Tuesday, July 19th, 2016 | 8 min read
Instagram video made its debut on June 20, 2013, a little over a year after Facebook acquired the company for $1 billion. The initial release allowed users to post 15-second videos (8 seconds longer than Twitter-acquired competitor Vine’s videos) and offered 13 filter options. In the first 24 hours, five million videos were uploaded.
This year, Instagram has rolled out a series of upgrades and enhancements to its video offerings. In February, the company announced that users would be able to see the number of video views in the place where likes are displayed for photos. Then, in March, Instagram announced that they were extending video length to 60 seconds, plus offering iOS users the ability to make videos from several clips on their camera roll. And in April, the company updated its Explore page with a “Videos You Might Like” feed as well as new video channels and themed channels.
Instagram has been named the top brand for social engagement two years in a row, beating out Facebook and Twitter, which is a big reason why so many brands are focused on growing their following on the platform. Check out the awesome things five brands and influencers are doing with Instagram video, plus what you can learn from them.
The 160-year-old British luxury brand is perhaps best known for its iconic trench coats, but Burberry is neither resting on its laurels nor showing any signs of old age. When it comes to Instagram video, the company doesn’t follow a formula, and it’s not afraid to experiment, which is refreshing coming from a company that’s such an institution.
For example, one video is a simple yet entrancing photo animation of the new in-store freehand calligraphic monogramming service for handbags; another is a clip of the Burberry Brit fragrance campaign starring fresh talent like Brooklyn Beckham, with a rock ‘n roll soundtrack.
One of its most compelling offerings is the video of 26-year-old artist Luke Edward Hall illustrating Burberry’s Patchwork bag for their autumn advertising campaign. And a makeup tutorial showcasing their Cashmere Collection products is one of their most successful videos, with 298k views. This willingness to try new things, and the success they’ve found doing so, is what makes Burberry such a fascinating brand in the social media age. From fashion show highlights to commercial clips to instructional videos, Burberry is showing that well-established brands can be as nimble as buzzy startups.
Her real name is Rachel Brathen, but you can find her on Instagram @yoga_girl (as her two million followers have already done). The yoga instructor lives in Aruba, so most of her videos are set against dreamy tropical backgrounds with a musical soundtrack, and they’re often paired with encouraging or confessional messages. So, they’re not so much instructional videos as inspirational posts paired with beautiful imagery (and aspirational poses).
She also shares a lot of her personal life on her Instagram account (a silly video of her kissing her husband at the airport drew 420k views), and she uses her account to promote personal causes like the animal rescue foundation she started on Aruba. This mix of personal and professional is key, and an important lesson; the videos aren’t exclusively about her latest book or tour or appearance, so when she does mix in posts that are more promotional, it’s more organic, so her followers don’t feel like she’s just trying to promote herself.
This UK florist has a little over 25k followers, so they certainly can’t be considered an Instagram heavy hitter. However, they are an example of how you can use Instagram video ads to dramatically increase orders and visibility. After experimenting with both images and video, they found that video resulted in the highest conversion rate. Their Instagram video ads helped them increase their bouquet orders by 62%. They also drew a lot of engagement from their new customers.
This goes to show that even small companies can tap Instagram video to make a major impact.
The Vancouver-based activewear company gained a cult-like following for its yoga gear, and it has a worldwide network of brand ambassadors that range from indoor cycling instructors to professional soccer players. Ramping up to the Olympics (which they simply refer to as “the big event this summer”), Lululemon has been highlighting their elite ambassadors in a series of videos with the tagline “Success Is Yours.” The Instagram videos—which are clips of longer pieces on the company’s website—include scenes of pole vaulter Melinda Withrow fly fishing with her dad in Montana while he does a voiceover about what makes a great athlete, and beach volleyball team Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson talking about their partnership.
Lululemon also stays true to its roots with instructional yoga videos, including a three-part series that each garnered more than 200k views. But the company knows that brand loyalists are also following them to stay up on their latest product offerings. That explains why their most popular video in recent history features a naked woman doing yoga to introduce a new pair of yoga pants that they tout as like “practicing in nothing at all.” So far the video has gotten 329k views.
With a whopping 41.9 million Instagram followers, the lingerie brand is a force on Instagram. The company stays true to its proven formula of featuring beautiful, long-haired models in swimwear and lingerie, and, unsurprisingly, it’s working for them. They create custom videos to promote their sales, and even those without the most sophisticated production value are successful. For example, a video promoting a panty sale garnered 1.5 million views.
Still, even though the brand is sticking with the script, they’re savvy about aligning themselves with models who bring big Instagram followings to the table. For example, a video of model Sara Sampaio (4 million followers) has gotten 980k views, and one of model Martha Hunt (1.9 million followers) has gotten 881k views. Brands can learn from this by staying true to their message and by joining forces with influencers to create a synergistic effect.
Conventional wisdom says that the longer a user spends with a piece of content, the more an impact it makes. So, even if photos currently garner higher engagement than video on Instagram, do images really make a bigger impact? A user can like something and continue scrolling, or they can spend up to 60 seconds with that piece of content, during which time they could be inspired, amused, and delighted. That longer time frame is an opportunity to convey your message in a more powerful way to an engaged audience, so the question is no longer whether brands should use Instagram video, but how to use it.