*If you want to see my analysis, I pull up the populated spreadsheet at 3:17.
I know it comes as a shock, but guess where we’re starting with our reels analysis? You got it — goals.
Reels are a fairly new feature on Instagram, which means they’re pushing ’em pretty hard… and this is the big selling point for reels! Contrary to what a lot of folks are claiming, you aren’t going to get to eleventy bajillion people in six weeks, but you WILL see growth on your account if you are posting consistently.
If you want to grow your audience using reels, post content that establishes your expertise… as often as you can manage. Someone should come across your reels, want to to find more helpful information, come across a library of it in your reels tab, and hit follow. Making sure that your reels are actually RELEVANT to your business and perfect fit client is key here.
If you are more keen on nurturing your existing audience using reels, make them relatable. There is going to be some mixture of valuable & relatable content, but lean towards one or the other depending on your primary goal.
Reels Analysis Spreadsheet
It is the mixture of elements that make for a successful reel — hashtags, shares, likes, comments, length, and maybe more importantly than anything, how you FEEL about the reel. (I know, yuck. If you’re driven by data that doesn’t excite you, I know.) All of the ingredients are important, and if you miss one your recipe / reel may fall flat.
Here’s what we look at:
As you can see, my top performing (and I use that term loosely!) reel only had 8 hashtags — so you don’t need to use all 30. We get into this in the hashtags lesson.
Likes & Comments
When I created this spreadsheet I thought this was going to be it. One of the reels in my top 10 only had 9 comments, while the others average about 35… and likes grow along with reach. These are clearly not a deciding factor in how far your reel goes.
Conclusion: The most important factor in the number of plays is watch time.
Social media platforms make money when you spend time on them, so it stands to reason that they’ll push out your reel to more people when your watch time is high.
To get a higher watch time…
Keep your videos short!
If someone watches 10/10 seconds of your video, that’s a hundred percent watch time. If they watch 10/30 seconds of your video, that’s 33 percent watch time. (Peep the data in my spreadsheet if you want to see the proof.)
This is why it’s also important to tighten up your scripts on reels. Take out any and all fluff — and be brutal. You can do this after the fact in your editing process so you can still speak naturally. Three seconds is a significant amount of time when you only have thirty.
Don’t bury the lede (the most important part of the story)
This is the gold that comes up when you take notes & pay attention to each and every reel. I’ve had a couple of reels bomb recently, and as I was going through them — I realized I didn’t get to the point quick enough.
Have a good hook and get to it QUICK in the reel. That way you draw people in right away, and they stick around because they know what they’re watching.
This info comes directly from Instagram HQ — so it’s a sure thing.
- Post reels that are fun, entertaining, or inspiring. (This is where the cheat sheets come in super handy! You don’t have to be silly to keep the viewer visually engaged. I share some ideas around the 15 minute mark.)
- Use the creative tools provided by Instagram. This includes music.*
- Do NOT post reels that are blurry, visually recycled from other apps (aka TikTok), with a border, or covered with large text.
- Community guidelines apply to reels as well.
Instagram encourages brands and creators to use the built in music feature, but don’t stress if you don’t have it! Artists did not create these tunes for you to promote products & services with or mix into who-knows-what. This is a copyright nightmare and I’m calling it now — it’s a matter of time before this feature drops off entirely.
Original content where you are educating and entertaining your audience in YOUR voice is super memorable and impossible to replicate. It’s similar to Instagram stories (so honestly easier than the lip dubs etc) — you can get fancy later as you get more comfortable.
Outside of the Spreadsheet
There is a reason for the “Tangible Results” column in the spreadsheet. Don’t judge the success of a reel by looking at the number of plays. Take a step back and remember your actual goals!
One of my reels got about 20 hot leads into my DMs. (It was a fun day.) But if I look at the number of plays, it’s a solid 1/3 less than my most “popular” reel.
My second lowest reel EVER got me 6 sales within 24 hours.
I’ll take less plays and more dollars in my jeans, every day of the week. That last column is where the real analysis kicks in! 😊