Did you notice that your engagement stats went up after posting Instagram Reel? It’s not just you.

Since the short video format became available on the platform last year, brands and creators have seen these posts attract more attention than just views. Many have seen their follower counts and engagement rates increase as well. An Instagram creator says he gained more than 2,800 followers by posting a Reel every day for a month.

At Moyens I/O, we decided to examine our own Instagram data and test this theory.

Keep reading, but first, watch the video below that features this experiment and another experiment we did on TikTok to compare reach with Reels:

Hypothesis: Posting Reels improves your overall Instagram engagement

Our working hypothesis is that posting an Instagram Reel can have a brilliant impact on our overall Instagram metrics. In other words, posting Reels can increase our overall engagement and follower growth rates.


To run this unofficial experiment, Moyens I/O’s social media team executed its Instagram strategy, which included Reels, single-image and carousel posts, and IGTV videos as planned.

Moyens I/O’s first Reel was released on January 21, 2021. During the 40-day period from January 21 to March 3, Moyens I/O posted 19 posts on its stream. six reels, seven IGTV videos, five carouselsand a video. In terms of frequency, we publish a Reel roughly once a week or more.

When it comes to discovery, Instagram has a number of variables to take into account. In any case, our Reels have been published in the Reels tab and feed. Some accounts have noticed that a Reel’s performance drops drastically when it is only posted to the Reels tab. We did not test this theory in this experiment.

Others have noted that sharing Reels on Instagram Stories can have a distinct impact on engagement. We’ve shared all of our Reels on Instagram Stories, so keep that in mind as you read the results.

Audio is another way the Reels get discovered on Instagram. After watching a Reel, viewers can click on the track and discover other videos that sample the same sound. Three of the six Reels we’ve released feature trending tracks, while the other three use original audio. Finally, it featured three Makara hashtags, and none of them were “Featured” by the Instagram curators.

Overview of the methodology

  • Time Frame: January 21 – March 3
  • Number of Reels Sent: 6
  • All Reels posted on stream
  • All Reels Shared on Instagram Stories


TL; DR: Follower count and engagement have increased, but not at a much higher rate than before they started publishing Reels. Access also remained the same.

Take a look at Moyens I/O’s follower distribution on Instagram Insights (pictured below). Of course, each tab of the green “new follower” line corresponds to the release of a Reel.

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follower distribution:

Source: Hoosuite’s Instagram Insights

“One to three days after publishing a Reel, we have seen significant increases in our follower count. My hypothesis is that these spikes in follower growth are coming from our Reels content,” explains Brayden Cohen, Moyens I/O social marketing strategist. But overall Moyens I/O follow and unfollow rates haven’t changed much, according to Cohen.

“We typically see around 1,000-1,400 new followers per week and around 400-650 unfollowers per week (this is normal). I can say that our follow and unfollow rates have remained the same since we published the reels.”

Let’s elaborate the data a little more. Note: All statistics mentioned below were recorded on March 8, 2021.

reel #1—21 January 2021

Views: 27.8K, Likes: 733, Comments: 43

Audio: “Level Up”, Ciara

Hashtags: 0

reel 2—27 January 2021

Views: 15K, Likes: 269, Comments: 44

Sound: Original

Hashtags: 7

reel #3—February 8, 2021

Views: 17.3K, Likes: 406, Comments: 23

Sound: freezer style

Hashtags: 4

reel #4—17 February 2021

Views: 7,337, Likes: 240, Comments: 38

Sound: Original

Hashtags: 1

reel #5—23 February 2021

Views: 16.3K, Likes: 679, Comments: 26

Audio: “Dreams,” Fleetwood Mac

Hashtags: 3

reel #6—March 3, 2021

Views: 6,272, Likes: 208, Comments: 8

Sound: Original

Hashtags: 0

To reach

In terms of overall reach, “I’m seeing a similar increase in the number of accounts accessed from our Instagram account around the time we released Reels,” says Cohen. While there are highs and lows, there is a steady increase in reach throughout February.

Instagram reach info graph

Source: Hoosuite’s Instagram Insights

get engaged

What about engagement? Compared to the previous 40-day period, the average number of comments and likes per post is higher.

But that’s mostly because of the Reels themselves. In addition to having a much higher view rate, “Our Instagram Reels get 300-800 likes per post, while an IGTV and an in-feed video get 100-200 likes,” says Cohen. Take the reels out of the equation and the participation rate for both periods is approximately the same.

So, does Reels improve your overall Instagram engagement? In Moyens I/O’s case, the answer is: a little. The number of followers and engagement have increased, but not at a much higher rate than before they started publishing the Reels.

What do the results mean?

Instagram wants quality reels to be seen

Instagram has redesigned its home screen to put the Reels front and center, so the Reels’ high view count should come as no surprise. In this sense, Reels has become an important frontier for organic reach in practice. The more people you reach with your reels, the more your follower count and engagement rate will increase.

While Reels has more reach than any other format on the platform, Instagram’s algorithm continues to prioritize Reels ticking certain boxes. He explains the company’s recommendation engine: “People tell us they want to see fun, funny, and interesting content in places like the Reels tab, and we’ve gotten better at recommending it.”

Reposting TikTok videos as Reels? Instagram can beat you up for that. “We’ve also heard that poor video quality reels (i.e. blurry due to low resolution) or content visibly recycled from other apps (containing logos or watermarks, for example) make the Reels experience less satisfying,” explains a post from the company. “So we’re making this content less discoverable in places like the Reels tab.”

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People highlight reels perform well

TikTok’s success is largely based on creators, and Instagram Reels are no different. Take a look at your Reels feed and you’ll notice that most videos have one thing in common: People! Forget overly stylized product shots, Instagram aesthetics, or even illustrations. All this comes second to people in terms of personality in the Reels format.

“We find that the image of a person on the reel helps them perform better,” Cohen says. Two of Moyens I/O’s three best-performing Reels in this experiment feature a persona in the cover art (in both cases, it’s Cohen!). Reel Three also features a person who is not on the cover (Moyens I/O’s Inbound Marketing Lead, Shannon Tien).

Sound can make a big difference

It’s probably no coincidence that our top three Reels have three that feature a trending piece. Especially Ciara’s “Level Up” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” are currently very popular on Instagram and TikTok.

“Instagram is more advantageous when you add your voices and songs locally in its own app, rather than pre-adding it to a 3rd-party app or using other music not available on Instagram,” Cohen says. “I think that plays a big factor.”

Sharing on Instagram Stories increases views

Adding your reel to a Story increases the chance of being seen. Reels can be shared directly to Stories, but Cohen recommends taking a different approach: “I’m resharing the In-Feed Reel with stories so the Reel in our feed gets more views.”

If your account has more than 10,000 followers, sharing your Reel on a Story will allow you to use them to drive traffic or conversions. “As this can’t be done for In-feed Reels captions, it’s incredibly useful to share on Instagram Stories while providing a scroll-up link or CTA,” he says.

Hashtags have little impact on reach

Instagram Reels can contain up to 30 hashtags, just like any other post on the platform. According to an Instagram Story posted by the company’s @creators account, “Hashtags continue to be a great source of discovery for creators, especially on Reels.” Popular Reels hashtags include #dance, #humor, #fitness and #reelitfeelit.

Hashtags had no obvious impact on Moyens I/O’s Reels. Posts with none performed better, and in some cases better, than posts that performed the same. “I think hashtags help with the discoverability of content and maybe help push them to the top of certain trending hashtags,” Cohen says. “I’m not 100% sure about the relevance of hashtags at the moment.”

All these aspects are still being fine-tuned by Instagram. In fact, Instagram head Adam Mosseri recently said: Boundary “Not happy yet” from Reels. Follow Instagram updates here.

Manage your Instagram presence along with your other social channels and save time using Moyens I/O. You can schedule and publish content, engage your audience, and measure performance from a single dashboard. Try it for free today.