Instagram is Now a Video App

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At the end of June, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri posted a 2 ½-minute video to his Instagram and Twitter accounts that offered a glimpse of what is to come for Instagram in the next several months.

Most interestingly, Mosseri says Instagram is “no longer just a square photo sharing app,” that it is shifting its focus to video, to compete more directly with TikTok and YouTube. On a wider scale, Mosseri told users to look for changes to roll out relating to creators, videos, shopping and messaging. 

Although Mosseri kept his message vague overall, here a few specific changes to look for:

  • Users will likely begin to see less photos in their feed, and more videos.
  • Some features will be designed for better storytelling and entertainment.
  • Instagram will start showing recommended videos, meaning users will see videos from accounts they don’t follow.
  • Instagram will make video more immersive by offering a full-screen experience.

This is a significant change when you consider where Instagram began, as an image-sharing platform for users to edit and post square images. It also represents a broader evolution for social media.

What was once a way for people to connect with friends online has become a platform for businesses and content creators to push out high-quality content that supports their business goals. From influencers partnering with brands to brands launching products through Instagram, social media has evolved into a new form of mass communication for businesses. This change in focus for Instagram is a logical next step. 

The biggest takeaway from Mosseri’s announcement is that it’s crucial for businesses hoping to find success on Instagram to prioritize video.

Several video formats

Instagram offers several different types of video content. Try to share content frequently in each format, because posting across all these formats will help ensure you’re consistently trying a variety of things and reaching people through Instagram no matter how they use the network.

Video formats Instagram offers:

Feed Posts: In addition to photos, Instagram allows you to post 3-60 second videos within your feeds. Once you’ve either recorded a video in Instagram or uploaded one, you can apply a filter, add a caption and add a location tag before posting. 

Instagram Stories: Here you can post images, or 15-seconds-or-less video clips. You can upload pre-recorded video or record within Instagram. Then, Instagram allows you to add text, graphics, music, polls, quizzes, filters and more. Instagram Stories automatically disappear after 24 hours, but if you’d like them to stick around longer, you can make them a Highlight on your profile.

Reels: Reels allow you to shoot and edit short, 30-seconds-or-less videos within Instagram. Once you record a reel, you can make edits such as adding music, changing the speed of your reel, adding a camera effect and more. 

Live: Instagram Live allows you to start a live broadcast that others can watch in real-time. They can also leave comments. Once your Live is over, you can save it to IGTV so Instagram users can watch it later, though comments won’t be saved.

IGTV: IGTV is similar to YouTube. It provides a place for users to upload longer videos—up to 15 minutes when uploading from a mobile device, and up to 60 minutes when uploading from the web. 

As you’re creating video content, remember that the Instagram algorithm will favor videos with high entertainment value. To tap into this, focus on creating engaging videos that will entice users to watch through to the end and then share with their own followers or friends.

Highly shareable content that generally performs well includes things such as relatable videos, memes, “TikTok challenges” (these involve recreating a video posted by someone else and encouraging others to do the same), inspirational quotes, interesting images, informational content, and timely content such as content related to a holiday.

If you’re stuck on how to move from image-driven content to video content, remember that you can put music to a few images, similar to a slideshow, and post that instead of a still image. Be creative, but don’t overthink it!

Other video strategy

As you work to incorporate more video into your overall Instagram strategy, a few other things to consider.

Accessibility is a big part of creating video content that resonates. For example, turning on Instagram’s captions feature or adding your own captions is a great way to make your content more accessible for those who are hearing impaired.

Make sure your Instagram stories are shareable. Keeping your stories unshareable limits your organic reach; letting them be shared empowers your followers to recommend your business. It also helps new followers or customers find you more easily. 

Using location tags in feed posts where applicable is an easy way to expand your reach. It helps people find you locally, and it may even help the algorithm understand your content better and show your videos to people nearby.

Encourage other users to post about or share your videos by running giveaways whereby users have to tag you in their posts or tag someone else in your post. Or, run a user-generated content campaign to encourage people to post content with your product and then tag you in it.

Bumps ahead?

These appear to be ongoing changes that Instagram will continue to roll out, rather than a sudden and complete shift. This means that everyone—influencers and brands alike—are figuring this out at the same time.

Your Instagram stats may become bumpy for a bit. But if you continue to focus on a video-first strategy and are committed to frequently examining and reassessing your efforts to determine what’s working and what isn’t, you should see things begin to recalibrate and ultimately see continued success on Instagram.

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