Is it better to post Reels or IGTV? Are Reels and IGTV the same? What about Stories?
These are just three common questions that brands have when it comes to Instagram video types.
The reality is, Instagram is constantly changing its algorithm based on the way people engage with content. So you need to be on top of the latest trends and changes to stay relevant on the platform.
One thing’s for sure; if you’re not creating some form of video content for Instagram, your engagement levels will be next to non-existent. It’s a crazy thought, given the social network started with purely static images.
If you’re unsure whether you should use Reels, IGTV, or Stories to publish video content on Instagram – or what the difference is – this article will answer your questions.
Let’s start by defining each of these Instagram video content types:
IGTV is home to longer, high-quality edited videos. You can upload a video of up to 60 minutes in length if you use the web uploader.
People often compare IGTV with YouTube because it’s a place for users to discover content that covers a topic in detail – such as how-tos or educational videos.
Of course, there are several differences between IGTV and YouTube. For one, all IGTV videos are vertical – like a selfie. Whereas YouTube is horizontal, like a movie. YouTube is also more of a search engine than IGTV. The way users find content on YouTube is similar to Google – they’re searching for information and may follow a path to other videos. With IGTV, the discovery process is less linear.
A fundamental difference between IGTV videos and Reels or Stories is their lack of discoverability on Instagram. There is actually an IGTV app for exploring all IGTV content creators and brands – but when you’re scrolling through Instagram itself, the only easy way to find IGTV content is to go directly to someone’s profile.
IGTV on the Starbucks Instagram profile
Reels are Instagram’s answer to TikTok videos. Their fundamental purpose is to be entertaining, which is why they’re limited to 15 seconds in length.
One cool feature of Instagram Reels is the built-in editing functionality. You can slow down (or speed up) your clip, add filters, mix in audio, include a voiceover, patch on music, and more.
Reels are also far more discoverable on Instagram than IGTV. While they don’t have the front-and-center prominence of Stories at the top of the Instagram app – more on that in a moment – they are regularly featured in the Discover section. There is even a Reels tab on the primary navigation of the app.
The Reels tab on the Instagram app
While Reels had a slow start, since focusing on the way users engage with them, Instagram has struck a winner. As you can see in the above example, the engagement levels on Reels can be significant – this one has 542 comments and over 20,000 likes.
The Stories feature on Instagram is more akin to Snapchat if you want to make comparisons. Stories aren’t exclusively videos; they can also be static images, text, or other animated content.
One thing to note about Stories is that they are far more interactive than IGTV or Reels. Yes, you can like and comment on Reels and IGTV videos, but Stories allow you to create polls, use timers, embed posts, or get on-the-run feedback from your audience. You can even go live with Stories in a similar way that you would with Facebook Live.
Also, out of all three types of video, Stories are by far the most discoverable. While Reels are given their own tab in the Instagram app and featured in searches, Stories are bang in the middle of the screen at the top when you open Instagram. They’re impossible to miss.
Where Stories are visible on the Instagram app
When should you use IGTV vs. Reels vs. Stories?
You might be wondering when it’s appropriate to use each form of video content discussed above. Should you focus on one exclusively or mix up your strategy? Is one better than the others for specific brands?
The answer is, well, complicated. It all depends on the business, the brand you want to build, how you interact with your customers, and your available resources. Consider some of these factors when making your decision:
- As with any marketing content, you should run tests before making assumptions. In this instance, you could try out all three video types and see how they perform with your audience before determining how you allocate resources.
- IGTV is typically the best alternative for educational content because you have 60 minutes of video to work with.
- Reels have a longer lifespan than Stories and IGTV – they could be picked up by the Instagram algorithm at any point, making them more likely to be found by new prospects.
- Stories have significant prominence in the Instagram app for your followers and allow you to include links to external websites. Also, you can pay to promote Stories and feature them as Highlights at the top of your profile – two things that aren’t possible with Reels.
If you have the resources, I’d recommend using a combination of all three types of video content. People use Instagram in different ways and have varying preferences for the kind of content they like to engage with. If you want to double down on one style, be sure to test them all out to make sure you are betting on the right horse.
What are some examples of brands using video well on Instagram?
Lululemon on Instagram
Lululemon leverages the IGTV feature better than many brands. They feature long-form videos with influencers and partners that support meaningful causes or share workouts with their audience.
Apple on Instagram
Apple is one brand that has a great Reels strategy. They share a combination of helpful content about their products as well as on-brand inspirational videos.
Expedia on Instagram
Expedia is a worthy example of a brand using Stories effectively. All their Stories are branded, engaging, and categorized based on the interests of their audience. They also utilize the Highlights feature on their profile to extend the life of each Story.
Instagram has changed a lot in the last few years, and brands that don’t keep up with the trends are falling behind.
The truth is, Instagram is always trying to adapt the way users share and interact with content to keep people on their platform for longer so they can increase ad revenue. IGTV, Stories, and Reels are all adaptations of other successful social media platforms – a way for Instagram to be the number one place for people to scroll.
Inevitably, there will be new forms of video content released on Instagram in the future. But for now, consider how your audience consumes content, analyze the resources you have available for creating videos, and choose a mix of Reels, IGTV, and Stories that suits your brand.