Everything You Need to Know About Instagram Video Formats

Everything You Need to Know About Instagram Video Formats

Everything You Need to Know About Instagram Video Formats

Make video easy and more accessible. This summarises the purpose of Instagram in a few words. In October 2021, the social network decided once again to change the layout of its features. No more IGTVs that never really found their place. The team brought together all formats, both long and short, under a single name: Instagram Video.


“There’s nothing easier than making videos. Making videos is easy. Regardless of length, you can create videos the same way— and now with a full screen option“, the app specifies on the overview page.

To encourage users to watch them and get into the habit of doing so, these videos are undergoing some changes:

  • the preview time in the news feed has increased from 15 to 30 seconds,
  • to watch the entire video, you no longer need to head to another page. Simply click on the video to make it full screen and enjoy the content,
  • analytics data for videos are gathered in one place,
  • once on the video, you can scroll up to discover other videos,
  • the features have been redesigned: new filters, new editing tool, ability to tag and add location information to content.


In this way, Instagram wants to become “a destination for people who want to watch video.” The algorithm helps users to find content that suits them. Videos are personalized, making it easy to discover and watch content from creators you follow to or might be interested in.


What does Instagram Video actually include? The team wanted to bring together all its video formats. Reels and IGTVs have merged into one format. Otherwise, for now stories and lives remain unchanged. The goal is above all to play an important role in the creation and consumption of video. “By 2021, mobile videos will account for 78% of total mobile data traffic,” Instagram points out.


With all these formats, it is easy to become overwhelmed. What are the different video features? Why is it more worthwhile to create long Reels rather than short ones? Or to stories? Or livestreams? In this complete guide, we analyse each of the video formats on the platform to explore all of their features and help you make your choice.


Instagram video formats

Since 2016 and the arrival of stories, Instagram has focused on video. Since then, almost every year, a new feature has cropped up:

  • Lives in 2017,
  • IGTVs in 2018,
  • Reels in 2021.

To get a clearer idea of what to use, here’s an overview of each of these features.


Instagram video, short and long content

Let’s start with Instagram video. Under this name, as you’ll have understood, Instagram has gathered both its short videos, Reels, and its long-form videos, IGTV. Users can post content ranging from a few seconds to an hour. The recommended format is vertical so that the image of the video takes the whole screen and is more pleasant to watch. This content must be immersive so that the viewer is truly transported to another world. By developing these formats, Instagram wanted to compete head-on with other applications: TikTok’s short format and YouTube’s long format. The goal is to be the app for when you want to watch video content.


Followers can discover this content in their news feeds, on discovery pages or on the profiles of content creators and brands. Two tabs are found on profile pages: one dedicated to Reels and the other to longer videos.


With these features, Instagram is focusing on the creativity of its users. To stand out, you have to come up with an original concept that can be easily adapted to always have content ideas. What are the specific benefits of this format for creating posts? Here are a few tips to help you decide whether or not this format is right for you:


  • Instagram videos don’t disappear: unlike stories, the content does not disappear after 24 hours,
  • videos may be longer to go into depth or shorter for a more entertaining feel.
  • short and long formats can complement each other: the former can serve as a teaser encouraging users to watch the latter at length. The short format can also be used to get your audience interested in the release of a new product or a new collaboration. The challenge is to grab the attention of as many users as possible in a few seconds.
  • Instagram videos are part of the account’s editorial line: they complement the other types of content put online, such as posts, carousels and guides. They allow users to communicate differently with their audience,
  • with video users can directly share their thoughts on screen. This offers endless creativity for those who want to get started thanks to editing tools that allow you to add music, effects or text.


Note: Reels can now be created on Facebook in the News Feed and Groups. The app allows users in the US to use its editing tool.


Users have created real series with these short and long formats.

Content creators regularly use videos to showcase products they’ve tested, making sure to include the link. This way, followers can find them at any time.



Instagram Live

Since the lockdowns, the live format on Instagram has seen renewed interest. This feature was designed with one goal in mind: to make it easier for followers and users to connect. Since March 2021, you can even go live with up to four other users. However, users are only allowed to go live for an hour. For those who missed the event, the live can be turned into an IGTV. That way it remains accessible on the profile.


Unlike Instagram videos, these lives are a one-time event. Users who want to join in can ask questions or react to the brand or influencer’s topic. The challenge for them is to get as many people interested as possible in the space of an hour. That’s why these lives must be prepared and focus on at least one topic (discussions, product presentations, etc.).


Why should users follow these Instagram Lives more closely? We believe there are several reasons:

  • these livestreams allow you to better connect with your community.
  • these interactions are natural. Those on screen don’t hide behind editing or music. They show themselves as they are, authentically.
  • these lives can turn into real events. You can hold one each week to talk about a specific subject. And this hour will be 100% dedicated to your community.
  • these livestreams are also a way to learn more about the person behind the account.


Note: Instagram lives were developed to compete with platforms like Twitch or tools like YouTube Live. In order to attract as many people as possible, Instagram has “gamified” this tool. Users can launch Q&As or react to others livestreams whilst increasing their visibility through paid options. People don’t just come to chat, they come to be entertained.


Instagram Stories

How can we finish this overview of Instagram video formats without mentioning stories? This format is by far the most used by content creators and brands alike. Launched nearly five years ago, this feature does not seem to be running out of steam yet. Quite the contrary! In recent years, influencers are creating more of this content by sharing ever more creative images. To see this, just look at the amount of useful tips for successful stories on Pinterest.


What makes Instagram stories different from other types of content? Here is a list of important things to know:

  • stories are ephemeral content. After 24 hours, they disappear. To not miss anything, users are encouraged to watch throughout the day.
  • stories rely on spontaneity. As for livestreams, there is generally no editing. Users can hide behind filters, but the objective of this tool is to be in the moment: sharing what we’re up to right now.
  • stories offer a space to discuss with your community on a day to day basis. There are numerous ways to facilitate these interactions via polls, Q&As, etc. Users take ownership of these tools to communicate with their followers.


With this format, Instagram is clearly competing with Snapchat. This application made stories its main format.


Note: Featured stories appear on the profile when users decide to keep them longer than 24 hours. Well thought-out and executed, this content is a real bonus for accounts. New followers discover important moments they missed. Typically, content creators share their product tests or travels. For brands, it is more worthwhile to have stories showcasing their values and products.


Conclusion on Instagram videos

If there was only one word to remember about these different formats on Instagram, it would be “creativity.” The platform encourages its users to go above and beyond to stand out. For this, they can now try out a wide range of tools. From short and long videos, to livestreams and stories, Instagram has diversified at breakneck speed.

The direction the platform wants to take in the coming months seems pretty clear. While in its early days Instagram was a photo app, today it is positioned more as a space where you create and consume video. Will users be receptive to the social network’s desires? Let’s wait a few months to find out how users will adapt to the new requirements of the platform. Are you as impatient as we are?


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Ecrit par Kevin Le Guyader

Marketing Manager

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