Instagram Video 101: Posts, Stories, & IGTV

Instagram video is an excellent tool in a marketer’s toolbox.

Video gives you the ability to share complex, in-depth stories that can’t be conveyed in a single image.

Whether you’re trying to build awareness around a campaign, promote your products, educate your audience, videos offer a lot more story-telling potential than photos do.

There are different areas and ways to post video on Instagram and we’re going to talk about the technical specs and what type of video is best to post where…


1 – Regular Instagram Video Posts

HOW to make a Video Post

Instagram video posts have evolved quite a bit since they were first introduced in 2013.

They are no longer limited to 15 seconds so you can create long-form, high-production videos up to 1 minute long that generate a ton of engagement.


Video Post technical specs:

  • Best Video Format: MP4
  • Length: 3 seconds to 60 seconds
  • Size: Instagram doesn’t limit file size, but we recommend keeping your videos under 50MB
  • Orientation: square, portrait, and landscape
  • Aspect ratio: a minimum of 1.91:1 and a maximum of 4:5

First, tap the “+” button at the bottom of the Instagram app and then select the Library option.

Here you’ll be able to scroll through your camera roll to find the right video.

Once you do, you can choose to either share it with a square aspect ratio (this is the default) or you can tap the “dimensions” icon to view the full-size image.


You can create a carousel post featuring multiple videos by tapping the “album” icon on the right side of the screen.



Tips for a Great Video Post

Now that we’ve covered how to share your videos on Instagram, let’s take a minute to talk about how you can optimize your video posts to get more traction.


Tip 1: Pick an Eye-Catching Cover Photo

In a world where attention is getting more and more scarce, getting your followers to engage with your videos (especially longer ones) can be pretty difficult. But one way to improve your chances is to pick a stellar cover photo.

Just like you spend time finding photos that look great in your feed, you need to invest a good amount of time finding a great cover photo for your video. Otherwise, all that hard work you put into actually creating your video will go to waste!

When picking a cover photo, try to find one that captures the overall message of your video and has the best chance of stopping viewers from scrolling past your content.


Tip 2: Use Hashtags 

Hashtags are a great way to boost your organic growth. 

They act like keywords on Google and allow people who don’t follow you to find your content. 

We recommend saving a note on your phone with a few groups of hashtags that you can cycle through.

When you’re done making a post, immediately paste a list of hashtags into a comment on your own post.

We recommend choosing from a mix of small, medium, and large hashtags. Find your niche on Instagram and try adding some tags that you think are relevant to your post.

We usually recommend adding some about your location, what you sell, some of the  gear you use, and the name of your industry.

For example, if you ran a juice bar in Toronto, and made a post about your new Summer Smoothie:

#organicfood #strawberrysmoothie #torontoorganic #torontojuice #veganfood #torontovegan #nutribullet #vitamix #KingSt #food

Hashtags can be a great way to reach new audiences, and be sure to check your analytics to see how well they are working. 



2 – Creating Instagram Stories Videos

Beyond being highly entertaining, Instagram Stories are great for growing your engagement, building brand awareness, driving traffic to your website, and even making e-commerce sales!

But, what videos should you post to IG Stories?  It’s good to post a mix of fun, lighthearted content and promotional content that reflects your brand’s tone and style.  Don’t be afraid of posting something goofy: a short video of your office dog or a picture of your team out celebrating a birthday — just make sure it always aligns well with your Instagram aesthetic and brand messaging!


Instagram Stories videos technical specs:

  • Best Video Format: MP4
  • Length: 1 second to 15 seconds
  • Orientation: square, portrait, and landscape
  • Aspect ratio: a minimum of 1.91:1 and a maximum of 9:16 (Instagram recommends an aspect ratio of 4:5 and 9:16)


There are two ways to share videos on Instagram Stories; you can shoot your own IG story by picking camera mode – you can have some fun playing around with these camera options.   The second way to share video on Stories is to upload a pre-recorded video from your camera roll. 

Once you’re done recording or uploading your video, you can add any number of GIFs, stickers, text, and more to your story.

Keep in mind that since videos on Instagram Stories top out at 15 seconds, so if your clip is longer than that, Instagram will trim the end.

But what if you want to share a single long video as several 15-second stories?

Instagram will automatically clip videos that are longer than 15 seconds into individual 15-second segments.

Note: When Instagram trims your videos into 15-second segments, it doesn’t retain the text from the previous (or initial) story, so you’ll have to re-add to your text. 


Tips for Making Great IG Stories Videos


Tip 1: Tell stories in a forward sequence

Due to the tap-forward progression of Instagram Stories, a good strategy to get more engagement and completion on your videos is to tell a story in a clear sequence.

For example, if you’re sharing a series of videos about one of your products, you could create 4-5 videos with compelling tidbits of information. This will persuade viewers to keep tapping through your story to learn more. 

Not only will this make your story more cohesive, but it also makes the information more digestible!


Tip 2: Use GIFs, Stickers, Hashtags, Tagging, etc. 

A way to keep your audience engaged longer is to use GIFs, stickers, text, and other fun design elements.

For example, a lot of businesses use the “Sound On” sticker to get viewers to turn their sound on while watching the video.

If your goal is to get your followers to watch your video through to the end, you can add an interactive sticker, like Poll Stickers or Question Stickers. These can persuade viewers to stick it out and hear everything that you’re saying!

When you tag someone (ie. @homedepotcanada) in the story post, it will notify them of the story and allow them to re-share it.  Other people cannot share your story, only those who are tagged in it. 


3 – Videos for IGTV

Launched as Instagram’s first standalone video platform, IGTV gives businesses a new channel to grow their following, showcase their products, and show-off their creativity.  IGTV allows you to post videos longer than 60-seconds. 


IGTV Video technical specs:

  • Best Video format: MP4
  • Length: 15 seconds to 10 minutes for smaller accounts; 15 seconds to 60 minutes for larger and verified accounts
  • Size: 650MB for videos less than 10 minutes; 3.6GB for videos up to 60 minutes
  • Orientation: vertical (portrait) or horizontal (landscape)
  • Aspect ratio: Instagram recommends that vertical IGTV videos should have an aspect ratio of 9:16, while horizontal videos should be 16:9


Before you can upload a video to IGTV, you need to create your channel! The good news is that Instagram has made IGTV super simple and easy to use.

Sign in to the IGTV App (available on iOS & Android) and log in with your usual Instagram username and password.

Next, click on the Settings gear icon in the right-hand corner, and then click “Create Channel”

That’s it! Now you’re ready to upload your videos!

When you post your first video, you’ll notice a new section on your Instagram profile — a tab dedicated to just your IGTV videos.

You can also add a cover photo whether it’s your own custom cover or a thumbnail taken from your video. The cover photo is what will show up on your channel page and in the IGTV categories, so make it catchy!

For your cover photo, Instagram recommends an aspect ratio of 1:1.55 (or 420px by 654px).



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