Why Viral Songs and Reels are a Recipe for Success

It’s pretty clear by now, the Instagram we originally got has evolved into something entirely different. For those who remember the first versions of the app way back in October 2010, you probably remember a far simpler app – a handful of aggressively vibrant filters designed to mimic that of a film camera, a scrollable feed with the option for your profile to be private or public. That was pretty much it back then. 

When Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, it was only natural that some of the key features that made Facebook so popular would be transferred over to Instagram. This completely changed the way people used the app back then, and continues to influence it today. What was once a standalone photo sharing app, is now one of the biggest advertising platforms in the world, with over one billion users each month. In order to keep those users happy and most importantly returning to the app, the developers are constantly releasing new features and updates, the biggest of which was Reels in 2020. This was the app’s attack on their direct competition, TikTok – and it certainly worked.

Reels can be 15, 30 or 60 seconds long, and rely heavily on maintaining the user’s attention, often with popular music or visual effects to aid that. The music is often the key to a successful Reel, which can lead to huge engagement figures, an increase in followers and in turn, more awareness of your brand. We’ve looked at the data behind these top performing songs, and most importantly, where to find them. Here are our tips:

IG Creators Profile


Possibly the only destination you’ll need to find out the best performing music week by week. Much like the content within trending videos coming and going in terms of popularity, the music that performs well one week can be completely different the next. 

This account is run and managed entirely by Instagram themselves, meaning the information is genuine and very insightful. The team releases a weekly rundown of the trending songs of that week, which allows you to jump on certain trends or create specific content based on those songs or sound effects.


Explore Page


Another fantastic resource to quickly jump on trends and growing sounds. The explore page is a curated feed filled with accounts that you don’t currently follow, but has content within it that Instagram feels you should follow or interact with. This is all down to the illusive Instagram algorithm, and ranks content based on how quickly it is being engaged or viewed. It can be quite difficult to get onto the explore page, and is not something that is usually set in stone, as no two explore pages are alike.

In other words, the selection of content on each Instagram user’s Explore page is based on:

  • The accounts that someone already follows
  • What the people an account follows like
  • The types of posts an account engages with often
  • Posts with high engagement




Now we admit this one is actually predominantly for IG Reels’ arch nemesis TikTok, but as the two social apps compete in very similar markets, more often than not content that appears on one will end up on the other. That’s also true with the trending songs too, where TikTok is a powerhouse in this area. 

Songs can appear out of nowhere and see meteoric rises in a matter of hours – often songs which aren’t even brand new or charting. A great example of this the debut single by Edison Lighthouse from 1970, called “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” – now featured in over 75 million videos across the app. 

This handy website shows all of the current sounds that are trending on TikTok, where many of which can be searched for on Instagram.



Similar to the Creator IG profile, this website offers a great weekly list of the music that is taking the social platform by storm. We recommend bookmarking this page and regularly checking back on it to ensure you are bang on trending.

From experimenting with our own content, we found that some music will return results almost instantly, generating thousands of users in under an hour. Some are a little slower to build and ramp up over a 24 hour period. The key is to simply test and analyse what works for your profile. Updates to Reels seem to be coming thick and fast at the moment, so it’s important to ensure you are using every tool that’s on offer.

Bonus Tips!

Add in viral music on volume one


Here’s a sneaky little trick that can sometimes gain you some decent engagement figures. If you’ve created a video outside of the Reels creator menu, and have voice overs or background music already on it, the reel’s sound will appear as ‘original audio’, which often makes the discovery of the post extremely difficult. To stop this, head to the music section once you’ve added your Reel to the builder, search and choose a trending track, but ensure the volume is turned down to a minimum. Technically this means the track name will be shown in the music section and will rank among those videos – but we cannot guarantee success on this one!

Make sure your account is in ‘Creator’ mode, not ‘Business’


This one might be obvious, but it’s one that has caught us out many times before. There’s nothing worse than spending ages creating a Reel within the app, only to find when you search for a trending song you’re greeted to a bunch of royalty free music. Annoying right? Thankfully there’s an easy fix for this, and it involves switching your account settings from a personal or business account over to a creator one. 

Changing from a business to creator account won’t change a huge amount, but will open up the music library to allow you to play anything, even music from the world’s biggest artists. We’re a little unsure as to why Creator profiles are allowed this and Business ones aren’t, but this trick can save you a lot of headaches!

But – always remember to revert the account back to a business one if you use a scheduling platform. For example, we use Sociality.io to schedule our posts, who will only allow Business accounts to schedule posts on Instagram.

So there we have it, some handy tips on how to maximise your Reel engagement and get the results your videos deserve! We’ve seen a huge growth in our content thanks to Reels, and it’s clear to see Instagram is favouring accounts that regularly post Reels.



Elliot NewtonWhy Viral Songs and Reels are a Recipe for Success