From 15 to 60: Instagram Expands Videos

Instagram has had a big month. In addition to announcing an upcoming algorithm, the social network also opened up its video rules. Since Instagram video first debuted in June 2013, users have been held to a 15 second maximum video length. In 2015, Instagram expanded the 15 second format to 60 seconds for brands running video ads on the platform. Now, 60 second videos are available to all. Upon first hearing this news, users may have rejoiced at the notion of sharing longer snippets of content. With an extra 45 seconds at their disposals, the storytelling possibilities seem endless. But, as is the case with so many facets of digital marketing, more does not always equal better.

Mark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Every writer, as well as every videographer, can relate to the truth of this quote. It’s not difficult to create content that fills up time, but it is difficult to create content that speaks to audiences in a short span of time. With a 15 second limitation, Instagram users were forced to learn the art of video storytelling under extreme constraints. Every second in a 15 second video has to count — there is no time for wasted…well, time. Now, however, there is room to add in content for the sake of filling up 60 seconds. While one minute may not seem long in the grand scheme of media, on an Instagram feed, 60 seconds is an eternity. Instagram users spend their time on the platform scrolling their feeds, spending just a few moments taking in the image and caption of one post before moving on to the next. Because of Instagram’s highly visual nature, a few seconds is all Instagram users really need to determine if a post is worthy of their attention or engagement. An extended length of time for content creators to play with will not necessarily alter an audience’s immediate reaction to a video post.

Make the First Seconds Count:
First impressions matter. If your audience is not drawn into your video content within the first 5-10 seconds, they will have no reason to continue watching your video through to the last second. 60 seconds gives you the opportunity to tell a fuller story, but creating compelling moments within those first few frames is the only way to ensure that the fully story is seen and understood. Don’t wait until the 25 second mark to dive into the real theme of the video. Every second in an Instagram video counts, but the first few seconds are the ones that will make or break your engagement.

Create Platform-Specific Videos:
With an increased time limit, it may be tempting to simply repurpose videos that were originally created for YouTube and Facebook.  Each platform has its own strengths. What works on Facebook and YouTube, may not necessarily resonate on Instagram. Instagram users log into their accounts in search of quick hits of inspiration and entertainment. The nature of YouTube, specifically, lends itself to longer storytelling opportunities. However, you cannot tell the exact same story in a minute-long Instagram video that you can in a three-minute long YouTube video, so don’t try. Additionally, telling cohesive, but separate stories across each platform will entice users to engage on each of your accounts. If you repurpose the same video over and over again, audiences will have no reason for following each of your distinct social accounts. Create video content that supports the strengths and constraints of each unique platform.

Diversify Your Videos:
Instagram enacted this update because they recognized that more of their users were watching and engaging videos. In the last six months alone, Instagram video views increased by 40%.  However, if you create the same types of videos day in and day out, your audience will quickly become bored with your feed. Producing and publishing a mix of influencer interviews, product launch trailers and behind-the-scenes glimpses is an effective strategy to enticing your audience to come back for more.

Incredible stories can unfold in 60 seconds and we can’t wait to see what you create.

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