Wistia’s Guide to Instagram Video

Everything you need to know to ignite your Instagram feed with video.

June 14, 2021

Meisha Bochicchio


Frank Emanuele


Whether you’re snapping a brunch pic at the trendiest new spot in town or posting an adorable selfie with your pup, there’s no shame in doing it for the ‘Gram. A popular platform for personal use and influencers, Instagram can definitely also work for brands — especially when it comes to video content.

As the third most popular social media platform, Instagram has attracted over 1 billion active users across the globe. How’s that for audience potential?

The key to winning with Instagram video is to lean into the platform’s strengths and keep things super fun and authentic. We’ll show you how to do just that in this complete guide. Let’s dive in!

Why Instagram is great for video content

If you have an Instagram account, you’re likely already familiar with the amount of video content on the platform — and there’s a reason why brands and businesses continue to publish it. Let’s break it down by the numbers.

Video content gets more engagement

In general, video content receives 49% higher engagement than static content. We’ve seen this at Wistia — our video content outperforms our static content by 51%.

More granularly, 42% of people watch Instagram Stories, and 35% of people watch video content directly in the newsfeed.

People want video content from brands

Believe it or not, people want to hear from brands! 90% of accounts follow a business on Instagram, and 83% say Instagram helps them discover new products or services.

The key to engaging your followers on Instagram is to really understand what your audience wants and use the platform’s strengths to your advantage (more on that later).

Marketers are investing in video content

Finally, 58% of marketers plan to include Instagram in their larger video marketing strategy this year. Video is hotter than ever, and more marketers are looking for creative ways to engage their audiences across platforms.

Simply put — if you’re not creating video content for Instagram, you might be falling behind as a brand. Now’s the time to seriously consider jumping in the video game.

“Instagram offers a ton of flexibility for video. Whether your audience prefers short-form content, long-form content, or something in-between, Instagram likely has what you’re looking for.”
Frank Emanuele
Social Media Manager, Wistia

Instagram video placement

Instagram offers several spots to house video content, each with its own bit of nuance. Let’s explore the various video placements within the platform.

Organic feed videos

Newsfeed videos are posted to a brand’s page and show up organically in the newsfeed as people scroll. The videos will also show up on a brand’s content grid with a play button icon to indicate the post is a video.

There is a 60-second limit on feed videos, but don’t sweat it if your content is longer. You can still post the first minute to your feed, and your viewers will get a prompt to watch the rest on IGTV. Then, all it takes is one tap, and they’ll seamlessly be directed to your IGTV channel, where they can finish the rest of your video.

Organic feed videos autoplay without sound, so keep this in mind when creating your content. We always recommend video captions for this very reason!

Here’s an example of a video we posted on our Instagram newsfeed to promote a webinar on remote video production. Take a look!

Technical specs

  • File type: MP4, MOV, or GIF
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:5
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Video captions: Optional, but recommended
  • Video sound: Optional, but recommended
  • Video length: 1 second to 60 minutes
  • Maximum file size: 250 MB

Read more on Instagram feed video requirements.

Instagram Stories

Launched as a feature to compete with Snapchat, Instagram Stories allows users to share images and short video clips that automatically disappear after 24 hours. These snappy clips max out at 15 seconds long. If you upload a video that’s longer than 15 seconds, Instagram will automatically divide it into shorter clips for you — so don’t worry about having to edit down the snippets.

Stories is a fun place to experiment and try new things. This specific area offers tons of fun features like emojis and gifs, interactive polls and Q&A boxes, music clips, and so much more. So embrace this opportunity to get creative and have some fun with your video content!

Stories can also be a great spot to promote your other Instagram content. There are built-in tools to share your Feed posts, IGTV videos, and Reels to your Story for any followers who may not have already seen them.

Another great thing about Stories is that you can curate a collection of these clips to feature on your profile as a Highlight. These Highlights can have custom thumbnail images and titles to describe what your collection includes, like “instructional videos” or “podcasts.” Highlights allows you to extend the life of your video content and create a totally custom profile experience for visitors. Here’s what we feature on our Instagram Highlights section.

Looking to see some stories in action? Check out our Instagram Story Highlight series about life at Wistia.

Technical specs

  • File type: MP4, MOV or GIF
  • Aspect Ratio: 9:16
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080
  • Video captions: Available with “Captions” sticker
  • Video sound: Optional, but recommended
  • Video length: 15 seconds or less

Read more on Instagram Stories.

Get Inspired
Looking to produce brand Stories that really pop? We’ve got you covered — check out our guide to making professional Instagram Stories.

Instagram TV (IGTV)

Do you have long-form video content to share with the world? Instagram TV might just be your new best friend! Released as Instagram’s answer to YouTube, this placement allows creators to share videos up to 60 minutes in length. This is ideal for content like video tutorials, interviews, and episodic content.

There are a few things to keep in mind when creating content for IGTV. First, users can only upload videos up to 15 minutes in length via a mobile device. Longer videos (up to 60 minutes) can be uploaded on a desktop device.

Also remember that IGTV was designed to optimize the mobile viewing experience. Horizontal videos are now compatible, but vertical videos still look best. So, embrace the vertical video format when recording and editing your content. You’ll want the videos to look super natural and professional across all devices.

Once created, Instagram TV videos will appear on your main profile page and on a special IGTV-only tab. Videos can be sorted into “Series” on the IGTV tab, which is perfect if you’re posting episodic content and want your episodes to be grouped together. You can also create IGTV videos without sharing the content to the main newsfeed, but sharing it everywhere will increase your viewership opportunities, so we say go for it! Browsers can also discover your content on the Instagram Explore page. This area uses an algorithm to curate personalized content based on viewing history and preferences.

E-commerce platform provider Shopify uses IGTV to house video content they create just for the platform. They lean into the longer format to share industry trends, thought leadership, and inspirational stories — like this clip from their Work Through Failure series.

Technical specs

  • File type: MP4, MOV or GIF
  • Aspect Ratio: 9:16
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080
  • Video captions: Available with “Captions” sticker
  • Video sound: Optional, but recommended
  • Video length: up to 60 minutes

Read more on Instagram TV.

New to IGTV? We’ve got you covered. Learn how to create engaging IGTV content that will keep your followers coming back for more!


Instagram’s latest feature, Reels, comes in the wake of TikTok’s rising popularity. The feature allows users to quickly create and share short, bingeable video clips.

Instagram has put Reels front and center with a new tab on the main profile page dedicated to these viral clips. Users can also discover new Reels content on the Explore page.

It’s important to note — Reels are created and edited directly within the Instagram app. You cannot upload a video clip as a Reel, unlike other forms of video content across the platform. However, the app does have some pretty nifty features (similar to Stories) to make videos pop. Use these to add flair to your content or to take advantage of a viral trend.

Inbound marketing platform HubSpot uses Reels to connect with their sales and marketing audience through humor.

Technical specs

  • File type: MP4, MOV or GIF
  • Aspect Ratio: 9:16
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080
  • Video captions: Available with “Captions” sticker
  • Video sound: Optional, but recommended
  • Video length: 15 seconds or less

Read more on Instagram Reels.

Instagram Live

Are you looking for a way to break down barriers and connect with your audience in real time? If so, Instagram Live videos could be the answer.

Instagram Live allows you to stream a live feed to your followers. No pre-recorded or edited videos allowed! This keeps live streams natural and authentic. Nervous about going live on your own? No sweat. Instagram Live makes it easy to invite another user “on stage” with you.

Going live is also a great way to increase discoverability. Followers will receive an in-app notification when you go live, and your live stream will be bumped to the front of their Stories screen for enhanced visibility.

And after you finish the broadcast, your Live video will stay on your Story for 24 hours. This gives more folks a chance to check out your live content well after the cameras stop rolling. You can even share your IG Live to IGTV after you’re done recording, giving it an even longer shelf life.

Curious about what type of live event to host? Educational events, like short webinars or tutorials, or thought leadership like interviews or Q&A panels, work well for B2B brands. These events can be lower in production value (remember — you’ll just use your phone to record) and therefore a bit easier for teams to execute.

Nervous about going live? We’ve got you covered. Check out our guide to live streaming for tons of tips and tricks to make your live launch smooth and easy.

We went live on Instagram several times in 2021 to promote our new 20-part video series, Show Business. Check out the example below, where Growth Marketing Manager Vanessa Luis interviews Lead Producer Sydney Rutman on how to develop a brand show.

The setup for this was so easy! Vanessa and Sydney prepped a few questions in advance for the live Q&A, and both parties simply used their phones for the conversation. A bit of planning is all you need for a great live session!

Technical specs

  • File type: MP4 or MOV
  • Aspect Ratio: 9:16
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080
  • Video captions: Unavailable
  • Video sound: Recommended
  • Video length: Up to 60 minutes
  • Maximum file size: N/A

Read more on Instagram Live.

Tips for great Instagram video content

Whew, that was a lot of info! Now that we’ve covered all of the specific spots you can host your videos on Instagram, let’s explore a few tips on delivering scroll-stopping video content.

Edit your videos for each placement

A video you create for IGTV likely won’t translate well for a Story. Likewise, you can’t upload a pre-recorded video as a Reel. Be sure you’re familiar with the different requirements for each video placement, and edit your videos accordingly.

You don’t need expensive video gear to produce great videos. Elevate your content with these handy tips on how to shoot video with your iPhone.

Use the app’s native features

Instagram offers a ton of native features to help your video content pop. From fun filters and stickers to boomerang videos, hashtags, and gifs, there are so many ways to jazz up your video content. Don’t be afraid to play around with these features and experiment with the fun nature of the app.

Think about the thumbnail

When you’re posting a video to the feed or IGTV, you’ll have the chance to pick a thumbnail. This is an opportunity to make a good first impression on folks scrolling through your grid or IGTV tab, so make it count! You can choose either your favorite frame from the video itself or upload a custom image from your camera roll.

Get Inspired
Learn how to make social videos that shine with these six scroll-stopping tips!

Best types of videos for Instagram

So far we’ve covered where you can upload video content, which means you may now be wondering what type of video content works best. While there’s no blanket answer to this question, here are a few types of Instagram videos that tend to work well for B2B brands (with examples!).


A popular hack for great social media videos? Start with a hook! Give viewers something to look forward to and keep them coming back for more. Video trailers are the perfect way to tease upcoming content from your brand, like a new video series, podcast, or webinar. Keep your teaser short (we recommend around a minute in length) and highlight only the juiciest parts of your larger project.

Here’s a look at the video trailer 360Learning created to tease season two of their award-winning docuseries, Onboarding Joei.


Do you remember when Buzzfeed debuted Tasty videos, and everyone became enamored with the quick how-to recipe videos? Brands should take note and give their audience content they’re really hungry for (see what we did there?).

What does your audience want to learn? It could be industry-related, like how to make a great Instagram video. Or maybe it’s product-related, which is the route HubSpot took with their video on how to write an effective campaign brief using one of their templates. Take a look!

Behind the scenes (BTS)

Not all video content has to be buttoned-up and glossy. On the contrary, people LOVE BTS content — they want to see the unfiltered, messy side of brands. Leverage the fun, authentic side of Instagram and share this type of content. BTS could be anything from B-roll or bloopers from a video project to employee takeovers.

Creative cloud company Adobe went behind the scenes with two creative residents about their experience working for the brand. Check it out below!

Instagram video tools

Before we wrap up, here are a few of our favorite tools to create memorable Instagram videos.


Looking for a way to level up your Instagram Stories? Unfold might have what you’re looking for. This app makes it easy to elevate your Stories with high quality, professionally designed templates and presets that add elegance to your content and set it apart.


Do you want to add some polish and pizzaz to your social videos? If so, InShot is the answer. This social-savvy app allows you to quickly and easily edit video clips. Tackle tasks like trimming, merging, adjusting speed, adding filters and effects, and more with just a few clicks. Video editing made easy!


Are you managing video content across multiple platforms? Then you’ll want Buffer on your side. This robust social media management platform allows users to seamlessly upload and schedule videos to Instagram. This is a huge time-saver for busy marketing managers juggling multiple accounts.

Create beautiful Instagram videos in just a few clicks! Check out a full list of our favorite social media video tools to make your content shine.

Rev up your Instagram with some va-va-video

Adding video to your Instagram strategy is the ideal way to make your brand more human and approachable. By understanding what types of video work best for each placement, you can start brainstorming ideas for what might work well for your brand.

Be sure to take advantage of the built-in tools that Instagram offers, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different ideas to see what resonates with your audience.

June 14, 2021

Meisha Bochicchio


Frank Emanuele


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