Skip to Content

Instagram Reels vs Stories: Which One Should You Choose?

It’s difficult to navigate the world of Instagram and figure out which types of posts provide the most engagement. Reels, stories, and posts let Instagram users reach tons of people, but there is an art to going viral. So, who wins in the popular Instagram reels vs. story debate?

You can reach more people with reels than an Instagram story in most cases. Instagram stories only last 24 hours whereas reels stay around forever, and they are much easier for any user to share. You can also add reels to your story and use hashtags to drive more users to discover your page than with a story.

Focus on reels and posts if you want your Instagram account to go viral. Follow along as we settle the Instagram reels vs. story debate and highlight the benefits of both.

Reel Vs. Story. Vs. Post

Content Format

The main difference between Instagram reels, stories, and posts is the format. Reels are videos that last up to 90 seconds when recorded in-app but are often much shorter. You can upload longer stories as long as 15 minutes, but only if you record them outside of Instagram.

An Instagram story is a short video that lasts up to 60 seconds, but many users make stories that are 15 seconds or shorter. Instagram stories appear at the top of your feed, and they disappear after 24 hours. Standard Instagram posts include videos or pictures that typically feature captions.

Posts last forever unless they are flagged by Instagram or if you delete them. Instagram users can add posts to their stories, and this helps increase engagement.


When it comes to accessibility and discoverability, reels and posts offer the most exposure. Stories can offer exposure, but a story only lasts 24 hours which lessens their impact. However, you may come across posts and reels on your Instagram feed from days or weeks ago and they will appear new to you.

If you want as many people to discover your page as possible, try to focus on posts and reels. However, you can reach many people with stories as well if you have followers and tag others in your story. Other users can only share your Instagram story if you tag them in it, and this helps your account grow.


When it comes to interaction, you can get better engagement with reels than a story. However, people can like and react to reels and stories alike. The main downside of engagement with stories is that people can only interact with your story for one day.

Another downside is that other users cannot share your Instagram story unless you mention them in it. There is no limit to how much people can interact with reels and posts on Instagram unless you delete them. People can share your reels and posts as often as they want, so you can reach more people with them.


While you can help your account grow when you post a story, you are more likely to reach people with reels and posts. Instagram stories can appear on the Explore page, but that typically only happens if your account is already popular. However, most of what you find on the Explore page consists of reels and posts that match your algorithm.

An Instagram story will primarily only appear on your followers’ feeds. Unless your story makes it to the Explore page, you will likely only reach your followers, and this won’t help our account grow. Reels are perfect for growth because they can reach countless users who scroll through reels.

How to Make a Viral Reel on Instagram

Keep it Short

While Instagram increased the reel length to 90 seconds, long videos aren’t the best way to make a viral reel on Instagram. It’s all about the viewer’s attention span, and shorter videos are the best way to leave a strong impression. Many of the most popular Instagram reels are between 7 and 15 seconds, and that’s a great starting point.

Use a Popular Song

Reels with songs are often the most memorable, but only if the song suits the video well. Instagram encourages users to add songs to reels, and it’s a great idea. Pay attention to some of the popular songs that appear in many reels. It also helps to check Spotify and Apple Music for trending songs as they will leave a mark on other users when they see your reel.

Add Text

You may have noticed that many Instagram reels feature text on the screen. While this can be distracting sometimes, it makes sense when you consider that not everyone turns on sound for reels or can hear. Add text to go along with your reel and make sure it’s easy to read.

This will help capture the attention of more Instagram users, and it can help give your reels context.

Use Hashtags

Hashtags can help drive viewers to your Instagram reels. Make sure to use hashtags that fit the reel, however, or people will simply be left confused as to why you used that hashtag if it doesn’t make sense. Some of the most popular hashtags for Instagram reels include #love, #instagood, and #nature.

Feel free to come up with unique hashtags that appeal to the niche you cater to or apply to the content of your reels.

How to Make a Viral Instagram Post

Find a Niche

The best way to make a viral Instagram post is to find a niche. It’s rare for Instagram users to appeal to everyone, but the most successful influencers typically cater to specific audiences. For example, if you are a nature enthusiast and take some great hiking photos, you can cater to an audience of nature lovers.

Post a photo set from your latest hike with hashtags that relate to nature such as #nature and #beautiful.

Mimic Your Influences

There are plenty of great examples of popular Instagram accounts that you can use for inspiration. Take influence from accounts that you admire and use them to help your account grow. Check out viral Instagram posts from influencers that post similar content.

Use similar hashtags or even the same hashtags so you can get some spillover followers from your favorite influencers.

Post Regularly

If you don’t use it, you lose it. That applies to any social media platform, but it’s especially true with Instagram. Ideally, you should post at least 3-5 times per week on Instagram to make a post go viral. This will help you reach more people who are more likely to share your post, and that’s how you go viral.

Promote Your Post on Other Platforms

Do you use other social media platforms? If so, you can use them to make your Instagram post go viral. Promote your Instagram post and account on TikTok and Facebook to reach more people and get more interaction.

Do Instagram Stories Help Get Followers?

Instagram stories don’t help you get as many followers as reels and posts. That’s because stories are less likely to get on the Explore page where you get lots of exposure. However, your story may wind up on the Explore page if you already have lots of followers who interact with your story. Otherwise, you should focus on posts and reels to get followers on Instagram.

So, Are Reels or Stories Better on Instagram?

Reels are better than stories when it comes to interaction on Instagram. Stories expire after only 24 hours, so you have a short window to reach Instagram users. However, reels never go away and can wind up on the reel and Explore page for weeks and even months after you originally post them.