How to Leverage Trending Sounds on Instagram Reels

Cara Cooley


Cara Cooley


September 8, 2022

How to Leverage Trending Sounds on Instagram Reels

If you haven’t heard the news, Instagram Reels are all the rage.

Reels have become one of the most important types of content you can create as an organization on social media nowadays. With the rise of the popular social media platform TikTok, Instagram has begun to shift its approach to the types of content it is focusing on. 

Although there has been a bit of pushback about this shift, Instagram has begun to prioritize video content, specifically content made through Reels. A Reel is a short-form type of video, that ranges in length from just a few seconds to 90 seconds, that has been granted its separate category on the Instagram platform.

Last year, Instagram changed things up on its app by replacing the notification tab with a shopping tab in its main navigation. Now, Reels find themselves as the center tab of the 5 main navigation options. Obviously, Instagram is trying to make Reels a center point of its platform.

If you’re unfamiliar, Reels can be videos of pretty much anything. They can be short instructional videos, popular dance challenges, and even sermon snippets from churches. The thing that makes Reels thrive is their emphasis on trends.

If you scroll through your Discover page on Instagram, you will find a library of different content that is specifically curated for you. Just like all social platforms, Instagram utilizes a specific algorithm to cater to your specific social media activity. For example, if you are really into food, you might find a litany of different items on your Discover page: a static image of a meal, a carousel of recipe images, and even an instructional cooking Reel. 

You may notice that there are more and more Reels showing up on this Discover page, but they are even showing up on your Instagram Stories. The Story feature on Instagram still exists, but many accounts are shifting from sharing Stories (that remain on your feed for 24 hours) to Reels (which stay on your feed for as long as you want.) 

This is because Reels, by and large, are being highly favored by the Instagram algorithm. In truth, if you aren’t posting Reels, odds are your followers may not even see your content on their Instagram feed.

The incredible thing about this shift toward video content like Reels is that you do not need to have an expensive HD camera and perfect editing skills to create a Reel. There are countless resources in the Instagram app that make the Reel making process easier.

As of the writing of this blog, Instagram has come out with a new Template feature on Reels. Essentially, the entirety of the Reel, audio and all, is pre-created and all you have to do is replace the clips with your media. It is one of the simplest ways to make a Reel on Instagram that takes out the extra time of perfectly editing your clips to sync with the audio.

Before you even get to using Templates or creating a video, let’s get back to the main element of Reels you need to nail down: trending sounds. The sound of your Instagram Reel is almost more important than the images and videos you use in the Reel itself.

While there is value in sharing great video content, the thing that drives engagement with your Reel is the audio used. While there is a huge library of songs and user-generated sounds, utilizing trending sounds is the key to increasing engagement with your Reel.

So how can you leverage these trending sounds to amp up your engagement and cause your Reels to take off online? Here are a few simple tips.

  1. Check out trends on TikTok

If we’re comparing the difference between Instagram and TikTok when it comes to trends, it is kind of like comparing movie formats. TikTok’s content can be likened to seeing a movie at its theater premiere; Instagram is like watching that same movie when it finally comes out on Blu-ray.

This comparison doesn’t mean that Instagram is lesser in its quality or content, it just means that the trends that first take off on TikTok tend to trickle down to Instagram a few days (or even weeks) later.

While Instagram is beginning to catch up (and even develop trends of its own), it is likely that if something is trending on Instagram it has already been trending on TikTok. To get ahead of these trends, it is wise to take some time to search through TikTok and discover what sounds and challenges are gaining momentum.

Again, these platforms make it pretty easy for us to crack the algorithmic code. You can simply open up the TikTok app and search for recently trending sounds — it is as easy as that!

  1. Find trends within IG itself

While Instagram doesn’t have a filtered search feature to discover trending audio, they do make it pretty easy to discover sounds that are rising in popularity. Within each Reel, there will be a few elements on the bottom of the Reel to take note of. There is usually a caption of some sort, a video filter, and an indication of the sound being used in the video. The tag of the sound can be tapped on and it will bring you to all of the other Instagram Reels that have also utilized this sound too. 

Directly to the left of the sound name, you will see a small icon: either a music note or an arrow. If the audio has an arrow icon next to it, this indicates that this sound is rising in popularity and is essentially trending on Instagram. 

While you can surely use your original audio, a song from the song library, or even other non-trending audio, it is wise to use the trending sound to your advantage.

We want to show you an example of the types of analytics you may see across your Reels based on whether you use trending audio or not. One of our team members at PMF Creative, Sam, shares Reels every so often on her personal Instagram account. Below you will see the difference between her views on her Reels:

While some of her Reels were able to organically generate a few thousand views, not all of them performed all that highly. But see the Reel with 12.9K views? That video is the only among the 8 displayed that utilized a trending sound at the time of its posting.

The thing with Instagram is that it is an ever-changing platform. The algorithm is constantly shifting and while you may follow the rules to go viral perfectly, a lot of it is still up to chance. But utilizing trending sounds increases your chances of your Reel taking off.

  1. Follow influencers & other trend-aware accounts

There is a simple saying: “work smarter, not harder.” That is exactly what you should do if possible when it comes to trying to get ahead of Instagram Reel trends. While you can spend hours upon hours trying to discover the latest trend, challenge, and audio, there are people out there who have already done that work for you.

One of the incredible things about social media is the infinite amount of resources we can find on it. While we can’t trust everything we see and read, there are some genuine people out there who want to help other people succeed in their life in general but also in their businesses and endeavors. 

Jasmine Star is a social media manager and business strategist whose Instagram page is dedicated solely to showing you how to best leverage your social media presence. She posts about current Reel trends, tutorial videos, and other general business advice

There are plenty of accounts just like Jasmine’s that help you stay ahead of trends and give you tools on how to create the type of content that yields engagement.

There you have it! Trending sounds can be a game changer for your Reels if you want to see some real engagement. It is as easy as searching for what is gaining momentum and utilizing some of the resources in-app to help you create a stellar Reel.

Do you need some more guidance on how to increase engagement on your social media pages? We’ve got you covered. Our team of social media strategists at PMF Creative will help create a plan for you that works and puts an emphasis on igniting engagement online. Reach out to us today to learn more about us!

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