The Complete Guide to Using Video On Instagram

Learn how to boost your Instagram engagement with videos. Discover the different video formats and types that work best.

By Mitt Ray ・5 min read
Best Practices
Social Media

Instagram is becoming more and more competitive. There are now over a billion users now and engagement levels are on the decline. If you want to beat out your competition and rank higher in your Instagram followers’ feed and on the explore page, you need to do something different that will help you stand out.And the answer to that is video. Videos get 21.2% more interactions than image posts and 18.6% more interactions than carousel posts, but only 16.7% of Instagram posts are video posts.

Instagram videos get more interactions than imagesSo, if you’re looking for ways to boost your Instagram engagement with video, check out my complete guide to using video on Instagram.

The different video formats on Instagram

There are three ways in which you can publish videos on Instagram.

Feed posts

Feed posts are regular Instagram posts that appear in the newsfeed and on your account page. You can publish video posts like you publish an image post.These videos need to be less than a minute long and have a minimum width of 500 pixels.This video from Barnes and Noble is an example of how they’re using video to promote a discount on some of their books.

Create video posts for your feedPromotional content like this can help drive sales on Instagram, but if you want more engagement you will also need to publish free and useful content.

Instagram story videos

Instagram story videos are just like any story post. They can be seen at the top of the feed or profile page and remain live for only 24 hours (unless you highlight them).They can only be 15 seconds long but you can create a longer video and divide and publish it as a series of stories.Instagram recommends that you use taller videos that are 1080x1920 pixels. So, avoid using the same videos you use in your feed posts.You can also share links in your Instagram stories if you have more than 10,000 followers.Here’s an example story from Serious Eats. As you can see, they created a simple cooking video in a portrait format and then published it in a series of stories.

Use an Instagram story videos to drive trafficYou can watch the video on Instagram, but if you want to read the recipe, you can click on the ‘See More’ call to action to view it on their blog.This can be a great way to drive traffic to your website.

IGTV Videos

If you want to share videos that are up to an hour long, you can use Instagram’s other social network, IGTV. Encourage viewers to watch a longer video on IGTV by sharing a one-minute teaser of it on Instagram.IGTV is a great place to get started if you’re looking to get more traction for your videos. Since it is a relatively new network, competition is low and reach is high.You can also share clickable links in your IGTV video descriptions. So, if you have less than 10,000 followers and still want to share links, use IGTV more often.Here’s an example of Nordstrom using links to drive traffic. Nordstrom interviews Carolina Herrera’s creative director and shares a link that takes you to a page on Nordstrom’s website that lists products from Carolina Herrera.

Share videos and links on IGTV

4 types of videos that work on Instagram

Free useful content

Free useful or entertaining content will drive the most engagement on Instagram just like on any other social network. People like to watch these videos and share them with their followers. So, think about your audience and what type of content they like watching and brainstorm some quality Instagram post ideas. Then record and publish them on your account.Offering tips or ideas is a simple way to share your content. You can either create a video specifically for Instagram or you can share a short preview on Instagram of another video you have published on your website or other network.In this example video from Cupcake Jemma, she created a short video promoting another video on her YouTube channel.

Share short videos on InstagramIt’s beneficial to share shorter videos like this on Instagram as videos that are around 26 seconds long get the most engagement. It can be hard to pack all your content into this time frame so use a teaser video to drive traffic to a full-length video.You can create something simple like this by using a tool like Screencast-O-Matic’s Video Editor. It lets you take a long video and cut it into smaller segments.

Use a good video editorThis tool also allows you to add overlay text, so you can create a thumbnail still like the example above.If you want to share longer videos, you should publish them on IGTV like Birchbox did here. This video is more than three minutes long.

Share longer videos on IGTV

Product tutorials

Create videos where you demonstrate how your product works. These types of videos can work for both physical and digital products. For physical products, you can record DIY videos and for digital products, you can share a screencast or a recording of you using the product.This example video from PicMonkey shows you how to design images with their software.

Share educative tutorials on InstagramThese types of videos will not only educate your audience but will also sell your products at the same time. So, create more tutorials like this that help promote your products.You can record the video by using a good camera or a screen recording tool (if you are creating a video tutorial on your computer) like the above mentioned Screencast-O-Matic. If you don’t have a budget for a camera, you can simply record it with your phone and invest in a camera after you generate some revenue.

Sales videos

Sales videos are meant to advertise the products in your store. They should focus solely on selling your products on Instagram. If you run an ecommerce store, tag your products in your videos and make them shoppable so people can find them easily.A good example is this video from Natori that is promoting their bedding. The call to action informs you that their products are tagged in the video.

Tag your products in videosWhen you click on it, all the products in the video are shown in a popup.

Tagged products from an Instagram videoPeople can click on the products and visit your website.

Get more traffic with shoppable Instagram postsTo create marketing videos like these you can use a tool like Lumen5.

Create sales videos on InstagramYou can use the clips and images provided by Lumen5 or you can upload your own. You can also add music and text.To tag products in your Instagram videos, follow this guide.

Influencer partnerships

Team up with influencers to create your Instagram videos. The type of content you create should depend on your goal. If you want to improve your brand image or get targeted followers, you should create videos that contain something useful or entertaining. But if you want to get more sales, you can ask the influencers to promote your products.In this example, Gymshark teamed up with Jessica Olie for a sponsored Instagram story video. In this story, Jessica directly linked to the Gymshark website.

Team up with influencers to promote productsThere was no need to ask people to visit the account of the advertiser and then click on the link in their bio.So, if you’re partnering up with influencers, try to do more stories and IGTV videos where influencers can directly link to the product. The fewer the steps, the better your chances of getting more conversions.


Creating videos for Instagram can drive more engagement and sales. If you are new to using video, this can seem like a daunting task.

So, start off by creating short educational videos for the regular feed. Once your feet are wet, give stories and IGTV a go.

When you’ve got the hang of creating educational content that drives up engagement, try creating more sales-focused videos.

About the author

By Mitt Ray ・5 min read

Mitt Ray is the founder of Social Marketing Writing.

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