Instagram now has more than 700 million users—200 million of whom engage with videos every day via Instagram Stories. For video publishers that means there’s a good chance your audience is active on Instagram.
Below are some tips that can easily improve any brand’s Instagram video efforts and increase organic reach. Also, check out these articles for help with or live streaming on Instagram.
Decide on the Brand Story
A common mistake many brands make is creating accounts across every trendy social medial platform. At our agency, we have way too many conversations with clients about the importance of not diluting their brand.
For starters, ask yourself these questions: Do we have the resources to commit to this channel? Is our audience using it? What does the company need to get out of this? Can Instagram bring value to our customers?
Instagram has gone through many changes since its launch, but at its heart it is a storytelling platform.
Brands should think in a visual mindset. Nike’s Instagram serves as great visual inspiration. The company uses a combination of photos and videos across its channel to highlight athletes and products.
Of course, not every brand has access to celebrities or athletes like Nike, but you can take a page from its visual aesthetic to tell your own brand story.
On a smaller scale, check out the page from Instagram marketer Sacasamedia.
Rather than using product images, it implements a number of branded visuals with positive quotes and aspirations. Almost every other post is a quote, which provides a nice balance of mixed media. The same strategy can be used across your company’s channel.
Both of these brands are consistent with their visuals and the filters they use. These choices are also consistent among their other brand channels.
Oftentimes, Instagram users get overly excited about filters, so pick one or two and use them consistently. This helps improve the channel’s visual design and layout.
Having a strong channel design aesthetic will help the brand’s page stand out from others. It’s not too late to start this with an existing channel, either.
Optimize the Entire Channel
A second common mistake brands make on Instagram is failing to fully use the platform. Here are some things to note.
Don’t ignore Instagram’s square aspect ratio. Users have become much better with cropping their photos, but it’s amazing how many brands do not crop and reframe their video content.
In a nutshell, the majority of high-end cameras used by production companies are made for widescreen viewing. Simply taking a video made for television, a website, or even YouTube and uploading it straight to Instagram ruins the consumer viewing experience.
Think about the composition and story you’re going to tell with each video or photo. This means taking extra time to edit a version specifically for Instagram’s 1×1 square ratio.
Keep in mind that while Instagram is a visual channel, the audience’s attention span is brief. From our experience, 15 to 30 seconds is an ideal length for an Instagram video.
Think of it as teaser content. One approach we take is repurposing the content we make for other online video channels and creating movie-style trailers for Instagram. We keep the videos quick and visual.
We make sure to pick a compelling cover photo that users will see before pressing play. Choose something deliberate rather than using a black frame or a default thumbnail selected by Instagram.
Here’s an example of an Instagram video we created for a hospitality brand.
Another simple but effective improvement brands can make is staying current with their bio links in page profiles. Here, you can promote a landing page or another channel as a direct clickable call-to-action.
This is a great way to drive Instagram users to the next place in the content journey. Keep these links updated so they align with other marketing efforts. We like to use bit.ly or other URL shortening links that provide metrics for clicks and users.
Finally, hashtags might be some of the most underrated tools on Instagram. There are plenty of articles where marketers can learn about hashtags. At the very least, use them in the comments section of posts.
People search with hashtags, so a strong knowledge of industry buzzwords is crucial for this process. It’s also a great way for you to see what other type of related content is out there and gather ideas for refining your brand’s Instagram strategy.
As someone who’s familiar with professional video production, you’re aware that a good portion of the footage captured does not end up making the final cut. Rather than letting this extra footage or B-roll go to waste, get creative and use it as Instagram content.
The videos can be short and snackable, which works well on Instagram. We recently took this approach with the Sanctuary Camelback Resort and Spa.
During production, we captured a time-lapse of the resort property that was needed in a longer video. In addition to that longer video, the property used the standalone time-lapse as a post on Instagram.
Think about how footage can be used on Instagram before your next production. Look at ways to promote the video production itself with behind-the-scenes photos and videos. This makes great content for Instagram Live and Stories.
All of these tools are expert ways to use Instagram to tell your brand story and connect with your audience. Always keep it visual and stay authentic to your brand.