Instagram Video: A Beginner's Guide.

The basic tips you need to know to get started.
Michael Berean
June 12, 2018 - 5 min. read

The growth of Instagram as a social media platform has been staggering and its ability to innovate with the times and give users feature-rich updates has proven to be effective in keeping it at the top of the social media hierarchy.

Since its introduction of the 15-second video in 2013 and the 60-second video in 2016, users have been utilizing Instagram to consume videos of all types.

Brands today need to leverage Instagram video for their social media marketing strategies.

Those that do will see that Instagram video offers some real benefits for growing both ROI and brand awareness.

Also see: 5 Examples of Brands Successfully Using Instagram Stories.

Posting video to the main feed

instagram feed videos 2018

Though Instagram Stories have proven to be wildly popular, Instagram’s main feed is still the central location for user attention.

When creating videos for Instagram, it is important to remember to use a video ratio of 1:1 to make sure they display correctly. 

You can certainly get away with wider video formats, but in order for it to be optimized for video previews, 1:1 is still the preferred Instagram video size.

What is the ideal Instagram video length?

Of course, it’s possible to edit Instagram video lengths, but we recommend creating content that is under 60 seconds long.

People on Instagram are conditioned to consume micro-content, so it’s important that brands adapt and deliver their messages in a short and to-the-point manner.

Additionally, don’t let production quality slow you down.

It is important to post often and deploy content as much as possible. High-quality content is always well received but is by no means a must on Instagram.

Handheld and on-the-go-style video is a widely accepted form of content among Instagram audiences, so don’t be afraid to make use of more informal Instagram video formats.

Text overlays & captions

Sometimes the most delicious recipes are the easiest.

A post shared by Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) on

This recipe video from Ben & Jerry’s is a great example of a short, curiosity-generating desciption and visually appealing in-video captions.

Text overlays and captions can really help drive engagement and Instagram video views because most people are browsing Instagram with their volume off.

Make sure your posts include descriptive, relevant titles and descriptions to support your narrative and engage more users.

We also suggest captioning the video if it features narration or dialogue, as this will allow users to instantly understand your message even when browsing with the volume off.

Facebook found that captioned videos experience an average 12% increase in video view times.

The likelihood that users remember your brand is also boosted massively, boasting a success rate of 82% compared to 18% with sound on and zero captions.

For more tips like these see: 21 Tips to Massively Increase Instagram Engagement in 2018.

Filters & apps: your hack for looking more polished

instagram video apps boomerang
Apps like Boomerang (now incorporated into Instagram itself) allow you to add awesome filters and effects to your videos. Source: Boomerang via Techcrunch

There are a host of apps and third-party tools to help you out on Instagram.

Almost too many, in fact. But here’s a sample:

Boomerang lets you create snackable, GIF-like videos.
Vintagio lets you go all Throwback Thursday style.
Tiny Planet gives you a fisheye lens to truly stand out.
Horizon Videos allows you to automatically turn vertical videos into horizontal videos.

Posting to Stories

One of Instagram’s signature features is its Stories platform, which allows users to post multiple 15-second videos or static images.

Various types of videos can be used here, from mobile phone footage to animations to moving quotes—and brands have found success here with every Instagram Stories video format.

When posting a video to Instagram stories, we suggest a few different strategies for optimization.

instagram stories video 2018

Instagram Stories are one of the most engaging video formats on the platform.

First, users should make sure their Instagram video resolution is 1080 x 1920.

However, if you do use a wider video captured in landscape mode, the video can still be used—but we recommend using those standard HD landscape dimensions.

Implementing a location geotag on Instagram Stories can help you reach more people.

How? Users can browse Stories by location and your videos will show up for them automatically when they are looking at Instagram Stories content.

Going live

Instagram Live video is a very popular way to engage your users and provide them with unique and exclusive content.

It makes them feel like they are tuning into something special and can provide a very powerful way for them to engage with your brand via live comments.

instagram live video 2018Live Instagram video has the potential to generate tons of engagement.

We suggest that with Instagram live, you aim to provide a unique, in-the-moment experience for your audience.

Going live at the bus stop in the morning is not going to move the needle as much as going live at a conference or special event would.

Webinars are also a great format for businesses to utilize when going live on Instagram. Users can tune in to hear prominent speakers talking about topics relevant to them.

Also see: 3 Benefits of Live Video for Your Brand.

Implementing a video strategy

When using Instagram video, remember that it is important to test and observe the traction of any and all efforts of your Instagram strategy. This allows businesses to figure out which format works best for them.

We suggest testing each video format separately and persisting even if you are not seeing results within the first week of posting.

Hang in there and try to craft quality content that users will find valuable. That will greatly increase your chances of creating more awareness of your brand through Instagram video.

Coming very soon (probably): Long-form video

*Update: the TechCrunch “scoop” below has indeed proven accurate, with Instagram announcing IGTV on June 20.

Your Instagram video arsenal is about to get a long-requested boost.

According to a semi-confirmed TechCrunch scoop, Instagram will be announcing a long-form video format on June 20.

This is a huge move that will catapult Instagram into direct competition with YouTube and SnapChat Discover.

It also thought that this function will be picking up the baton from, and greatly improving upon, the underperforming Facebook Watch.

TechCrunch’s sources are saying the format will be 4K, full-screen, vertical videos that will be able to run far longer than 60 seconds.

These will be hosted on a new hub with curated sections. Plus, Instagram video monetization is also thought to be in the cards.

It’s also suspected that Instagram will be announcing the milestone we’ve all been expecting—that it has just passed the one billion daily active user mark. It seems likely, as it hit 800 million in September 2017.

But stay tuned, Instagram will reveal all on June 20.

Webinar: The Anatomy of a Successful Instagram Ad Campaign.

Everything you need to know to create amazing IG ads.
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