By now, you’re probably well aware that video is a crucial part of any brand marketing strategy. (Click here just in case you want a refresher on why.) But the one platform you may not have been utilizing its full potential for video? Instagram. We know: Instagram is a moving target, especially when it comes to organic reach. But the platform is becoming more transparent about what makes certain posts—and accounts—hit, and a big part of that success stems from the use of video.
“We’re no longer a photo-sharing app,” head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said in July 2021. Mosseri went on to explain that the app would begin to experiment with different types of video, particularly “full-screen, immersive, entertaining, mobile-first video.” Simply put, he said, “People are looking to Instagram to be entertained. We have to embrace that.”
The concept of being entertained on Instagram is something that can be carried through to the marketing side as well. In this post, we’ll dig into what’s changed on the app, the different forms of video that can be shared, and even share some ideas to get you started.
What has changed, and why?
If you’ve been on Instagram in the last six months, you’ve likely noticed some of the differences in both the app’s appearance and user experience. For instance, now if you click on a video in your feed, it enlarges to appear full-screen. And perhaps more notably, once that video wraps up, it scrolls to a new video from an account you may or may not follow—not unlike the experience on another social media app: TikTok.
And as it turns out, Instagram is reportedly testing an entirely new user experience designed to appeal to younger users. Described by SocialMediaToday as “a combined display of relevant image posts, Stories, Reels and Video content, all displayed in a full-screen, swipeable UI,” the new interface will look even more like TikTok, which has emerged as one of Instagram’s key competitors. Since its astronomical success at the start of the pandemic, TikTok has changed the way we consume video content. And that doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.
For example, Instagram introduced Instagram Reels, a video experience that shares a lot in common with TikTok, in 2020. While some may have been slow to adopt Reels, the app is incentivising users to embrace the feature by placing more algorithmic “weight” on video content. In other words: The more video content you post, the more engagement you’re likely to see. And not only on your video posts. The company recently shared more intel about how their algorithm works in a June 2021 blog post, revealing that Reels, Stories, and the main feed all utilize different algorithms and processes to tailor content for each user. To dig deeper on how it all works, check out the blog post here.
Instagram Video vs. Reels
For those of us who have been here a while, you may be wondering: Haven’t we done this “pivot to video” before? Instagram first introduced 15-second videos in 2013, and then introduced IGTV, its long-form video format, in 2018. However, Instagram officially got rid of IGTV in 2021, rebranding to Instagram Video (not to be confused with Reels, which encompasses the more “snackable” videos under 60 seconds).
Think of the two formats as Instagram’s answers to its biggest competitors in the video space: TikTok and YouTube. While TikTok thrives among Gen Z, YouTube continues to be one of the biggest platforms for creators across all demographics. It definitely has a hold on the long-form video format. Instagram, for its part, is now trying to hold onto its market share. This means that there’s an opportunity to succeed in both short- and long-form video on the platform.
How to maximize success on Instagram Video
Don’t let Instagram be an afterthought: Keep it in mind when planning your larger marketing strategy. Post timing should be cohesive, and video content should fit in the context of your larger content calendar. (For example, a new launch should roll out across all channels simultaneously, from email to website to Instagram Reels.)
At The Line Studios, we have seen first-hand how insights can help inform creative decisions, making for higher impact assets. This is especially true when used in conjunction with other analytics (e.g. GA) to provide critical feedback on campaign efficacy. We highly recommend monitoring Instagram analytics, especially when first kicking off a video strategy. You can see metrics including how long people are watching your videos and how many people are sharing them. In a larger sense, analytics can also inform future content. Remember: Video is a key ingredient in a successful social strategy, but it’s not fail-safe, and it may take time to find out what works with your audience.
This is how we do it
We believe weaving the video strategy into your existing e-commerce shoots is one of the most efficient and effective ways to capture compelling short-form video content. The Line Studios helps facilitate this for our brand partners through careful planning to make the most of a shoot day. The creation of dynamic shot lists allows us to flag key items for an ancillary team to feature in engaging and social-first concepts that aren’t typically captured on the e-comm set itself. Often, we’re delivering an additional 30 video assets that work perfectly for the brand’s Stories or Reels – a huge help to keep that social feed fresh!
For long-form content, strategic thinking combined with an affordable approach is key. There are a multitude of ways for a brand marketing video to be edited to create many high-impact and unique stories about the collection or product. In addition, those marketing videos can be captured during editorial and marketing campaign shoots for maximum efficiency.
Here are some short- and long-form ideas, for every marketing budget:
- PRODUCT IN ACTION: Is your product hard to translate in photo form? An eye-catching video can help showcase it in a way stills can’t. The lightness of a dress or the flexibility of a sneaker can be captured from PDP videos, edited and repurposed here.
- TUTORIALS: Show that you’re an authority in your category by sharing how-tos. Be creative! They can include your products or not—as long as they fit your brand ethos.
- BEHIND THE SCENE SNEEK PEEKS: Start building buzz before a big launch with videos from set, or BTS exclusives they can only see on your account.
- INTERACTIVE Q&As: Instagram makes it easy to do Q&A sessions on Stories. Plus, it’s an opportunity to share your brand’s personality, and help create a connection with followers.
- UGC VIDEOS: User-generated content is often some of the most persuasive marketing there is. But don’t forget to ask the original creator for permission to share! We like to create a brand cheat-sheet so that anyone posting has a clear idea of the brand’s vision and voice.
- VIDEO SERIES: A strong franchise can be an effective way to not only build your following, but have them return again and again. Reinforcing your brand message through recurring videos is a great way to strengthen your brand position.
- STREAM AN EVENT: Utilize Instagram Live to share your brand’s unique access. Your avatar will get priority placement at the top of the Stories bar for the duration of the live, and it can be rewatched for 24 hours. Followers may also get an alert that you’ve started the video, bumping you back up in their consciousness. You can also save the video, and upload it to Instagram Video.
- INTERVIEWS: For a more polished take on the Q&A, try filming an interview with talent that can be shared and rewatched anytime. Use in-house talent for these or bring in external experts who can help broaden your brand’s reach to their audiences as well.
The key is to be strategic. As mentioned earlier, users go to Instagram to be entertained. So whether it’s short-form video (on Reels or Stories) or long-form (on Instagram Video), consider who will be watching your content, why they’re tuning in, and what their takeaways will be.