If video is not part of your Instagram strategy, you might be falling behind. In 2017, Instagram announced that there are now 2 million advertisers using the platform for business. They also noted that the highest area for growth was video, with time spent watching video up 80% and the number of videos produced daily up 400% from 2016. But how do you come up with original Instagram ideas daily?
Instagram is a flexible platform that users love. For social marketers, it provides endless opportunities to share beautiful video content for a mobile audience.
To build a following on Instagram, you need high-quality content that engages users and rings true to your brand. Since it started as an app between friends, Instagram has always been about providing bite-size windows into your world. To do this, you don’t need a big marketing budget, fancy video equipment, or celebrity endorsements. You just need to make video content that people care about.
Instagram offers a real chance to engage with your followers, and video is the best way to engage people. So without further ado, here are 15 Instagram ideas to inspire you from brands that are killing it on Instagram with video.
Instagram Idea #1: Come up with a Daily Stories Strategy
Instagram Stories are a great way to connect with potential customers on a daily basis. However, producing original content every day takes a lot of planning – even if just for the sake of looking spontaneous! There are many ways to produce stories, but a good place to start is with basic sequences that introduce your brand and what you do. One of the best features of Instagram Stories is the ability to save your story sequence. Followers can visit these slideshows at the top of your profile whenever they want.
Check out these four Instagram ideas for taking your stories to the next level.
Brand Intro via Stories
A branded introduction, like this one from ArtsyCity, is a great way to inform a new visitor about what you do. Perhaps that person saw an ad or stumbled from the Explore page and are curious to know more. A saved story is also a great opportunity to introduce any branded hashtags you may have. Having a consistent hashtag is one way to make sure that you are able to see any user-generated content relevant to your company.
How-Tos via Stories
Instagram Stories and saved Stories are also a great place to do product tutorials. You can provide an up-close look at the packaging, colors, versions, and sizes of the product, and demonstrate how to use it in a step-by-step guide.
Glossier‘s tutorial on how to use its cloud paint blush also serves as an introduction to the product and a link to purchase. The tutorial is more informative than a simple product photo because it shows how the blush looks on skin and the differences between the various shades.
Behind The Scenes Videos
Behind the scenes videos are a great way to show off your brand’s personality, your amazing team members, and the process that makes your products unique.
Lush Cosmetics, which is known for its trendy and colorful bath bombs, created this BTS video just in time for Easter about their Golden Egg bath bombs. They provide details about product sources and show just how much glitter goes into each egg, reassuring the viewer of the quality of each item.
Stories is also a great place to host a Q&A with customers, brand ambassadors, team members, topical experts, or your CEO. Apartment Therapy regularly hosts Q&As with interior designers.
Instagram Idea #2: Account Takeovers
Not too different from the Q&A, you can let someone take over your Instagram account for the day for a refreshing change in perspective. Hand the reins over to an individual who will represent your brand well while still providing an authentic glimpse into their interests and lifestyle.
When you partner with an external influencer for an account takeover, the partnership can result in a mutually beneficial source of exposure. When you let an employee take over the account, you can show the world your pride in their work and the way they represent your company culture and values.
Sweetgreen partners with influencers in the fitness industry to promote their salads as part of the overall health and wellness trend – and stay in touch with their millennial audience.
By doing account takeovers on certain days or having a theme (with a hashtag of course!), you can create a regularly scheduled series that is easy to execute over and over again.
Instagram Idea #3: Experiment with Text
Captions are essential for most forms of social video nowadays since people often watch with no sound.
For caption text, Instagram Stories has several fonts to choose from, but you can also design your own text or use a template with text fields included.
REI uses a form template to do its weekly roundup of blog posts. The cover image is repeated to overlay new text each time, creating a fun experience for the user to tap through to discover what’s next and swipe up if they see something interesting.
The branded caption template makes it really easy for the company to produce fantastic-looking slideshows week after week.
Instagram Idea #4: Add Basic Design
Design not only looks good but helps establish branded consistency across your social posts. When you incorporate thoughtful design, your content will be recognizable as your own.
“Design” is a vague term encompassing many different parts of the video production, editing, and publishing process. A few of the tactics in this article fall under the design umbrella, including text overlays, slideshows, and stop-motion animation. In the context of social video, successful design is a combination of visual and aesthetic adjustments you make to create more distinct content. Here are a few examples of design techniques you can use for your next Instagram video:
- Colors: Create a color palette or include the same color in every photo.
- Illustration: Break up all the photos with simple drawings.
- Title cards: Add cards with text between scenes to emphasize a message.
- Filters: Use the same 1-2 filters for a satisfying appearance.
- Typography: Express your brand personality with fonts that represent you.
- Animation: Speed up the action with time-lapse, stop motion, and motion graphics.
A recent video by Skillshare includes almost all of the above to celebrate surpassing 200K followers. The bright colors of the cover photo are alluring, and the time-lapse of the artist’s technique actually teaches you something new. Through design, they’ve managed to validate their current success, promote the work of the artist, and show off Skillshare itself.
Skillshare’s video is a great example of how video plus design can accomplish multiple goals at once.
Instagram Idea #5: Make a Video Slideshow
The beauty about slideshows is that you don’t need any video footage at all. So if you’re intimidated at all about getting into filming but you know your way around PowerPoint, just grab a few photos and a slideshow template and get going.
Slideshows are great for:
- Step-by-step instructions
- Top 5 or Top 10 lists
The #ChevyTrucks through the years video is the most simple of slideshows – no text, no effects – yet it tells a powerful story of a legacy brand. If your company has a transformation journey or even just a site redesign to show off, you can utilize this format to add emotion to a series of photos.
Instagram Idea #6: Try a Simple Boomerang
A few years ago, Instagram released Boomerang, an app that’s also built into the Instagram camera that creates short, auto-looping videos.
Boomerangs are great for saying: “Wish you were here.”
Businesses can experiment with Boomerang to set objects in motion, introduce people, demonstrate a skill or technique, or even to isolate a single feature of a product.
Mumm Napa Winery uses a short looping video to show the proper way to open a bottle of sparkling wine. The video not only demonstrates the technique but sets a lighthearted, celebratory mood that would be harder to create with a still photo or a longer video.
Instagram Idea #7: Countdown to a Release (Create Your Own Hashtag)
You get excited about new product developments and anticipate launch dates – so why not get your friends and followers involved and excited, too?
Gymshark, a new fitness apparel company that does most of its marketing through its Instagram influencer program, has mastered the buildup to its product releases. Whenever a new line of shirts, shorts, leggings, or sweatshirts gets released, the collection often gets sold out immediately because the company and its popular representatives hint at what’s to come for several days beforehand in posts and Stories.
You, too, can drum up anticipation to a product release with countdown video. The key to this is not to do it too early or to only do it once – it helps to repeat the message so that people will be reminded as the date nears.
You might also want to consider buying ad space either in stories or in the Instagram timeline to create maximum exposure for your new and improved product.
You don’t have to spell out the surprise, but you can use title cards to get the point across. Include important dates and phrases like “We’ve got something to show you” to make the video clear and the message instant.
Instagram Idea #8: Customer and Employee Interviews
When you feature your customers and your employees in interviews, you build a sense of community and belonging. It’s always compelling when a person opens up to the camera and tells a piece of their life story. An interview video can show the path of how a person got to where they are now and provide inspiration for others to do the same.
Fitness studio Barry’s Bootcamp started the #BarrysStories campaign to spread inspirational stories from their customers and raise money for causes they care about.
Shown in action at the Barry’s studio, these customers tell their stories and what motivates them. Their trials and hardships make them relatable to those who are thinking about going to the gym for the first time.
Instagram Idea #9: Music Video Magic
While it’s true that silent video is on the rise, you can never replace a standout soundtrack. Music is an economical way to express your brand personality. Since music conjures instant emotion, no text or lengthy narrative is required.
Music completes your video by complementing or contrasting the pace of motion onscreen. Surf brand Rip Curl has no shortage of footage featuring amazing athletes, huge waves, and crowds of fans – not to mention crisp blue waves. But to really set the mood, they need music.
To promote an upcoming surf contest, Rip Curl built a montage with a fast-paced rock and roll soundtrack that adds a celebratory atmosphere to fuel fans’ excitement.
Picking the right soundtrack can be one of the toughest decisions a video editor makes. In Shakr, you can search for soundtracks by energy, or upload your own tunes.
Instagram Idea #10: Stop Motion Video
Stop motion is a playful, quick way to tell a story. Unlike time-lapse, stop-motion actually speeds up time by stitching several still images together to mimic movement.
HARIBO USA makes all your candy dreams come true by transforming a single gummy bear into dozens through the magic of stop-motion. If you look at the brand’s Instagram feed, you’ll notice that the iconic gummy bear is often the focal point of HARIBO content as the company’s most recognizable symbol and its mascot.
Like Chevy above, HARIBO needs ways to promote innovation and keep its brand modern and youthful to bring in new customers. Creative animation set in a bright, primary-color palette helps keep things fresh.
Instagram Idea #11: Follow What’s Trending
Some social media trends are easy to plan for because they follow the calendar, year after year. #NationalDonutDay, Halloween, etc., are recurring trends. Spontaneous, niche trends also spring up and die down. Both types of trends allow you to flex your creativity with video.
Think about trends strategically. On a day like Christmas, when everyone posts content to social media, it may be harder to catch viewers’ eyes. But when you pay attention to the trends that matter most to your customers, you’ll find a greater opportunity.
If a trend fits your brand and you can create authentic, high-quality content that adds to the conversation, you may be able to reach a new audience or even go viral.
An example of a trend that has tremendous sticking power is #slime videos, with over 7.8 million posts on Instagram. The combination of satisfying, ASMR sounds and DIY crafting make slime videos incredibly watchable.
Crafts store Michaels made an Instagram timeline tutorial on Easter slime and released it a few days before the holiday. The video is a nice cross-section of interests for Michaels fans – between the #DIY tag, the slime trend, and the cute gifts, this content is pitch-perfect for their audience.
Instagram Idea #12: Competitions and Giveaways
Competitions and giveaways can be a great way to spread the word about your brand and Instagram account. Run a challenge for your target audience to do something and post it with your #hashtag.
Hashtags can help you find communities, build communities, and establish a brand identity. But they can also be used for time-sensitive giveaways and competitions.
You can set up a competition using a hashtag in three easy steps:
- Create the hashtag.
- In posts, stories, and ads, ask followers to post using the tag.
- Search for your tag and swipe through the entrants to find a winner.
UK-based sleep brand eve posted a contest asking people to “share a photo showing how much you love mornings” using the hashtag #lovemorningswitheve and tagging @evesleep. The prize? A two-night stay at a posh London hotel.
The contest generated 256 beautiful user-made posts that are now linked to the eve brand, with minimal work from the eve team. It also exposed eve to their followers’ followers, who might not have been familiar with eve’s products before.
You don’t have to give away a vacation; any free item will have a positive impact. Try starting small with a free sample of your products or partnering up with a vendor you know to give out a limited number of goodies.
Instagram Idea #13: Use Your Face
If you’re not featuring faces in company Instagram videos, then you’re missing a big opportunity for engagement. Our brains are programmed to seek out faces, and research has proven we remember faces better than other visuals.
Faces can also convey a lot more information than a scenery or product shot. It’s easier to pick up on emotional and social cues from people, and faces are inherently easier to trust than even the cutest stop-motion video.
It helps to have a single recognizable face that viewers can associate with your company (think Richard Branson, Flo from Progressive, or the Verizon-now-Sprint guy, Paul Marcarelli). A familiar face is reliable, helping people to connect to your brand over time.
In 2018, the old-fashioned spokesperson is out of style, and company transparency is in. Why not save some money and show off your wonderful team? It will do the double work of advertising your product and attracting new hires.
BambooHR, a software company in Utah that helps companies manage human resources, makes lots of videos showcasing their company culture. This helps with the recruitment process while also showing how they live out their products’ values.
Instagram Idea #14: Exclusive Sales and Offers
The people who follow your company on Instagram are not only dedicated customers, they’re personal fans of yours. You’ll reward these loyal fans and attract more followers when you offer something exclusive.
You can create Instagram-exclusive content, or give followers early access to sales or new releases. Create a hashtag to make the event seem more like a fun club that people want to be a part of. Run some promo videos on your Instagram stories and watch the anticipation build.
Instagram also has some built-in features to get followers to your site. Like Etsy, you can take advantage of the “Swipe up” link feature on Stories to link to sale content, if you have 10K followers or more.
Instagram Idea #15: Use External Tools to Create Cool Videos
There is no shortage of video editing apps to help take your Instagram video to the next level. As we mentioned earlier, there’s Boomerang for looping; Overvideo is great for captions; and Cute CUT is made specifically for Instagram stories. Of course, you can also always use Shakr to make awesome videos to share across your social platforms and website. Get creative and do something that catches the eye!
The takeaway: build a strategy around engagement
As you experiment with Instagram ads, timeline videos, and stories, don’t forget that your number-one priority is to engage with your audience. A loyal following takes time and trust. The coolest, most polished video won’t work if it’s all about self-promotion. If you can create content for the sake of entertaining or informing your audience that touches on topics they care about, then you’re already winning.