With its 38% higher engagement rate, videos are now more popular than photos on Instagram. This is an important detail considering the platform has 1 billion unique users each month from all over the world. This number is also dominated by the coveted youth demographic – 90% of Insta users are under 35!

More than 70% of US businesses (and 96% of all fashion businesses) are on Instagram and the platform is friendly to marketing messages. Many users even treat Instagram as an online store, so you could be getting direct sales along with all that engagement.

Instagram Quick Facts

Whether you’re running a business, marketing to your clients, or building a personal brand, creating content for Instagram can deliver huge results. Read on to learn how you can gain that 38% higher engagement rate from Instagram videos:

1. How long can videos be on Instagram?

Instagram videos can be as short as three seconds or as long as an hour, depending on the type of video. The company has been diversifying the types of video users can upload to the platform. These days, along with feed videos, you have Instagram stories, IGTV, and Instagram Live.

Let’s look at each of these in detail:

Instagram feed: 60 seconds max

If you want to post a video in your main feed, it needs to be 3-60 seconds long. To post, click the plus button at the bottom of the app, select your video, add filters, trim, and post:

instagram-video-feed

Before April 2016, videos could only be 15 seconds. The change to 60 seconds was the first of several moves Instagram has made to compete with YouTube over the last three years.

Here’s an easy-to-edit video template that will fit nicely within that 60-second limit:

Use this template

Instagram stories: 15 seconds max

Instagram stories are similar to Snapchat stories – photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. Videos shared this way can only be 15 seconds long, but you can string multiple stories together.

Content shared using the stories feature doesn’t appear in your followers’ feeds, or even in your profile grid. Instead, users click your profile pic in a bar above the regular Instagram feed:

Instagram stories section above the feed

Despite having no built-in ‘like’ or ‘comment’ function (you can slide into the poster’s DMs, and that’s it) Instagram stories are popular and effective.

Within weeks of launching, around a quarter of Instagram users were primarily watching stories, not browsing feeds. What’s more, one in five stories from businesses elicits a direct message from users!

To post a Story, tap and hold your profile icon at the top left of the app and choose ‘Add to your story’. Hold the record button to make one or more clips, add text, emojis, or effects, then share:

instagram-post-story

You can also select a pre-made video from your gallery. Here’s one you can customize before upload:

Use this template

Instagram Live: 60 minutes max

Instagram Live is a feature within stories that allows you to stream video to your audience in real-time for up to 60 minutes.

You’ll be able to see as people start watching once you go live, and users can like the video or leave comments while you stream. When you’ve finished, you can save the live video and re-share it for followers who missed out.

This is a very popular way for friends to connect by streaming live from parties, concerts, picnics, or anywhere else good times are being had. It’s also a great promotional tool. For example, you could:

  • Launch products or projects live
  • ‘Lean in’ with behind-the-scenes or personal content
  • Stream from exclusive industry events

To post a live video, go to stories and select Live > Go Live:

instagram-stories-live

IGTV: 10 minutes or 60 minutes max

IGTV is Instagram’s answer to YouTube, supporting longer videos ranging from 15 seconds to 10 minutes – or up to an hour for verified users.

You can use IGTV within Instagram or as a separate app. Just like YouTube, you can create an IGTV channel where people can view your content and subscribe, and videos are presented in widescreen, optimised for mobile devices and computers.

To post videos IGTV, you’ll need to set up an account first. Once that’s done, you can upload content from your mobile device or computer.

2. How to trim videos for Instagram

Instagram has inbuilt features that allow you to trim a video down. You simply select the video, then make sure it fits within the desired timestamps in the Instagram video editor:

instagram-video-trim

This editor is a blunt instrument, though – your video will simply start and end abruptly at the times selected. That’s fine for some content, but it’s not good enough for carefully curated or painstakingly created brand content.

A better option is to use a powerful online editor like Clipchamp to trim your video. That way you’ll be able to add audio and video fades or splice together different shots, resulting in more engaging content.

3. Can you get around Instagram’s video length restrictions?

Yes! While you can’t extend an individual video past its limit, you can work around those limits to post longer content in your feed or stories.

Carousel posts and related Insta stories

Since launching two years ago, Instagram’s carousel feature has allowed users to post up to 10 videos or photos in a single post. With a 60-second limit on each video, that means you could split up a 10-minute video and post it in a carousel.

You can do the same thing with stories, posting multiple related videos in one batch or else splitting up a single longer video that way. You can add as many as 100 stories in a day, so you could post a 25-minute video this way.

Using third-party apps

There are also third-party apps you can use to split your videos up into the right length for carousel or story posts:

4. But how long should Instagram videos be?

When it comes to the best length for Instagram videos, the short answer is less than a minute, ideally between 25 and 30 seconds.

This number is based on a study by Hubspot. They found that videos on Instagram with the most comments averaged around 26 seconds.

instagram-video-enjoy

That doesn’t mean that longer content can’t work on Instagram – reduced attention span is a myth – but you need to think about context and content when you post videos longer than a minute.

As a platform, Instagram is all about scrolling – if your content doesn’t hook people early, they’ll move on. But if your content is really good and gets people engaged, they’ll keep watching. Quality enables quantity.

Vary your video lengths

Your best bet is to mix things up. Post mostly bite-sized content with the occasional longer carousel or story post. Stick to 1-7 stories at a time. The completion rate for up to 7 stories is around 70%, then it drops off sharply.

Some content may even get decent engagement for the full hour of an Instagram live stream. If you get permission to stream from an exclusive industry event, then users who are interested in that industry may be happy to watch for 20, 30, even 60 minutes.

Announce and promote your longer videos

Use your regular posts to promote longer content ahead of time. Announce when a stream will be happening, and make engaging posts about it in the lead-up.

If you’re planning a cooking tutorial for IGTV, create related content to get people excited about it. You could try behind-the-scenes photos or short teaser clips.

Use this template

5. Tracking the performance of your Instagram videos

No one article will get your online video strategy sorted for you – your Instagram account is unique and so is your audience. While Instagram statistics work differently for different social media strategies, your marketing impact will remain sensitive to the messaging you use.

That’s why you need to track engagement on your videos to see whether they’re boosting or dimming your signal on social media. Look at things like:

  • Engagement levels – what percentage of followers engaged with each post
  • Best times to post  – what times of day gets you the best results
  • Reach – how many unique views are your posts getting
  • Viewer retention – how many people are watching to the end of your videos?

If you have a business account on Instagram, you can access a lot of this data through the app. There’s also a range of analytics tools out there to help you fine-tune your Instagram strategy.

Final thoughts

Eight of every ten Instagram users follow at least one brand, and average engagement levels for promotional posts are ten times higher than Facebook. You have a 2.2% chance of engagement for every follower on Instagram.

That might not seem high, but think about it:

  • 100 followers = 2 interactions
  • 1000 followers = 22 interactions
  • 100 000 followers = 2 200 interactions

Such opportunities for real-time engagement with users are what counts as people lose interest in traditional marketing. Getting your Instagram content right is worth the extra consideration – just imagine the possible ROI you could be taking in.