Instagram certainly rocked the social marketing boat these last couple of weeks with their announcement that your feed will soon be curated by an algorithm instead of by which accounts you follow and when they upload. Suddenly, everyone was drowning in requests to "turn on notifications if you still want to see my posts", which mostly resulted in an unpleasant barrage of notifications on your phone. In the panic,Instagram cautioned everyone to calm down, that testing phase isn't over yet, and an official rollout won't happen for months.
But on the heels of that announcement came Instagram's video play. Previously, their videos for regular users were limited to 15 seconds. Now, a wide rollout is planned for 60-second videos. Why the big jump? Well, people are watching a whole lot more video, for one. Engadget reports that the number of people watching video on Instagram jumped 40% in the last six months.
Looking to video as the future of social platforms has been a prediction of the past couple years, and Instagram's major leap towards video content is not a big surprise. With video-centric Snapchat usage on the rise - 100 million daily active users and counting - it makes sense that Instagram would want to compete by supporting longer video snippets. Everyone's watching more videos everywhere, and the amount streamed is only likely to get higher.
This means big and exciting things for social marketing; because of this new accessibility, we are all now challenged to create more creative and engaging video content.
When the 60-second video option is rolled out for your brand's account, you content options will soar. With that in mind, I've put together a few guidelines for Instagram video, plus a few content ideas.
Instagram Video Tips
Invest in editing apps. It's not as difficult as it seems to create good-looking Instagram videos. There are tons of free apps out there - some better than others - to help you get the right color balance, transitions, music, and more. In a land of scrolling - even algorithmically-defined scrolling - a well-edited video makes a difference.
A few apps that I recommend for your editing arsenal: Try Squaready to make your videos square with a white background or all around border for an artsy look. InstaVid creates those picture and video collages that you might have seen popping up lately - not to be confused with InstaVideo, which will help you add music to your videos. Boomerang and Hyperlapse will help you create sped-up or looped videos. YouTube Capture will help you grab a YouTube clip of yours for Instagram.
Be consistent in content. No one likes to see a brand adopt a trend in a half-hearted way. Make a time commitment to try out your Instagram video strategy, and evaluate at the end of that period. Better yet, start a regular Instagram video series, so that you're responsible for content, say, every other week. You may not be able to outsmart the algorithm at first, but you can continuously show up with good content, and that always pays off in the long term.
Be consistent in aesthetics. Test out aesthetic ideas before you post them, and once you decide on design preferences, stick to them. It helps you create higher quality content, and it helps your audience know what to expect. Eventually, when they see a clip of an Instagram video, they should be able to recognize it as your brand's right away. That comes from consistent content and consistent design. Play with the editing apps above, and land on a color scheme, sound concept, and content voice.
A Few Ideas for Original Instagram Video Content
Go behind the scenes. Everyone loves content that gives an exclusive sneak peak, and if you have something to share, share it on video. Showcase the people who work for you in a regular spotlight series. The Nashville Symphony often uses video to showcase their orchestra members or guest soloists. While you might not have symphonic talent, you probably have in-house experts who have interesting ideas and experiences to share - interview them, or regularly ask them the same question (for example: How did you get this job? Why did you become interested in this field of work?)
Another way to go behind the scenes is to explore different areas of your office or field work where things are done. If you're printing something massive, give a brief tour of the printing factory. If your design team is working hard on a website, make a short video showing their creative process.
A video posted by Nashville Symphony (@nashvillesymphony) on Mar 3, 2016 at 12:09pm PST
Tease your longer content. If you've already made longer videos, use an extra app to clip it for Instagram. This kind of re-purposing can lead to more hits on the video on its original platform, or it can simply keep your audience coming back to your Instagram for more bite-sized video content. For example, NPR's clip of a longer documentary about punk musician James Alex is certainly enticing enough to lead people to click on the link in their bio for more.
In a short documentary, @beachslang frontman James Alex shares his hopes for fatherhood and what punk has done for him: "With Beach Slang, I'm feeding back into this thing that was so good to me." Follow our profile link for the full video. (Credit: @nprmusic) #documentary #punk
A video posted by NPR (@npr) on Apr 5, 2016 at 11:41am PDT
Get educational. Valuable, shareable content has something to teach, and nonprofits always have information to give. Evaluate the expertise you have, and release snackable videos that educate as well as delight. Think in terms of tutorials or tips - how can someone be better at recycling? How can they become more aware of mental health issues in their community? Or think about tidbits that might move them to take action. What do you want them to learn about and what will they do with that knowledge? This video from Greenpeace's Instagram account is simple and straightforward, but it uses the power of video to educate its audience about the prevalence of shark finning. The caption briefly describes the issue and ends in a call-to-action.
GRAPHIC CONTENT. Even though shark finning is banned in the Pacific, it still occurs on some tuna boats when sharks are pulled in as bycatch. Employees are encouraged to fin sharks as a way to subsidize their already inadequate pay. Major tuna companies claim they don't support shark finning; however, very little is done to stop it. As long as workers are abused and exploited, shark finning will continue. The destruction of marine life and violation of human rights are important issues that many in the tuna industry are overlooking. This needs to be addressed NOW - take action by clicking the link in our bio! #NotJustTuna #Sharks #SharkFinning #HumanRights #SaveOurOceans #Sustainability #Greenpeace
A video posted by Greenpeace USA (@greenpeaceusa) on Oct 23, 2015 at 10:58am PDT
As more and more platforms embrace digital video content, the playing field for marketers gets more exciting. Video is an opportunity for greater transparency and authenticity, as well as a chance to up your creative game. This latest Instagram development heralds good things to come.