A few weeks ago, Instagram made headlines when it announced that users’ timelines would be affected by its new algorithm. On its blog, Instagram stated: “You may be surprised to learn that people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds. As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most. To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.”
This shockwave sent longtime users into a tizzy of anger and misdirected backlash at the company. After the initial outcry, users began requesting that their followers turn on post notifications as to not miss their photos and videos.
On the heels of this change, Instagram announced that it would be rolling out a new video feature. Previously, advertisers on Instagram were able to post 60-second videos versus the 15 seconds users were allotted. Now, according to Instagram, “you’ll soon have the flexibility to tell your story in up to 60 seconds of video. This is one step of many you’ll see this year. In the last six months, the time people spent watching video increased by more than 40 percent. And longer videos mean more diverse stories from the accounts you love.”
This is big news for enterprise marketers everywhere. Why? It allows marketers to engage with a primarily mobile audience like never before and truly build their brand beyond what they once could. What does this mean for your video strategy, and what are the best practices you can adopt with this change?
Videos you post on Instagram are being primarily watched on mobile devices, and advertisers are already raking in big money. According to eMarketer’s Instagram Mobile Ad Revenues report, net mobile ad revenues for Instagram worldwide are expected to reach $2.81 billion by 2017. This highly-competitive channel along with the new freedom of increased video length combine to make optimizing videos for Instagram a huge priority. It also means that social media marketers, content marketers, and videographers must work in alignment—now more than ever—to produce the best videos possible in the timeframe and dimensions Instagram allows.
In the pre-production and production stages, try to focus on medium to close-up shots. This will allow you to take full advantage of the mobile screen size. Just because you now have four times the length for videos does not mean you should incorporate massive landscape shots—the details will get lost in the size of the image. While these shots may work for the Web, keep in mind that you are creating something that busy people are watching on the go.
You’ve kept your Instagram video shots close and haven’t complicated them. Now, remember this: Even though you have 60 seconds to tell a story, you don’t always have to create videos that take a full minute.
Something you hear content editors say over and over again is, “trim the fat.” In other words, get rid of the stuff that isn’t important to your story—the unnecessary exposition, the repetitive scene, the quote that sounds nice but doesn’t move your story along.
Tell your stories in the lengths that make sense for your message: 15, 30, 45, or 60 seconds. Then, analyze which ones get the most engagement and adjust your strategy accordingly. However, even though your audience responds best to a certain video length, you should still be testing varying durations, narrative elements, types of conflict, and other features. What works today may not work in the future.
Sixty-second Instagram video introduces new opportunities to optimize video content styles on Instagram that were once previously possible but clunky, like Q&As and interviews. Previously, marketers would have to use the description to pose the question, and then the on-camera subject would be rushed to answer. You could tell.
With 60 seconds, questions and answers can be captured naturally within the video content, and speakers can fully explain their answers without talking a marathon a minute.
Voiceovers are another Instagram video style that no longer needs to be squeezed. Before, editors would have to trim down voiceovers to fit the time constraint; in the new format, good pacing is much easier to achieve. No longer rushed, content marketers are able to build tension and anticipation around their videos, incorporating silence—pauses between statements—as a key feature in creating suspense for the listener.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this update affects the mobile video landscape. Will Instagram video force apps like Snapchat to move past its current 10-second recording time? How is Twitter going to react, a channel where users can currently only post 30-second videos, but brands can post videos up to 10 minutes in length? Will Twitter enable it’s users in the same way Instagram has? With the introduction of minute-long video, is this going to change our perspective of what exactly “long form” means over the next few years?
I don’t think so. Videos of all lengths have their place within marketing funnels. Ideally, I think you will see companies using platforms such as Instagram and Twitter to drive traffic to long-form content that is being hosted independently on their website, Youtube, Vimeo or Facebook—gaining interest and then rewarding it. You’ll also see Youtube and Facebook competing directly with one another more and more in the very near future, to be crowned king of long-form video content.
How do you plan on taking advantage of Instagram’s new 60-second video feature?