When Instagram first launched in 2010, it represented something completely unique within the social media landscape. Its showcasing of static photos and incorporation of quirky filters inspired users and had them feeling like they were creating works of art. New accounts grew quickly, and before you knew it, Facebook had purchased it for more than a billion dollars.
Cut to today and Instagram has an eclectic user base of more than 1 billion active users; making it the ideal platform for marketers looking to grow awareness for their brands. Thanks to competition such as SnapChat and TikTok, Instagram has started to abandon the photography foundation that made them a powerhouse and is, instead, pivoting almost entirely to video.
Features such as Reels, Instagram Video, and Stories have truly opened up the platform to a “video-first” content strategy. By utilizing the following tips, you can ensure that your brand will be perfectly setup to take advantage of Instagram’s robust video marketing features
Understanding the Types of Instagram Video
Before you begin to produce video content for Instagram, it is important to understand the different types of video content it allows on the platform.
File Type: MP4 or MOV
Length: Up to 15 seconds (Anything longer will be edited into multiple Stories)
Max Size: 30 MB
Ratios: 9:16 and 16:9 to 4:5
While some decry it as a direct copy of Snapchat, Stories are bite-sized videos that disappear off of your feed after 24 hours. Once these videos are expired you can save them to your “highlights” section (just above the grid) for future viewing. Stories can feature fun interactive elements such as filters, tags, stickers, polls, Q&A’s, and more. Think of posts and feed content as long-term content and stories as short-term, snackable content that you can post quickly and efficiently.
However, make sure to not sleep on Stories because they can be a hidden gem for your brand when it comes to conversions and interactions with consumers. In fact, when polled, more than 50% of users said that they visited a brand’s website after seeing a story. Additionally, Stories are one of the only places on the platform where you can post a direct link to a website.
File Type: MP4 or MOV
Length: 0 to 60 seconds
Resolution: 500×888 pixels
Max File Size: 4GB
Max Frame Rate: 30 fps
Reels is Instagram’s latest video product that is directly inspired by TikTok. You can record these directly with your phone’s camera or upload from your photo’s library. With Reels, you can also integrate effects including text, AR filters, green screen effects, and audio sound effects as well.
All Reels record in portrait mode (16:9), so make sure that you consider this when developing concepts and filming your content. Vertical video has been around for a while and there are some filmmakers doing some incredibly interesting things with the format, so be sure to take some time and explore the platform to see some of what is possible.
Similar to content that is shared on the Feed, Reels can include captions, hashtags, and even product tags, making them a fantastic way to promote your brand and product. Be sure to keep your keyword research in mind when developing your caption and hashtag strategy, as Reels can be searched by consumers looking for relevant content.
Lastly, similar to other content shared in the Feed, Reels content can be liked, commented on, and shared via Stories and DM. Therefore, you need to be prepared to engage with your followers who engage with your content. The Instagram algorithm loves and rewards back and forth engagement such as comments, questions, and answers, so be sure to never let audience comments and questions go unanswered.
Instagram Live is an incredibly cool feature that allows brands to livestream directly to their audience anytime, anywhere. You can host interviews, Q&A’s, unboxing—the sky’s the limit!
Once an Instagram Live is finished, the video can be distributed and shared for up to 30 days before they are deleted.
Going Live is a fantastic way to engage directly with your audience and customers in real time. When you are live, your audience can communicate with you directly by adding comments, emoji, or even by purchasing unique badges that allow for increased engagement.
As a host, you can pin comments, delete comments, or completely disengage comments for complete control over moderation.
Live is an ideal solution for product brands as you can take advantage of features such as Live Shopping that let your audience shop directly from the stream. You can tag relevant products so that your audience can easily link to your product store or even donate money, making Live an ideal solution for non-profit organizations.
Instagram Feed Videos
File Type: MP4 or MOV
Length: 3 to 60 seconds
Recommended Size: Upload the highest resolution possible.
Maximum File Size: 30 MB
Maximum Frame Rate: 30 FPS
Feed Videos are displayed in user feeds alongside any other content that you post. These are very basic and pretty straightforward in terms of approach and don’t offer many features apart from allowing you to include captions and hashtags.
Execute Your Instagram Video Strategy
Many people scroll mindlessly through their social media feeds without really noticing any of the content. As a marketer and content creator, it’s your job to get them to stop and pay attention to your content above any others. While this may seem like a monumental task, there are several steps that we can take to get them to take notice of your content within the three-seconds experts say is required.
Give Them An Eye-Stopping Hook
You have to give your audience a reason to stop on your post and keep watching. Whether it is a stunning visual, or a compelling motion graphic, you need to introduce something immediately that will engage your viewer and get them to pay attention.
Additionally, you need to make it crystal clear immediately what your piece of content is about. Hopefully, you have done a good job targeting your audience and the person viewing your video is within that target. As such, you need to make it abundantly clear that what you are offering is something that they want.
As a last stop, make sure that your caption is clear, concise, and captivating. It should match the tone of your video content and act as a wingman in the event your video needs some additional help in closing that deal.
Have a Mobile First Mindset
You wouldn’t film a movie in portrait mode, right? So make sure that you are producing your content with a mobile-first mindset. Don’t think of it as a hindrance, rather, think of it as a new medium to work within. Filming in either vertical or square aspect ratios open up a ton of interesting possibilities when designing shots and planning out post-production and motion graphics.
Be sure to approach all of your concept development and strategic thinking with the end-deliverable and audience in mind. Take the time to watch what other filmmakers and your competitors are doing in the space. Spend time on TikTok and Snapchat to get ideas for what is possible in the medium and make sure to always have the end-viewer in mind.
Always Provide Value with Your Content
Consumers don’t want to be sold while on their devices. Nobody ever wants to spend their free time watching advertisements. As such, it is on you, the content creator, to find creative ways to disguise your branded content as entertainment. You do this by always providing value. Your viewers need to walk away from your posts having gained something new, be it some new knowledge, some new information, or even some entertainment that they didn’t previously have.
Nobody likes inconsistency. Especially your audience. Be sure to post regularly and your audience will come to rely on you for thoughtful and engaging content. If you have a difficult time with regularly posting content, utilize a scheduling software or service that allows you to create posts and schedule them ahead of time.
Also, research your audience and find out when they are most likely to be online and schedule your posts to go live when they are active. If your audience is younger, don’t schedule your posts in the morning. If you have an older audience, maybe scheduler for mid-morning.
Wrapping Up Your Instagram Video Strategy
Now that more and more platforms are transitioning to a video-first ideology in 2022, it is more important than ever that brands have a strong and developed video strategy. By understanding the potential that Instagram offers and taking advantage of its creative potential, brands can ensure that their target audiences remain captivated and engaged for years to come.