With over 1 billion monthly-active users, of which over half are younger than 34, Instagram has a lot to offer for most companies... including yours, no doubt.

And according to a study conducted by Mention, video posts have the highest overall engagement rate, achieving 38% higher than image posts.

guide to creating Instagram videos

Your face when you saw this stat...

That's right. To get the best out of this platform and to put your brand truly out there, video is your best bet.

Before racing off to create that killer first video, it's a good idea to learn some best practices, particularly in terms of the Instagram video format and social media techniques. Let's go through some of them together.

Instagram videos in your feed 📱

If you're a social media fanatic, you'll certainly be familiar with the term "feed." It's simply the flow of activity that users see on the home page of their Instagram application, but also on your profile when they go to view it.

The Instagram feed presents a fantastic opportunity for posting engaging videos that will make your target audience want to know more about your brand and regularly follow your activity on the platform.

To post a video organically on Instagram, make sure to adapt it to the optimal technical specifications:

  • Required duration for a video in the feed: 3 to 60 seconds.
  • Recommended digital format: mp4.
  • Video format: square, vertical and horizontal formats are all accepted; although, as you will see, two of them are more suitable. Also, note that the thumbnail in your profile will appear in square format.

What kind of videos does Instagram post on its feed?

Instagram lives up to its status as a "social network": users love to see relatable, authentic content, even from a company. So, it's worth creating videos that your target audience can relate to.

In particular, you could create:

  • Presentations of products or services: Instagram is a great platform for announcing the launch of a new offer, or to showcase your latest product packshot.
  • Interview excerpts: if you want to post an interview that is longer than one minute, you can simply extract the best parts and edit them together into a shorter, high-impact version.
  • Social videos: create simple slideshows with quality photos and punchy text in popular formats such as "Top 5" or "News of the Week".

The challenge is to produce short but engaging videos that will make audiences want to follow your business more closely.

PlayPlay Pro tip: get noticed in the Instagram feed

Remember that the Instagram app does not rotate on a smartphone, as YouTube does, for example. That's why it's recommended to adapt your videos to the two standard smartphone formats:

Vertical format (1920 x 1080 px)
Square format (864 x 864 px)

You could post the video in horizontal format (1080 x 608 px), but the user experience will be affected... and wouldn't that be a shame?

If your video includes voices and speech, make sure to add subtitles. In the Instagram feed, videos are automatically triggered ('auto-play') when the screen is scrolled... but by default, the sound is turned off. This way, you can still catch the attention of audiences without the sound enabled.

Prepare an optimized, square thumbnail of your video, which you can import at the time of posting. By default, Instagram will choose a visual that appears in the middle of your video: a practice that is not ideal for those who want to give a professional look to their content.

Instagram videos in Stories 🤳

Influencers use Instagram Stories on a daily basis, as if they were born with smartphones in their hands: Stories have truly taken the internet by storm. Well highlighted on the Instagram app, Stories allow you to catch the eye of audiences that follow you, in an accurately bite-sized format.

To create Instagram videos specifically for the Story format, be sure to adhere to the following specifications:

  • Duration of an Instagram Story: 1 to 15 seconds; however, if you upload a 60-second video, it will be split into 4 separate Stories. Beyond 60 seconds, your video will be shortened.
  • Ideal size for a Story: 1920 x 1080 px.
  • Accepted sizes for a Story: 9:16, 4:5 and 16:9.
  • Size of the video file: 4GB maximum.
  • Recommended digital format: format MP4, MOV ou GIF.

What type of Instagram video to post as a Story?

Originally, the Instagram Story was made to accommodate spontaneously filmed videos, especially in selfie mode. That being said, it's also possible to upload a pre-made video in a Story. The goal for your brand is to play on this very dynamic format and offer engaging, fun Stories.

You could create:

  • Spontaneous videos, filmed at your offices or at events in which you participate, that will liven up your community with a touch of authenticity.
  • Teasers of longer videos, which you will post on YouTube or via IGTV (this will be discussed later in the article).
  • Product tutorials and unboxings, potentially filmed by your influencers.
  • Social videos, which work particularly well in the Story format.
  • Podcast excerpts, including subtitles and an attractive background image.

The big challenge is to leverage the dynamic rhythm of the story, playing on the allotted 4 x 15 seconds to deliver a punchy message.

Make standout Instagram Stories

If you decide to film your stories directly from your smartphone, use the available filters. Not only do they add to the overall quality of your "spontaneous" videos, but they can also help you to create humor and be 'on trend'.

To do so, you need to access the Instagram effects gallery:

Swipe through the list of available filters when uploading a Story, all the way to the right.

Then click on the magnifying glass icon.

You will then have access to a whole range of filters — it's up to you to be original and creative!

Add text and annotations with the Instagram application itself to describe the content of your story. You can tag partners or influencers, and add context to the video in order to deliver a more detailed message to your audience.

To deliver even more engagement, use Instagram "stickers" such as polls, questions, quizzes, or the brand new "challenge" sticker. Your audience will be able to interact with your Stories, which will get them more involved with your brand!

IGTV videos on Instagram 📹

Launched in June 2018, the "IGTV" (Instagram TV) feature of the famous social application has now found its audience. Despite its ambitious vision, IGTV has not yet succeeded in dethroning YouTube, but it does give individuals and businesses like you the opportunity to post longer videos on Instagram.

Your target audience can access your IGTV videos through the feed of your Instagram page, and also through a tab that is dedicated to your IGTV. What's the best practice for a brand? Make your IGTV tab a hangout spot for your target audience, where they can find and interact with longer video content that revolves around their interests.

Here are some technical specs to bear in mind for posting your Instagram videos on IGTV:

  • Duration of an IGTV video: 15 seconds to 10 minutes if you have less than 10,000 subscribers; up to 1 hour for certified accounts or accounts with more than 10,000 subscribers.
  • Recommended video file format: mp4.
  • Format for an IGTV video: preferably vertical, in order to appeal to audiences who will primarily be viewing videos on smartphones.

What kind of Instagram video to post on IGTV?

Finally, thanks to IGTV, you have a little more time to convey your marketing or brand messages across! So take advantage of this by offering more in-depth content to your community.

You could create:

  • Detailed tutorials, taking your audience step by step to help them discover your products or services and how to use them.
  • Long interviews, drawing inspiration from the masters of the format, such as Brut.
  • Micro-reports, on topical subjects or themes of interest to your target audience.

Think far and wide and tap into all the subjects that could attract your targets. If, for example, you sell sportswear, why not establish a partnership with a yogi influencer, and offer micro yoga sessions to your subscribers?

PlayPlay Pro tip: create share-worthy IGTV videos

💡With IGTV, you have more time available to create high-quality content. Don't overlook transitions and motion design effects in your videos, and give your content a professional look. These added flourishes will encourage audiences to watch the video right through to the end.

💡 Maybe you filmed an Instagram Live at your last event? Or to interview an influencer... why not share it in IGTV format afterward? When it's finished, you just have to save it and then post it on your feed. Make sure to check the audio and video quality before sharing it on IGTV.

And what about Instagram ads?

Instagram also has its own advertising service, in which it may be worth investing to promote your products, or to attract more followers to your account.

It's possible to post your Instagram ads in:

  • "In-stream" format (i.e. in the news feed of your target audience). For this type of advert, choose the traditional Instagram format (square) which will display your video well in the feed.
  • Story format: For this type of promotional video, choose the vertical format, like a real Instagram Story.

Advertisers love it... maybe you're tempted to try it out too?

So, now you're up to date with the best practices for making killer videos on Instagram.

But why stop there! 😉

A few more Instagram tips to add to your locker 🔥

We still have a few more expert tips to unveil, so that you can create some truly mind-blowing Instagram videos that engage audiences and help get your online sales ticking over.

Tips to help you create your Insta videos

It's a fact: video is without a doubt the most time-consuming content to create for marketers and other community managers who are seeking online engagement. So make sure you choose a video editing tool that allows you to create high-quality videos — rapidly.

At PlayPlay, we believe in the power of simplicity: our tool not only helps companies to create videos in 20 or so minutes, but also allows them to adapt every video to each of the key formats  (vertical, horizontal and square), in just one click. Because after all, it would be an absolute shame not to post your superb Instagram video on all the other social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, or to turn them into YouTube videos — all in the blink of an eye!

A second piece of advice, unknown to many brands: did you know that you can publish your organic Instagram posts, stories and IGTV... from your desktop computer? To do so, go to Instagram's Creator Studio, where you can:

  • Plan all your Instagram posts in advance.
  • Analyse the statistics of your posts.
  • Gain insights about audience of your posts.

It's very practical and is a real time-saver for anyone who wants to go all-in and develop an in-depth marketing strategy on Instagram!

Tips to make your Instagram videos stand out from the crowd

Over 100 million photos and videos are posted on Instagram every day. So, how do you find your place in the Insta sun and make your videos really stand out?

First, get your account certified by Instagram. If you are a fairly well-known brand, you will just have to make a "Verification Request" from your application settings. You will then get the famous little blue badge next to your name, making your brand far more credible on the platform... and you will be able to post IGTV videos longer than 10 minutes!

It's also worth developing a real hashtag strategy. Of course, every company dreams about having its own branded hashtag that becomes #famous and is visible all over the internet. But to get the word out about your Instagram account, make sure you identify and use the most popular hashtags that your target audiences are looking at. To do this, you can use a tool like Ritetag. The goal: land in the "Explore" tab of your key audiences!

Finally, It's impossible to talk about Instagram without addressing influencer marketing. On this social media platform particularly, influencers hold the keys to the castle. They often accumulate highly qualified audiences, and they can have an almost hypnotic hold over their followers.

So, take some time to identify appropriate influencers on Instagram, and offer them partnerships. Start small, by targeting micro-influencers and offering them the opportunity to test your products while filming themselves do it. You will then be able to share these videos on your own account, tagging the influencer in question, and, thus, benefiting from the influencer's visibility on the platform.

Tips for making Instagram video a true business asset

Many of you may be thinking: That's all well and good for building brand awareness or image... but how does do I convert any of this into real conversions?

Excellent question... the answer depends on what you're posting on Instagram:

  • If you showcase your e-commerce products in your Instagram videos or images, remember to activate the 'Shopping' feature. This allows you to directly link your content to your products; your targets can then order them in a few clicks. Clever!
  • In the videos on your Insta feed or IGTV, it's not possible to integrate a call-to-action directly as a link. The only possibility: include the URL in your Instagram bio, and indicate at the end of the video and in your post that "the link is in the bio".
  • You will have to reach 10,000 followers before you can add the famous "swipe up" feature to your stories which allows you to include a link directly to your site. You can do it! 💪

Even if Instagram seems to be more about fun before anything else, don't forget to rationalize your strategy as much as possible, by continuously analyzing the KPIs related to your influence and the engagement generated on the platform. Follow the number of views, likes and comments on your videos, as well as the number of shares or followers.

Want to go one step further and truly harness the power of video in your marketing mix? Check out the 7 essentials for a truly effective video marketing strategy now.