The following is a guest contributed post from Cole Vineyard, Senior Marketing Manager of Filmora and FilmoraGo.
In March, Instagram announced that it would start allowing users to post videos up to 60 seconds in length, a significant increase from the previous 15 second cap. This change has already had a huge impact on the way users, marketers and influencers interact with the app.
The increased length opens a door for content marketers to take a more serious look at using Instagram as a platform. The fifteen second limit had forced marketers to rely on outbound tactics, such as ads and endorsements, and made it difficult to provide high value content to customers.
Now there is room for true inbound content marketing through video. For brands already on Instagram that are unfamiliar with creating video content there may be a learning curve, but the payoff of tackling this new challenge could be a huge rise in consumer engagement.
Instagram says the change in video length is intended to allow users the flexibility to tell longer “more diverse” stories, and there is certainly an opportunity for more creative storytelling in a minute-long video than in a fifteen second clip. Instagram also recently updated its algorithm to favor quality content, so it is clear the app is serious about improving user experience.
However, allowing longer videos is also a matter of following trends. It has been predicted that by the year 2018 almost 80% of consumer internet traffic will be devoted to watching videos. In order to keep a larger portion of that traffic in their app, Instagram needed to enable users to consume and create more video content.
Why Limit Video Length at All?
This raises the question of why Instagram is choosing to limit video length at all. On YouTube and Facebook users can post videos that are much longer. However, there is a noticeable drop off in viewership within the first 30 seconds of many longer videos. If the video is only 60 seconds long, then viewers who might otherwise click away are more likely to watch until the end.
Viewers who finish videos are more likely to have had a positive experience with those videos and decide to watch more. This is good for Instagram because it keeps users on the site, and it is great for brands because those satisfied viewers are more likely to continue engaging with content posted by that same brand.
One minute is actually an ideal length for content marketers because it is long enough to encourage interaction from consumers and short enough to limit the rate at which viewers drop off. A video that lasts 60 seconds can actually result in both more watch time and brand engagement than a video that lasts longer because it has a higher chance of being watched to completion.
The Challenges Presented by Longer Videos
Sixty seconds is long enough to tell an engaging story. It is also long enough to get boring, if you are not careful. Expectations on Instagram are high. Failure to meet the standards of Instagram users can result in a backlash. For example, Instagram used to be very selective about the ads they allowed to appear on the platform. Brands submitted ads which were reviewed by an actual human being who would judge whether the image met Instagram’s standards for quality and creativity. That is no longer the case.
Now any brand that can afford it can buy ad space on Instagram through the ad platform and not be held to the same quality standards they once would have been, at least not by the app. Users complained vehemently both to the site and to brands producing substandard content. Although they ultimately decided to live with the changes, there is still some bitterness. The resentment of subpar ads used in some outbound marketing strategies creates a huge opportunity for inbound content marketers to make their brands stand out.
While expectations for posts from unglamorous brands like Walmart are fairly low now, brands and individuals which are actually dependent on their online communities need to rise to different standards. A look at the user generated content Instagram has chosen to feature will give marketers and influencers a better idea of expectations on Instagram than browsing through some major brands’ posts.
Creating quality photographs for Instagram was already a challenge for individuals and brands alike, and the potential to create longer videos creates even more challenges. Don’t let that put you off, videos garner more engagement than photos, which means there is a chance for brands to create a feeling of community amongst their customers. The trick, for marketers, is creating the kinds of videos that will start conversations.
Rising to Quality Expectations
Marketers who are familiar with creating video content, but unfamiliar with Instagram, will face an obstacle in that Instagram only allows uploads from mobile devices. This could make it difficult to maintain the same level of quality.
Influencers, brands and Instagram users in general who are not familiar with video production and editing may find that there is a learning curve to creating longer videos that are at the same quality level as the photos and short clips they had been producing. This will result in an increased demand for simplified mobile editing apps which can make that curve less steep.
Editing is likely to be more important on Instagram than it has been on YouTube or Facebook. This is due to the length of videos still being limited – meaning there is literally no time to waste – and the higher quality expectations as noted earlier.
Instagram is attempting to meet this demand itself. In addition to increasing the length of the videos users can post, they also brought back a previously discarded feature which gives users the ability to stitch together multiple videos stored in their camera rolls.
There are also mobile editing apps, such as FilmoraGo by Wondershare, which are attempting to provide easy and feature-rich solutions for mobile videographers. FilmoraGo, in specific, offers content marketers the kinds of features that will likely be expected by audiences on Instagram, such as animated titles, royalty free music, filters and motion graphics and much more, all in an easy to use interface. It’s quickly becoming the go-to choice for Instagram video.
Another reason editing will become important is the recent algorithm update. Rather than just showing users posts in chronological order, the new Instagram algorithm is intended to favor quality content. It is hard to say how quality is measured, but it is a fair guess to say that user engagement is a factor.
Posting a large quantity of content that may have been decent, but not truly remarkable, used to work for brands because it was guaranteed to show up in the chronological feed of anybody who followed them. There is no longer any such guarantee. This has marketers in a slight panic, although it need not. So long as a brand is prepared to focus on creating high quality engaging video content it should be able to position itself well on the changing platform of Instagram.