The popularity of Instagram needs no introduction. In June 2018, Instagram announced their crossing of the one billion monthly active users threshold. In the same month, the value of this social platform was reported to have surpassed $100 billion. To put these numbers in perspective, Instagram was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion just over six years back.
A major factor of Instagram’s popularity is its focus on visual content. Photos and videos tend to engage users significantly more than text content. On an average, 4.21% of Instagram followers tend to engage with content posted by brands as opposed to s 0.07% and 0.03% for Facebook and Twitter respectively. Unsurprisingly, user engagement on Instagram has been increasing by 81% every year.
In the past two years, Instagram has dedicated its resources to video content. Back in 2016, Instagram made it possible for users to upload videos of up to one minute in length. More recently, they announced the launch of IGTV that allows users to post hour-long videos to the app.
While these announcements may challenge the conventional strategies of Instagram marketers, they also present potential opportunities. In this article, we will provide you with actionable tips to create the perfect videos for Instagram.
What makes a video tick
Instagram is an endless pit of photos and videos. The trick to standing out in the crowd and increasing brand engagement is understanding what makes a user watch certain videos and skip others.
The length of a video can directly impact engagement rates. However, there is no “one-size-fits-all” length that works across all social networks.
A study published by HubSpot found that the Instagram videos which received the most comments were under 30 seconds long. At the same time, the ideal lengths for other platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were 45 seconds, 1 minute and 2 minutes respectively.
Instagram users expect videos to be short primarily because, until very recently, the lengthiest videos permitted were just one minute long. Stories are typically 15 seconds long. Any video that takes more than 30 seconds thus needs to be incredibly engaging for users to continue watching.
This could, however, change over time. With the launch of IGTV, it is likely for Instagram users to become accustomed to lengthier videos. It is wise to continue experimenting with videos of various lengths to see what most effectively engages your followers.
According to a survey published by Later, Instagram users are most active on the site during lunch hours (11AM- 1PM). In other words, a lot of browsing happens at work or school, and these users may not have the luxury of watching videos at full volume.
In-video animated text captions have proven to be one of the most effective strategies in keeping your viewers engaged in such circumstances. Professional text animations make it possible for viewers to watch videos without having to turn their volume up. Promo provides a quick and effective way to add the highest professional text over premium stock footage to create your own videos.
Video format can also play a significant role in user engagement. GIFs or mini clips are among the most popular video formats. These videos tend to be between one and two seconds long.
Here is a second long video from Starbucks that showcases their Teavana brand. The video features two bottles of Teavana being clinked and has garnered over 224,000 views and nearly 400 comments.
For longer videos to be engaging, they need to feature something captivating. Here is Starbucks again, featuring a work of art with one of their refresher beverages as the centerpiece. This video is nearly 15 seconds long and is popular simply because of the arresting visuals. The video has received 550,000 views and 1300 comments.
Commercials generally don’t tend to do well on Instagram. However, if your brand already enjoys a solid fan following, commercials may just be the right kind of video to boost engagement. Adidas, for example, has over four million followers more than Starbucks, and their commercials consistently get hundreds of comments.
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Another reason why Adidas is so successful with their ‘commercials’ strategy is that they have managed to churn out new commercial videos on a routine basis. Producing such high-quality commercials may not seem practical for most other businesses.
But you don’t need to be a top 100 brand to create a stream of video content quickly and affordably. Promo has a video library of over 12.5 million high-quality videos that can be easily edited to include your own branding and marketing slogans. If your business has a dedicated fan following, it may be a good idea to invest in a Promo subscription to churn out new high-quality commercials every week for your Instagram feed.
Live streams are by far one of the most effective ways to engage your audience because Instagram actively promotes live streams by featuring them on top of your followers’ timeline. To maximize follower engagement, spread the word about your live streams well in advance so your followers know to tune in during the event.
Producing videos that users love
Now that we know what video formats and lengths work on Instagram, the next step is learning how to produce these videos.
Producing high-quality videos on a regular basis can be a lot more expensive than producing photos or text content. At the same time, given Instagram’s high engagement metrics, the ROI from such resource-intensive campaigns can still be higher than what marketers observe from their content marketing campaigns on Facebook or Twitter.
Collages are extremely popular among brands that are launching a new product or a product variant. Collages bring together a handful of photos into one seamless video. The ideal collage is less than 45 seconds long and has an adequate number of in-video captions.
Producing Instagram-worthy collages can take a lot of time and resources. With Slidely, brands can quickly create high-quality collage videos that Instagram users love.
Vlogs or “selfie-videos” are typically popular among Instagram influencers to connect directly with their followers through Stories. Vlogs are so popular because they let brands create a narrative that followers can better connect with. Brands that do not have a “face” tend to work with influencers who can use these video formats to connect to their audience.
As a brand, nothing sells your product better than in-action videos. These are video demonstrations of your product in action. One of the best examples in this category is GoPro, the camera company, that shares exhilarating videos of customers with GoPros strapped on.
Although GoPro has a significant advantage over brands in other industries given the nature of their product, in-action videos are also highly effective in other categories. The blender company Blendtec shares videos of their product being used to prepare food while local businesses like the power washing company below use videos to demonstrate their service.
Video marketing tips for Instagram
Once you have your video production strategy in place, it is important to take the following tips into account for your video marketing campaigns:
- Instagram is pretty strict when it comes to their display sizes. The best-recommended size for Instagram videos is 640 X 640 pixels for timeline videos and 750 X 1334 pixels videos for Stories. Also, Square videos are emerging as a popular choice due to their higher view rates.
- Make the most out of captions—they set the narrative to your video and are effective in driving engagement.
- Remember that a lot of your followers may be watching your content during their commute or even at work. Reduce their dependency on audios by providing subtitles.
- Invest in post-production—edit videos to remove anything that is unnecessary and invest in effects like slow-mo and filters. They help make your videos rich and captivating. But beware of going overboard on the effects.
In addition, make sure you track your engagement metrics regularly and identify factors that move the needle up or down. This way, you can continue to gain meaningful insights to make your video marketing campaign on Instagram a success.
Author Bio: Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of free business apps and resources. Check out their recent marketing guide on Facebook analytics