If you’re seriously considering upping your video marketing strategy, then you’ll definitely want to branch out of YouTube and into Instagram. What seemed like an interesting alternative a couple of years ago is now a mandatory place to be for any company worth its salt. In short, you have to be on Instagram if you want to make a splash.
Of course, you won’t have it easy. It seems as if every other company in the world is already on there, so you’ll have to swing for a home run with every video. And with that, I’m not saying you should close your eyes and blindy try to hit it big – I’m telling you that you should keep your eyes open and aim for the opportunities ahead of you.
How do you do that? By paying attention to these tips when creating Instagram videos.
What video types work best?
I’m sure you’ve seen all kinds of videos on Instagram, from small vignettes to funny ads. Yet, that doesn’t mean they all are great for what you’re looking for (to get more leads, close more sales, encourage client loyalty and so on). You have to find out which of all the available options are the best for you.
You’re not entirely on your own though. There are certain video types that have proven to be great for brands of many different industries. Here they are:
● Explainer videos: you can use a short, engaging and funny clip to explain who you are and what you can do for your customers. Explainer videos are short by design, so Instagram is a fertile ground for them to grow (especially if they are animated videos, always so colorful and eye-catching)
● Company story videos: humanizing your brand should be among your top priorities. Putting a human face to the company helps people engage and establish a better rapport. Instagram is fantastic for this, as you can drop snippets of your brand every day to make your audience a part of who you are.
● How-to videos: if you want to provide your audience with something of value (and, believe me, you want to do that), then nothing can beat a great how-to video. With them you can show how to solve a common problem or how to do something they don’t know. People go nuts for these videos and you can use them to put your products in the spotlight.
● Commercials: well-done ads work on any platform you can think of and Instagram is no exception. Given the light-hearted spirit of the platform, you should always stick with a relaxed and funny vibe for your commercials. In fact, you should create little ads that are a part of a bigger campaign and that complement the concept you are pushing on a wider level.
There’s more than just duration – but duration matters a lot
If you’ve ever created videos for the Web, then you definitely know about one of the biggest doubts when creating them: how long should they be? Given the insane disparities in the duration of online videos, it’s important to think about it from the only standpoint worth exploring – what audiences like.
And Instagram audiences love short, snappy videos under 30 seconds. Perhaps you think half a minute isn’t enough and you might feel tempted to go over that limit to truly drive the point home. Don’t. Instagram audiences are accustomed to checking their feeds in quick glances and at high-speed scrolls. A video that makes them stay static for too long is doomed to fail, simply because people will drop out way before it’s over.
The takeaway is simple – focus on one idea and one idea alone, say it in the simplest of terms and wrap it up. Don’t fall for the capital sin of our digital times – don’t be boring.
Filming, editing and all that jazz
You can have the greatest idea of all and yet fail to wow the Instagram masses. That’s because creativity on paper isn’t enough. The concept you think for your Instagram videos has to jump from the page and dance around on people’s screens. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you have to be engaging. And to do that, you should rely on the filming and editing possibilities at hand.
That means, first and foremost, that you have to develop a unique voice (which, in turn, means you have to develop your own aesthetic to stand out from the crowd). There are several things you can do to achieve this. Using different camera angles, applying a few filters, adding certain stickers, playing with music and setting your own editing rhythm are some of the tasks you should be pursuing.
It’s highly important for you to analyze your target audience first to get a sense of what they like and what kind of visual language they enjoy. That way, you can later incorporate those elements into your stories. This doesn’t mean you have to mimic what you see. It’s just a matter of using what works for others by infusing those elements into your own discourse.
Obviously, there’s more than that. Using captions will certainly be useful, as you can spark the audience’s curiosity without revealing too much. You can also use other apps to edit your videos and play around with their pace. Creating time-lapses, slow motion videos or animations will certainly help you create different stories and different variants of your voice.
There are 2 more things to keep in mind here. First, that you don’t need special equipment or spectacular gear to shoot videos for Instagram. If you take a look around the platform, you’ll see that some of the most popular videos were shot with a regular smartphone. Pay attention to that seemingly small detail. People are already accustomed to seeing videos in a more “homemade” style and they are welcoming them, as long as they feel fresh.
The second thing is that the process of creating Instagram videos is a non-stop evolution towards perfection. That means you’ll have to constantly watch and analyze whether your videos are working as you want them to or not. Check the metrics, see their reach but most importantly – pay attention to how people react! Their feedback is probably the most important thing you’ll get and can adjust things for future videos.
Optimizing videos for bigger reach
There’s no better performing video than one that’s fresh, follows a clever concept and is entertaining. However, all videos (even the most perfect ones) can use a little help to get to a wider audience. There are some general things you can do ensure you get better reach and engagement, such as:
- Use (but don’t abuse) relevant hashtags: you’ve probably seen it more than just once – people love to flood their captions with hashtags. And while I understand the motivation behind it (multiply the chances of being found by the targeted audience), the mere sight of it puts me off. It’s not just me, either. Many people hate that kind of practice, so you’d better pick a couple of hashtags and use just those. You’ll be able to track them more precisely and your videos will find their audience nonetheless.
- Strike first: autoplay is there and most people aren’t bothered by it. So, take advantage of it by using a powerful hook right at the start from your video. It can be an unusual shot, an unexpected occurrence or something flashy. Just be sure it’s eye-catching enough for people to stop scrolling. If the content following that strong start is good enough, people will feel compelled to share and your reach will grow.
- Think of a video that works with the sound off: people are watching more and more videos with each passing day but what’s more amazing is that many are doing it with the sound completely muted. Be it because they can’t be bothered to listen or just because they don’t care, that’s a phenomenon you should take into account. Prepare your videos so they are as enjoyable without sound as they are without them. People that watch muted videos will also have the possibility to enjoy them, and your potential for engagement will grow.
- Think of the perfection caption: a caption is like the title of a book. A vague one won’t be compelling enough for people to watch. One that is too-specific will make a lot of people dismiss it maybe because they feel like they already know what it’s all about. The right caption is the one that speaks about the video’s content but it compels to play nonetheless.
- Use different marketing strategies: offer quick looks to new products, share the behind-the-scenes video of the preparation of an event, make people comment on your video to enter a contest… The possibilities are endless and people love to feel like a part of what your brand is doing, so make sure you do that. Don’t preach, don’t get too serious, don’t force anything. Just show yourself and your community will grow.
Timeline videos or Stories?
Finally, there’s a doubt that many newbies face when dealing with Instagram videos: should they post their videos on their brands’ timelines or use Instagram’s Stories? The answer is fairly obvious – you should use both.
Depending on what your goals are, you’ll be using the videos on your Timeline or posting them as Stories. Timeline videos (AKA videos you post on your brand’s page and stay there) are perfect to showcase products and services, teach how to use them or even share your newest commercial. Timeline videos are there to build your brand and expand on the notion of what you’re capable of offering to your customers.
Stories, on the other hand, are a more volatile kind of content. Since Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours, they have a sense of urgency that Timeline videos are lacking. That “watch it now or never” vibe infusing all Stories are the perfect fit for exclusive time-limited offers, sneak peeks into upcoming products or events, teasers about your newest service and any other content you can think of that will only make sense in the here and now.
With that difference already explained, do you feel like you could survive without one or the other? Maybe. But a solid video strategy on Instagram includes the best of both worlds. I’m sure your brand has different needs depending on the objectives and Timeline videos and Stories both serve different purposes with equally great results.
So, the bottom line is that you shouldn’t dismiss any of them. Just consider which one will serve your goals better before creating the video and then shoot it with the particulars of the video type in mind.
Instagram is undeniably a fantastic tool to market videos. Instagram users love informal videos that feel more human and your brand can certainly benefit from that. As long as you remember that you need videos to be natural, feel fresh and be short, your chances at getting to your target audience are huge.
Of course, don’t neglect the metrics you can get from the platform, as they are indicators of things to improve upon. Constant adjustment and evolving concepts are what you need if you want to succeed in a platform as dynamic and unique as Instagram. Be sure to keep that in mind and you’ll see that you won’t only just make a splash – you’ll make huge waves.