Monday, November 23rd, 2015 | 7 min read
Instagram video has come a long way since it burst onto the scene in June 2013. Just a few months after it launched, Unruly Media found that 40% of the top 1,000 most-shared Instagram videos were posted by brands. And a year after that, Instagram unveiled its video ad capabilities. Major brands such as Banana Republic and Vogue have already made strides in using Instagram video to reach the platform’s 400 million active monthly users. But now that the mobile app has finally opened its API for all businesses, brands big and small are preparing to try it out for themselves. How will your brand make the most of its 15-30 seconds? Consider these actionable strategies for creating visually—engaging video.
It’s important to know not just your brand’s specific audience, but also Instagram’s audience as a whole, which is largely young and socially engaged. As eMarketer reported earlier this year, 62 percent of U.S. internet users aged 11-16 and 44 percent of 18-29 year olds use Instagram. The Pew Research Center also found that half of Instagram users check into the platform daily. Understanding these users will help you make the most efficient choices when choosing targeting options and building creative assets that resonate with your desired consumer base. On a related note, it’s best not to create an umbrella strategy for all of your social media platforms, as each site’s user base differs. For instance, Battery Ventures found that Instagram has 76 percent more active female users than Twitter, and Instagram users skew younger.
Ask yourself these questions: What will set your video ad apart from the other content your brand has to offer? What will set it apart from the other content your audience sees when scrolling through their feeds? And what will make them want to stop scrolling and watch? Before you begin to think about execution, choose the concept that best answers these questions. For example, Ben & Jerry’s used Instagram video to give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at how the San Francisco’s City Churned ice cream is created in the company’s Flavor Lab.
Meanwhile, LEGO created a mini movie with a tie-in to the new highly anticipated Star Wars film.
Instagram suggests having motion in the first few frames of your video. After all, if your video starts off slowly, your audience might scroll right past it, mistaking it for another still image. A strong example of a brand embracing this tactic is this Mercedes-Benz video, which puts viewers in the front seat of a time-lapsed ride along Colorado’s Independence Pass.
Just like on Facebook, Instagram videos are mute by default. To capture your audience’s attention, consider solely using visuals or adding text captions that can tell a story without sound. For instance, food stylist Livia Sala was a 2013 Short Award finalist for her Instagram video showing the making of ravioli, which incorporated captions made of food.
To help you change up the pace and format of your videos, Instagram launched two partner editing apps. Hyperlapse, which has been around since August 2013, lets creators speed up their videos and produce time-lapses. As Cliff Kuang wrote for Wired, “What was once only possible with a Steadicam or a $15,000 tracking rig is now possible on your iPhone, for free.” Boomerang, which launched this October, invites creators to take action shots and play them forwards and backwards. Sound confusing? Check out how Timberland used the app to show someone flipping through its fall catalog.
Instagram is giving advertisers a huge opportunity to drive leads through the platform with clickable buttons such as “Sign Up” and “Shop Now.” Choose the one that best fits your video and brand message, and make sure it aligns with your marketing objectives. For example, if you’re looking to generate brand awareness, you might consider using a “Learn More” button to take viewers to your company’s mobile site.
To help you get your message in front of the right people, Instagram synced up its targeting capabilities with those of its parent company, Facebook. Instagram advertisers can now target audiences based on age, location, gender, demographics, and interests. The mobile app will also allow marketers to upload their own information about their consumers and create Custom Audiences, just like on Facebook.
Think about what your consumers want to see when scrolling through their feed. For instance, are they passionate about fashion? Do they need helpful travel tips? Do they want to be up on the latest entertainment trends? Your video should address these interests and stand out enough to grab people’s attention, but not feel so much like an ad that it distracts from the user experience. In other words, it should jive with the rest of your target audience’s Instagram content. Again, the better you know who your users are, the more relevant and engaging your videos will be.
With Instagram opening its API to all businesses this year, the video ad space is still a relatively untapped market. This means the door is wide open for brands to jump in and experiment with visually engaging and innovative content. Chances are, your audience is already on the platform and ready to see video that’s impressive enough to stop them in their feed. Use these strategies to show them you’re listening and that you know how to grab their attention in 30 seconds or less.
About the Author: Amanda Walgrove writes about content marketing, social media, and online entertainment. She has written for Advertising Week, The Huffington Post, Tablet Magazine, and The Content Strategist, among others.