Learn How to Reach More People on Instagram

A person standing to the side of Instagram posts and a chart with the Instagram symbol.

For both businesses and influencers, reach on Instagram is a key KPI that they want to track and improve. This is because extending your reach is essential in order to grow your following and to get your content noticed. Due to the popularity of this topic, it will come as no surprise that there are a number of articles about how to reach more people on Instagram. These can, of course, be helpful. However, do these articles just common tips or do they actually have data to back up their assertions? 

We want to do something different in this article than many of those other articles. Below, we will explain how to increase Instagram reach based on data we collected pertaining to increasing Instagram reach. We will begin by looking at whether Instagram is actually a good medium for reaching your audience. We will then move to highlight four studies we conducted that relate to various ways that you can increase reach on Instagram. The first study relates how emotions may help you expand your reach. The second goes into detail about how to best use hashtags to increase reach on Instagram. 

We will then move to the third study, which looks into what content types may be most effective at improving your reach on Instagram. Finally, we will talk about what CTAs you should consider when thinking about how to reach more accounts on Instagram.

Can you Actually Reach your Followers on Instagram?

Before getting into how to increase Instagram reach, let’s ask a more fundamental question: can you actually reach your followers on Instagram? This social media network is obviously popular, but is it actually effective at reaching your followers?  

We have looked into this issue and found that the number of users reached by a post on Instagram is surprisingly high. This is especially true of small profiles which reach more than half of their followers with a single post. In our study we saw that, for profiles with between 500 and 1,000 followers, 48% of the followers see the post on average. 

It should be noted that not all users who are reached with a post are necessarily followers of the profile. Through hashtags or the Discover function, posts can also reach users who are not connected to the profile. We should also note that, as the number of followers increases, the reach per follower decreases. However, there is no reason to complain. As you see below, even large followings have a solid amount of reach. 

A bar chart about the average week per follower on Instagram posts divided by profile size.

Keep in mind that these values ​​are only averages. Large profiles can perform higher than this benchmark, and smaller profiles under it.

How to Reach More People on Instagram

As we have seen above, you can reach your followers and non-followers on Instagram. The question then becomes how to increase your Instagram reach. There are a number of different suggestions you may hear about increasing Instagram reach. However, we wanted this article to focus on suggestions that can be based on actual studies that show what is shown to work to increase Instagram reach.   

Below, we will share the results from a number of studies that show you how to increase Instagram reach organically. These have to do with generating strong emotions, using hashtags, understanding what content formats correlate with the most reach, and the ideal CTAs to use. Let’s take a closer look. 

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Generate Strong Emotions

Let’s start with emotions. We have conducted a study where we focused specifically on Instagram Reels and wanted to answer a simple question: whether strong emotions in Reels lead to higher reach and engagement, and, if so, which of all the emotions resonate best with the Instagram users. 

Below, we go over the 2 key findings of our study related to emotions for Instagram Reels:

  1. Reels that trigger strong emotions are a key to increasing reach and engagement
  2. Positive sentiment in Reels leads to the highest reach and engagement rate

Reels that trigger strong emotions are a key to increasing reach and engagement

It turns out that when looking for ways as to how to improve Instagram reach, you should focus on emotions. As you can see below, our study of more than 700 Reels confirms that Instagram users prefer Reels with strong emotions over Reels with weak emotions. Reaching on average 30% of a profile’s followers, Reels with strong emotions reach nearly four times as many people as Reels with weak emotions (8 %).

Two bar charts that show how the reach changes with different types of emotions on Instagram Reels.

Importantly, they also achieve more than 11 times higher engagement rates than Reels which create weak emotions. This is not only because Reels with strong emotions correlate with particularly high engagement rates (4.1% on average), but also because Reels that do not focus on emotions attain very low engagement rates (0.37 %). 

Positive sentiment in Reels leads to the highest reach and engagement rate

The second study related to increasing Instagram reach has to do with generating positive sentiments. In analyzing the sentiment of Instagram Reels, we found that Reels that contain positive sentiments achieve on average 2.5 times higher reach than Reels with weak emotions, and also 14% higher reach than Reels with negative sentiments.

Two bar charts displaying different levels of reach for positive emotions in Instagram Reels.

Unsurprisingly, funny content works well in Instagram Reels. After all, people who make us laugh usually earn our likes, and these may be predominately the Reels we share with our friends. In fact, funny Reels reach almost four times as many people on average as Reels that arouse only weak emotions.

Likewise, Reels that create empathy increase reach. Empathy-evoking Reels reach 3.5 times as many people as Reels with weak emotions. Additionally, we analyzed whether joy in Reels increases Instagram reach. In this case, we came to the conclusion that bringing joy to the viewer is also an effective way to increase a Reel’s reach. On average, joy-eliciting Reels appear 4.5 times more often than Reels that arouse only weak emotions (36.5% vs. 8%).

Two different bar charts about position emotions and its effects on reach and engagement rates.

Although the effect is less pronounced than for positive emotions, most strong negative emotions also lead to an increase in reach. For instance, grief-filled Reels reach more than 2.5 times as many people as Reels with weak emotions. Fear-producing Reels also land on nearly twice as many screens.

Use the Right Hashtags

Hashtags are always a hot topic on Instagram. That is why we have covered hashtags related to Instagram hashtag research and how many hashtags you should use in your posts in other articles. However, a simpler, but nonetheless important question is whether hashtags actually improve your reach and engagement on Instagram. 

Similar to the study above, we will confine our analysis to Instagram Reels since they are distributed on Instagram differently than traditional posts. In this Instagram Reels study, we want to see if hashtags increase reach on Instagram while also improving engagement rates. The three main points that we want to emphasize based on our findings are:

  1. Hashtags Work…. Use Them!
  2. Generic Hashtags Work Best
  3. Choose your Hashtags Wisely

Hashtags Work…. Use Them!

After examining hundreds of Reels, we can clearly say that hashtags work on Instagram Reels. Compared to Reels without hashtags, those with hashtags receive an average of 47% more likes, comments and shares, and an average of 43% higher reach.

So, if you want to know how to increase Instagram reach organically, just remember that more hashtags means more reach. As our study shows, the average reach increases with the number of hashtags being used. While Reels with one to four hashtags reach 7% more people than Reels without hashtags, the average audience size is 27% larger when up to ten hashtags are being used in a Reel. For Reels with ten to thirty hashtags, the reach jumps by a staggering 247% on average compared to Reels without hashtags.  

While many may be wondering how to reach non followers on Instagram, hashtags are important in this regard. However, hashtags are a way to not only appear randomly in other users’ Reel tab or explore page, but also to be found when users are explicitly looking for a specific topic. It is important to let users who are actively searching for the type of content you post find you by integrating hashtags in your Reels.

Another argument for using hashtags is that Instagram users can follow hashtags, which means that your Reels will end up in the feeds of many users, even in the feeds of users who don’t follow your account (yet).

Charts that show the number of hashtags you should use in Instagram Reels.

As you can see above, engagement also increases with the number of hashtags used. We also see that Reels with many hashtags achieve the highest engagement rates. Reels with one to four hashtags achieve an average of 20% more engagement than Reels without hashtags. For Reels with five to ten hashtags, engagement is already 60% higher on average, and for Reels with more than ten hashtags, the increase in engagement is an impressive 160% compared to Reels without hashtags. Read more about how many Instagram you should use.

Generic Hashtags Work Best

Another topic related to increasing Instagram reach with hashtags is whether you should focus on more generic hashtags or rather specific, niche hashtags. Our study actually looked into this issue and found that Reels with generic hashtags perform in terms of both audience interactions and average reach. This seems counterintuitive at first glance, since some people may assume that you want to use niche hashtags in order to better target people interested in a specific topic. 

However, in terms of reach and engagement, the numbers speak for themselves. In contrast to Reels that use generic hashtags, Reels with mixed hashtags and Reels with specific, niche hashtags, show an average of 56% and 41% fewer user interactions and 44% and 62% fewer reach per follower.

Bar charts that show the performance of generic hashtags on Instagram Reels.

You may counter by highlighting that, the more generic a hashtag is, the more competing posts there are for that hashtag. You may think that this would tend to negatively impact a Reel’s number of impressions and reach. 

A possible response to such as statement would be that users on Instagram seem to prefer searching for broad, short hashtags such as #puertorico, #summer and #weekend over specific, long hashtags such as #puertoricoweekends. This higher search volume, in turn, compensates for the significantly higher number of competing posts to generic hashtags. This would then result in an even greater average reach of a post with generic hashtags compared to the average reach of a Reel with specific niche hashtags.

Choose your Hashtags Wisely

One last thing to keep in mind is that the more hashtags you use, the greater the chance of being found. However, the ultimate reach of a Reel depends not only on your hashtags, but also depends on the Instagram’s algorithm. As you probably already know, the Instagram algorithm focuses on engagement, so it is important that your engagement rates remain high.

In terms of hashtags, especially generic hashtags, there is a risk that they will neither match your content particularly well, nor the tastes and interests of the people searching for a generic keyword. The result would be a low engagement, which in turn can hurt you with the Instagram algorithm. For this reason, you should try to use a lot of popular and short hashtags, while making sure that your hashtags fit your audience’s expectations. 

If you are looking to increase reach on Instagram, there are a few things you should try. The first is to use an Instagram hashtag composer that will help you find relevant hashtags for your post that have the most reach. The second is to conduct hashtag research for your Instagram account so that you can identify the hashtags used in your industry that have the high post interaction rates. 

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Pay Attention to the Content Format

Another tip we have related to how to reach more accounts on Instagram is to pay attention to the content format you are using. The primary question we want to answer here is whether you should consider post format. Below, we will discuss a study we conducted looking at the differences in reach between Instagram posts and stories.

Posts Generate the Greatest Reach

We started off this study with a specific question: do posts or stories have more reach on Instagram? In reality, our analysis reveals that posts on Instagram achieve significantly more reach than stories. We also found that reach decreases with an increasing number of posts, regardless of whether it is a feed post or a story.

Before getting deeper into the data, we should clarify how we conducted this study. In order to come to an accurate conclusion, we need to look at the reach per post per follower. The addition “per follower” is important so that posts from profiles of different sizes can be compared. Without the addition of followers, posts of larger profiles will always be more successful in absolute terms than those of smaller profiles. For example, if a profile has 50,000 followers and a reach of 20% per post, the profile will reach an average of 10,000 followers with one post. 

In contrast, a smaller profile with a 1,000 followers and a reach of 30% per post only reaches 300 hundred followers. Since large profiles already have a lot of followers, they still reach many more followers in absolute terms, even if the reach per follower is rather low compared to smaller profiles. It is, therefore, necessary to divide the reach by the number of followers of the profiles in order to make the reach of a profile comparable. 

A bar chart that is showing the average reach for Instagram Posts and Stories.

As you can clearly see in the graph above, posts generate more reach than stories. It is noteworthy that stories on Instagram have a much lower reach per follower than posts. For example, a post from a profile with 20,000 followers reaches 21.86% of followers on average, while a story only reaches 5.80% of followers. 

However, we shouldn’t forget that posts are much longer-lasting than stories. Stories only remain accessible to users for 24 hours. Posts, on the other hand, can easily found through the Instagram’s Explore feature and also become a fixed part of a profile’s feed. Moreover, the use of hashtags and locations in posts, for example, is a powerful means of increasing reach. 

Nevertheless, we should note that stories are still an important content format for Instagram and can be a major part of your content strategy. Stories are often viewed several times, and these repeated impressions can be valuable to your profile or brand.

At the end of the day, don’t forget that you can look into what content formats perform the best with the right social media analysis tool. You can do this by analyzing the performance of various content formats of your own profile as well as that of your competitors.

Think about your CTAs

When studying how to increase reach on Instagram, you may not find much about CTAs. However, do CTAs make a difference for Instagram reach? We look specifically at Instagram Reels in an extensive study of 540 Reels that sheds some light about best practices when it comes to CTAs. Below, we will highlight the following findings:

  1. Do not Engage in Obvious Advertising
  2. Logos and Slogans in Reels are Considered Advertising
  3. Beware of Calls-to-Action in Reels
  4. These Calls-to-Action do not Improve your Reel’s Reach
  5. These Calls-to-Action Actually Lead to Greater Reach

Do not Engage in Obvious Advertising

It goes without saying that many companies and influencers use Instagram Reels as a sales tool. However, our study shows that if a Reel contains advertising for a product, its reach drops drastically. Alternatively, Reels without advertising reach almost twice as many people as Reels that contain an advertisement. This is all regardless of whether the content of the Reel is exciting, creative, or inspiring. This finding is clear in the graphic below.

Two charts that show the affect of advertising on the reach of Instagram Reels.

With this data in mind, it may be wise to utilize indirect forms of advertising since this tends to show better results. For example, you may consider giving tips and showing competence in a specific area. This could be a real estate company commenting on the current market situation, or a car manufacturer showing concept cars. Alternatively, you could use methods to help people associate positive feelings with your brand. This could be done by showing off a brand’s products in interesting locations or being used by people in a way that creates positive feelings.

Even with indirect advertising techniques, our study shows that you still lose a third of the reach and receive two-thirds fewer interactions as compared to Reels without advertising. Whether such losses are worth the product advertising is something everyone has to think about carefully. However, it may be a worthwhile approach for your company or brand.

Logos and Slogans in Reels are Considered Advertising

Many companies display their logo or slogan at the end of a Reel. What should you take into account with this strategy when considering how to improve Instagram reach? Unfortunately, including your slogan in your Reels is akin to advertising and negatively affects your reach.

As you see below, our research shows the Reels that display logos or slogans perform similarly to Reels that use indirect advertising. On average, you can expect 36% lower reach and 70% lower viewer interaction rates than with Reels which don’t show a logo or slogan. When thinking about ways to increase Instagram reach, it may be better not to show the company logo at the end of the Reel, but instead ask your viewer to perform a specific action.

Two charts displaying what happens to reach on Instagram Reels when slogans are used.

Beware of Calls-to-Action in Reels

Calls-to-Action are widely seen as an effective means of increasing interaction and reach. However, our study shows that conventional wisdom may not be completely true when it comes to CTAs. In reality, the reels in our study with a call-to-action performed overall worse than Reels without a CTA. 

The difference in reach amounted to 11% percent in our study. In terms of likes and comments, the difference ended up being as much as 33%. Whether the call-to-action is shown or spoken in the Reel itself, or whether it is placed in the captions, makes little difference. However, not every call-to-action is the same. So let’s delve deeper into which ones may help you and which ones may not. 

These Calls-to-Action do not Improve your Reel’s Reach

Our study revealed that Reels that contain invitations to tag friends, to follow an account, or to purchase a product reach the fewest people. The reach of such Reels is between 60% and 65% lower than for Reels without these prompts. 

Reels with discount codes as well as prompts to register do not perform much better. Compared to Reels without these calls-to-action, they achieve only half the reach on average. Even Reels with a call-to-action to watch a video or participate in an event indicate a 25 percent loss in reach. 

A bar chart that highlights the reach for carious calls-to-action.

These Calls-to-Action Actually Lead to Greater Reach

As you see above, there are other calls-to-action that can help your reach. For instance, there is no loss of reach with Reels that contain an invitation to visit a website. In fact, those Reels reach 9% more people than Reels that do not. Reels with prompts to comment show a 43% higher reach per follower than Reels that do not contain these prompts. And Reels with a call-to-action to like the Reel demonstrate 86% higher reach on average.

Conclusion: How to Increase Instagram Reach

When thinking about ways to increase reach on Instagram, it is important that you take into account best practices based on data. This is why we conducted several studies related to increasing reach on Instagram. As we have shown, there are many different areas you should pay attention to which include using strong emotions, using hashtags (and the right ones), making sure you are using the right content formats, and using effective CTAs. 

It also helps to have a social media tool that can help you find ways to improve your overall performance. Luckily, Fanpage Karma a tool that can give you powerful analytical insights. This includes analyses related to finding the best times to post on Instagram, hashtag research, content optimization, and even an Instagram hashtag generator. Additionally, it offers industry-leading community management, publishing, and research functions for social media. Try the free 14-day trial to see for yourself.

There is also a free webinar that can show you how to use the Fanpage Karma tool for managing your social media accounts. 

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