A Quick Guide to Instagram Videos

Image for post
Image for post

Video content is sweeping across the internet. Just hop onto any major social media network, and you’ll no doubt spot one or two videos, if not a handful, while scrolling.

In particular, short videos are taking the stage as one of the most widespread and engaging types of social media posts. And of the platforms that host these types of videos, Instagram is one of the best.

Why? Instagram has more than a billion monthly active users that engage with video posts more frequently than image posts. The platform now offers various video types, lengths, and delivery methods to capitalize on this trend.

Since more than 82% of consumer internet traffic is predicted to come from videos by 2022, Instagram is ahead of the game.

To get your business’s marketing ahead of the curve, you’ll want to take advantage of Instagram video.

Using Instagram video effectively can help you enhance your brand’s organic reach and create an audience of dedicated fans.

To get started, check out our quick guide to the different types of video Instagram offers and how to use them in your marketing and branding strategy.

Why Use Instagram Videos for Marketing?

But first, it’s worth noting why exactly Instagram’s video offerings are a solid investment for your marketing strategy. Consider these statistics:

  • Videos get 49% more interactions than images.
  • Mobile video consumption is growing 100% annually.
  • 72% of users would prefer to learn about a new product through a video than through text.
  • On top of its one billion monthly active users, Instagram has 500 million daily active users.

Simply put, videos have become a critical force in digital marketing, and Instagram is one of the best platforms for posting your videos when it comes to reaching and exposure.

Given these facts, a better question might be: Why wouldn’t you use Instagram videos?

The 5 Main Types of Instagram Videos

Unlike other platforms, Instagram videos can take several forms. There are five basic types:

  • In-feed videos
  • Stories
  • Instagram Live videos
  • IGTV
  • Reels

These types of videos are all accessible through the Instagram app and connect to a single Instagram account.

In other words, there’s no need to build an audience on separate platforms; if you have an Instagram account, you’re ready to go.

Of course, it’s worth noting that each type of Instagram video comes with unique features.

Here’s how each type differs as well as our suggestions for how to incorporate them into your marketing best.

#1. In-Feed Videos

Instagram posts generally live in the user’s “feed,” the main dashboard that collects all of the posts from accounts the user follows.

In-feed videos show up here and are also stored on your account’s profile page.

Unlike other types of Instagram video, in-feed videos have no expiration date. They remain connected to your profile indefinitely and are available to view unless you delete or archive them.

Image for post
Image for post

Because of this relative permanency, it’s important to give your in-feed videos a little extra polish. Instagram users know that you can prepare your in-feed videos in advance.

Pretty, well-produced in-feed videos will get more views, which is key to getting the Instagram algorithm to pay attention to your content.

In-feed videos can be as long as one minute. That gives you enough time to be creative, but not enough time to leave dead air.

Keep your in-feed videos engaging and entertaining, and don’t feel like you need to use the whole 60 seconds if you have an idea that works in less time.

Pro Tip: Explainer videos that discuss your brand or industry, seasonal product highlights, and time-lapse videos are all great types of content for in-feed videos.

#2. Stories

Unlike in-feed videos, stories don’t show up in a user’s feed. Instead, they appear above the feed in a small circle with your profile picture.

That makes your Instagram Story videos a great way to catch people’s eye before they start scrolling.

Stories only hang around for 24 hours, though — so they’re best for conveying transient messages. In this way, they also feel more “low stakes” and consequently don’t require the same level of production as in-feed videos.

In fact, most Instagram users expect a more casual, DIY quality from Stories compared to in-feed videos.

Image for post
Image for post

If you create a Story that you want to keep forever, you can always pin it to your account’s Highlights, of course.

Another unique aspect of Stories is their length: a single Instagram Story lasts 15 seconds, but you can create up to 100 per day.

If you have a longer video, Instagram will break it into 15-second chunks automatically. A Story works best as a quick glimpse into your brand.

Pro Tip: It’s not all video — you can post a combination of still images and videos on your Story, making it easy to add video title cards without the hassle.

Just remember to stick to your brand guidelines to keep your branding consistent. Try using your Story to offer behind-the-scenes clips, quick product demos, or even reposting content your fans produce.

#3. Instagram Live Videos

As you might assume from the name, Instagram Live videos are live streams hosted on the platform.

They offer the chance to interact with customers in real-time, whether that’s starting a conversation or answering questions.

What makes this format particularly appealing? When it comes to engaging with your audience, it’s hard to get more direct than a live stream!

Image for post
Image for post

Instagram Live videos appear in the same place as your Story. In fact, you can turn an Instagram Live video into a Story after the live stream is over.

This can help you get more views if your live stream happens to be an event that other people may be interested in watching.

When you start live streaming, Instagram sends a notification to users that regularly engage with your brand.

This can help you build an audience for the live stream right away. You can also post announcements ahead of your live stream to spread the word and make sure people tune in.

You can stream with Instagram Live for up to four hours. This is great for brands that work with events like concerts or conferences.

However, for other types of live streams, it’s best to keep things short and sweet and post the result to your Story. This makes the live stream feel more exclusive for the people watching.

Pro Tip: Use Instagram Live for weekly Q&As, interviews, big events, or to highlight exciting events behind the scenes.

#4. IGTV

While short-form video content is excellent for engaging with users in small doses, you might find a topic worthy of more in-depth exploration.

That’s why IGTV came in handy.

As one of Instagram’s newest offerings, IGTV is a long-form content platform. These videos are generally between 15 seconds and 10 minutes long.

However, verified accounts can post IGTV videos that are as long as an hour, provided they’re uploaded from a computer.

Image for post
Image for post

While live streams, Stories, and in-feed videos can be great weekly additions to your marketing strategy, you may have more success using IGTV as an occasional, in-depth project.

It’s likely that with the TV-style format, Instagram users will expect polished videos that are more useful or entertaining than a single social media post.

Set yourself up for success by writing a script and planning your IGTV posts with more structure.

Recently, IGTV expanded its format so that videos can be vertical or landscape. This expansion makes IGTV even more flexible as a long-form video platform.

Pro Tip: Try using IGTV for documentaries, video tours of your space, or in-depth product tutorials.

#5. Reels

Finally, there are Instagram Reels — the platform’s newest type of video content.

Like TikTok, Reels allow Instagram users to record, splice and edit short video clips set to musical tracks available in Instagram’s library.

Users can then share them on their Stories and Explore feed, though Reels also appear in a separate tab on user profiles.

While Reels have exploded in popularity as a way for individuals to express themselves creatively, they’re also a great medium for businesses to grow their reach.

Image for post
Image for post

As bite-sized videos, Reels are particularly useful for entertaining and engaging with audiences.

While Instagram traditionally displays content based on who users follow and engage with, its algorithm for Reels appears to take a different approach that makes it easy for new content creators to be discovered.

Pro Tip: Instagram Reels are perfect for showcasing products, behind-the-scenes content, and other campaigns to drive brand awareness.


Both video consumption and Instagram’s user base are growing at an impressive rate.

For this reason, taking the time to learn how to use Instagram video for marketing your brand is well worth the effort.

Not only is it an effective way of building engagement, but it’s also a great way to develop your business’s customer-brand relationships so that customers feel a stronger connection to your work.


Joyce Chou is a Content Marketing Strategist at Compose.ly, a B2B content creation platform that matches businesses with seasoned freelance writers. Apart from managing and writing for Compose.ly’s blog, Joyce also contributes to other publications about digital marketing, personal finance, and business and eCommerce.

Helping startups and business grow faster with explainer videos at https://breadnbeyond.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store