There’s no denying Instagram is an incredibly powerful tool for digital entrepreneurs, influencers, and business owners. With an estimated 107 million users in the US alone and over 1 billion users worldwide, having a presence on Instagram has become crucial for establishing brand awareness, and building a loyal global community. And making a photo go viral on Instagram is where the platform can really boost your business.
Creating valuable content will increase your chances of going viral. Meaning, your content will spread throughout the platform, landing on more eyes. For many aspiring bloggers and influencers, having a photo go viral on the platform could increase your follower count and readership. Similarly, viral content can increase sales and grow your email list for businesses and entrepreneurs. And although the concept of virality is easy to understand, creating viral content is a little more difficult.
How to Make a Photo Go Viral on Instagram
While there aren’t specific benchmarks to hit, there are a number of telltale signs of when your photo has gone viral on Instagram. For instance, if you’ve noticed a huge increase in likes, shares, saves, and comments, in a short amount of time — chances are your post has gone viral. But some of the best measures of viral content happen to be benefits as well, such as the number of unique users your photo has reached, and the amount of link clicks your post has. The benefits of going viral are clear, but how do you make a photo go viral on Instagram?
Understand Your Audience
If you want your content to go viral on Instagram, you must first understand who your audiences are. Knowing your “who” will inform everything you do on Instagram. With so many users on the platform, providing value will keep your audiences coming back for more. But in order to deliver value, you need to figure out what your target audience finds valuable.
Understanding your audience begins with clearly defining who they are. Start by identifying the following details:
- Age or age range
- Education level
- Annual income
- What’s important to them
The more specific you can get, the stronger foundation you will have. You can’t create valuable and relevant content until you’ve figured out exactly who you’re creating it for. Going viral doesn’t happen because you’re trying to reach everyone, it happens because you’re reaching the people who want and need to hear what you have to say.
Establishing Your Unique Brand
Finding your unique brand will be the key defining factor between you and your competitors. Let’s face it — you aren’t the only travel, lifestyle, or fashion influencer on Instagram, and you’re unlikely to be the only influencer in any niche. And while there’s room for everyone on the platform, you’ll only stand out if you have established a unique brand.
As an influencer, finding your unique brand means defining the way you speak, write, and carry yourself. It’s also the way you edit your photos, the colors you use, and the content you post. Your unique brand is what separates you and your content from other influencers. It’s why someone will choose to follow you and not someone else. Additionally, it’ll keep you memorable and drive connection, engagement, and growth in every way.
Here are 2 examples of influencers with unique brands in the same niche:
@katie_lavieri‘s feed incorporates a lot of pinks. It is also bright, bubbly, and very feminine. Whereas @sivanayla incorporates a lot of neutrals. Her feed tends to incorporate a lot of candid images while sticking to a more neutral color scheme. These two fashion influencers are both in the same niche but their brand is completely different.
Taking Eye-Catching Images
Instagram is a visual platform. This means producing high-quality photos will increase your chances of landing on the explore page and going viral. But creating viral content on Instagram has less to do with the equipment and gear you use and more about how you compose your shot. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when shooting in order to increase your chance of going viral:
Shoot in vertical
Vertical photos take up more “real estate” on people’s Instagram pages. This boosts your engagement as people are more likely to stop, like your photo, and click on your profile.
Utilizing the foreground
This makes your photo more interesting and dimensional.
Use lines to draw your viewer’s eye through the photo.
Frame your shot
Similar to leading lines, using elements to frame the main subject of your shot will help draw attention to what you want your viewers to focus on.
Identify Patterns and Textures
The human eye loves patterns and textures, so start taking advantage of them!
Plan your outfits carefully
Always keep your outfits in mind. I recommend researching your location and planning ahead. For example — in this photo, the rice terrace is mostly green. Wearing a color like blue, green, and purple will make you blend into the surroundings. Picking a color like yellow, white, or red will make you pop.
Always Provide Value
After planning the perfect shot, you need to write an engaging and value-packed caption. Captions that add value will help you form deeper connections and establish a highly-engaged community. They’ll also drive higher engagement with more saves and shares when you ask your readers thought-provoking questions.
You can provide value through multiple ways in your caption. For example, travel influencers can share a mini-guide to a popular destination. Similarly, influencers can share an inspiring story that many of your audience can relate to.
If you’re lost with writing value-packed captions, ask yourself: what do I have to share that is either educational, entertaining, or inspirational? Lastly, don’t forget to ask your audience to engage with your content by adding a call-to-action at the end of your caption.
I break down all the parts you need to write an engaging caption in this free influencer training.
Engaging with Other Users
Instagram is a social networking platform, so being social goes without saying. If you want a piece of content to go viral, it is vital that you engage and interact with your ideal audiences and followers.
Engaging with other users by actively liking and leaving thoughtful comments builds your community. If they aren’t following you yet, you could engage with posts within hashtags related to your niche. Interact with their posts, leave meaningful and highly-engaged comments, and do not spam their posts with emojis and too many likes. Letting other creators know why you enjoy their content is a great way to grow your network. On the other hand, one word and emoji-only comments can appear like bot engagement, which drives your audiences away instead of encouraging them to learn more about you.
As for your followers, it’s important to continuously engage with them. If they send you a DM, be sure to respond. You could also create more meaningful relationships with your followers by having deeper conversations in your comments, or DMs. If you pose a question to your audience, make sure it’s something more substantial. Ask them about their opinions on important topics, not just if they prefer the pool or the beach.
Review the Top Performing Posts in Your Niche
One of the most efficient strategies to ensure you’re creating viral Instagram content is to review the top performing posts within your niche. This applies to photography and editing style more so than captions. Although borrowing caption ideas are completely allowed, do not copy and paste someone else’s caption word for word. If the topic is something you’d like to address, think about how you can add your unique spin on the subject. Remember, your unique brand is what makes you stand out from the crowd, so borrow the idea but write it from your own unique perspective.
Spend some time scrolling through the top content within your niche. Create a folder on your account and save any post that inspires you. Some great ideas to take note of include:
- Composition and editing style
- Interesting captions
- Hashtags top creators use
- Tags and mentions within the caption and in the photo
You can also take it a step further by observing their posting times (only if the creator shares the same audience demographic), and how often they post on Instagram.
Leverage Your Insights and Analytics
Knowing how to read the metrics and analytics that insights provide is key to understanding what your audience is looking for when they visit your profile. Your Instagram insights provides detailed information about your audiences’ demographics and user behavior. This will help you determine which posts your audiences are most responsive to. It will also help you discover which times are your audiences are most active, which will inform the best possible time for you to post — increasing your chances of going viral.
Create a Consistent Posting Schedule
Before your content stands a chance at going viral on Instagram, you need to create a consistent posting schedule. Consistency is always key to growth, no matter what social media platform you’re trying to grow on. Creating a posting schedule will allow you to batch content ahead of time, ensuring that you are producing high-quality content consistently. And the more consistently you post, the more metrics you have to study and determine what type of content your audiences are most responsive to.
Collaborate with Other Influencers in Your Niche
Putting community over competition will always be a great idea. If you want to increase your chances of going viral, consider collaborating with another influencer in your niche. Think about it — if an influencer within your niche has an audience who happens to be your target audience as well, you would both benefit from working together. If you live in the same city, plan a shoot together. That way, both your audiences will be exposed to a new influencer in a niche they’re already interested in. Just be sure to tag one another in the post.
Consider Paying for Ads
Boosting your engagement through ads is a great social media marketing technique to implement. However, I wouldn’t recommend taking out an ad for any ordinary post. There are many free ways to create viral Instagram content. But paid ads are a powerful tool to boost engagement on posts pointing towards a course launch, or a landing page for your email list. Depending on the type of content, paying for ads can be an incredible way to create a viral Instagram post that will increase your reach and ultimately build your community.
Creating Viral-Worthy Content
It may seem that virality is a factor that very much depends on luck. However, creating viral content comes down to a series of strategic steps and measures you must take. The 10 strategies listed above are great guidelines to follow if you want to create high-quality content. But most importantly, you must remember why, what, and who you’re creating content for. So make all your posts on Instagram count. If you want to dive deeper into creating viral-worthy, high-quality content, I have free influencer training that will set you up for success.
Only by creating content that you know your audiences want to consume, will you see a boost in engagement — which increases your chances of landing on the explore page and going viral.