Instagram certainly rocked the social marketing boat these last couple of weeks. With their announcement that your feed will soon be curated by an algorithm instead of by which accounts you follow and when they upload, the Instagram community was afire. Suddenly, everyone was drowning in requests to “turn on notifications if you still want to see my posts,” which would result in an unpleasant barrage of notifications on your phone. In the panic, Instagram cautioned everyone to calm down, that testing phase isn’t over yet, and an official rollout won’t happen for months.
On the heels of that announcement came Instagram’s video play. Previously, their videos for regular users was limited to 15 seconds. Now, a wide rollout is planned for allowing 60-second videos. Why the big jump? Well, people are watching a whole lot more video, for one. Engadget reports that the number of people watching video on Instagram jumped 40% in the last six months.
Looking towards video as the future of social platforms has been a prediction of the past couple years, and Instagram’s major leap towards video is not a big surprise. With video-centric Snapchat usage on the rise—100 million daily active users and counting—it makes sense that Instagram would want to compete by supporting longer video snippets. Everyone is watching more videos everywhere, and the amount streamed is likely only going to get higher. This means big and exciting things for social marketing; because of this new accessibility, we are all now challenged to create more creative and engaging video content.
When the 60-second video option is rolled out for your brand’s account, you content options will soar. With that in mind, I’ve put together a few guidelines for Instagram video, plus a few content ideas.
Instagram Video Tips
Invest in editing apps. It’s not as difficult as it seems to create good-looking Instagram videos. There are tons of free apps out there—some better than others—to help you get the right color balance, transitions, music, and more. In a land of scrolling—even algorithmically-defined scrolling—a well-edited video makes a difference.
A few apps that I recommend for your editing arsenal: Try Squaready to make your videos square with a white background or all around border for an artsy look. InstaVid creates those picture and video collages that you might have seen popping up lately—not to be confused with InstaVideo, which will help you add music to your videos. Boomerang and Hyperlapse will help you create sped-up or looped videos. YouTube Capture will help you grab a YouTube clip of yours for Instagram.
Be consistent in content. No one likes to see a brand adopt a trend in an unserious way. Make a time commitment to try out your Instagram video strategy, and evaluate at the end of that period. Better yet, start a regular Instagram video series, so that you are responsible for content, say, every other week. You may not be able to outsmart the algorithm at first, but you can continuously show up with good content, and that always pays of in the long term.
Be consistent in aesthetics. Test out aesthetic ideas before you post them, and once you decide on design preferences, stick to them. It helps you create higher quality content, and it helps your audience know what to expect. Eventually, when they see a clip of an Instagram video, they should be able to recognize it as your brand’s right away. That comes from consistent content and consistent design. Play with the editing apps above, and land on a color scheme, sound concept, and content voice.
A Few Ideas for Original Instagram Video Content
Go behind the scenes. Everyone loves content that gives an exclusive sneak peak, and if you have something to share, share it on video. Showcase the people who work for you in a regular spotlight series. The Nashville Symphony often uses video to showcase their orchestra members or guest soloists. While you might not have symphonic talent, you probably have in-house experts who have interesting ideas and experiences to share—interview them, or regularly ask them the same question (for example: How did you get this job? Why did you become interested in this field of work?)
Another way to go behind the scenes is to explore different areas of your office or field work where things are done. If you’re printing something massive, give a brief tour of the printing factory. If your design team is working hard on a website, make a short video showing their creative process.
Tease your longer content. If you’ve already made longer videos, use an extra app to clip it for Instagram. This kind of repurposing can lead to more hits on the video on its original platform, or it can simply keep your audience coming back to your Instagram for more bite-sized video content. For example, NPR’s clip of a longer documentary about punk musician James Alex is certainly enticing enough to lead people to click on the link in their bio for more.
Get educational. Valuable, shareable content has something to teach, and nonprofits always have information to give. Evaluate the expertise you have, and release snackable videos that educate as well as delight. Think in terms of tutorials or tips—how can someone be better at recycling? How can they become more aware of mental health issues in their community? Or think about tidbits that might move them to take action. What do you want them to learn about and what will they do with that knowledge? This video from Greenpeace’s Instagram account is simple and straightforward, but it uses the power of video to educate its audience about the prevalence of shark finning. The caption briefly describes the issue and ends in a call-to-action.
As more and more platforms embrace digital video content, the playing field for marketers gets more exciting. Video is an opportunity for greater transparency and authenticity, as well as a chance to up your creative game. I think this latest Instagram development heralds good things to come.