If you are looking to step up your Instagram game, we’re here to help. If you are trying to become more popular, build a personal brand or maybe a business, video is a crucial part of your strategy.
But not any kind of video will do the job, especially on Instagram. You want to create videos that get hundreds of thousands of views, tons of comments, likes, and more followers. Here’s how to find success on Instagram.
5 tips that will make your Instagram videos pop
1. Make it catchy right from the start
Our collective attention span is terrible these days. According to this research, humans now have an attention span of roughly eight seconds, which puts us just under a goldfish, which can focus for a monumental nine seconds.
How crazy is that?
You need to make the first few seconds really, really catchy. Otherwise, the people will continue to scroll down and your video will get no views.
You can make a video really catchy in just two simple steps:
- Ditch the intro. Nobody wants to know your name, where you are from or your life history. Get right to the point and tell or show people what you can do for them or what you are all about.
- Make it either really funny or emotional. Or both at the same time if you can. Videos that entertain or touch people’s emotion are more likely to grab their attention.
So definitely put some thought into your video before you actually start filming. You can even write a short script for it.
Don’t worry about telling people to follow you, or trying to sell them anything. If they like your video they will be more likely to follow you and they can become customers down the road.
For example, the guys over at GoPro do a really good job at it without trying to sell anything in the video.
Check this out.
2. Focus on telling a story
Plan how you want your video to go or even write a short script. Plan the scenes, think about what you want to film, what you will say, what audio will you use, and how you want the final edit to come out.
People love stories they can relate to. So think about your audience and about their interests, their problems, their everyday lives, and craft your video based on that.
Travel-related videos such as the one below are a perfect example of great storytelling.
Since Instagram videos can’t be longer than 60 seconds, you can’t pull off a Martin Scorsese epic, but you can build tension, create intrigue, and have people follow you for future videos. If you’re really good, you can send traffic to your YouTube channel or website.
3. Step up your filming game
The average Instagram user will shoot using a smartphone, right? That’s convenient, given the way Instagram works. Even though there is nothing wrong with filming with a smartphone, you want to keep an eye out for a few things if you want to have really crisp videos.
Lighting can really make or break a video regardless of how expensive the device or camera you are using is. Most cameras, including the ones on smartphones, have small sensors which will overexpose, so you end up with washed-out scenes and blown-out colors.
If you are shooting indoors make sure you are sitting in a bright room, preferably with the camera between the window and the subject and plenty of natural light coming in. If the natural light is not good enough, you will have to use studio lights.
Generally speaking, you need one “key” light on one side and one “fill” light on the other side. That’s the bare minimum when it comes to a lighting setup.
If you are shooting outdoors you will probably be fine with any conditions. A pro tip is to shoot during the so-called “golden hour.” That’s just after the sunrise or right before sunset. That’s when the light looks epic and it will really make your videos look awesome.
Another thing you want to keep an eye out for is stabilization. Most handheld shots will look pretty bad, especially if you are using your smartphone and you are holding it just with one hand like the majority of Instagram users do.
Shaky footage looks amateurish and it will put viewers off right away. That’s why it is super important to keep your camera as steady as possible. If you don’t need to move it at all, use a tripod.
If you do need to move, we highly recommend investing in a gimbal. It will probably run you around $150-$200 but your videos will look buttery-smooth. It is totally worth the cost.
If your footage ends up looking shaky, you can add some digital stabilization in the video editing process as well, but that will work to a lesser degree.
The maximum video resolution supported by Instagram is 640 x 640 pixels – the app’s default square format. If you are shooting specifically for Instagram you will be fine with using a resolution of 720p or 1080p and a frame rate of 24 of 30 fps. But if you plan on doing slow-motion effects, you will need to crank up the frame rate to at least 60 fps (preferably 120 or 240 fps if your camera supports that).
4. Take video editing seriously
Once you are done filming you are actually just half-way through your job. All videos need to be edited, and that alone can take just as much time as the filming did. Don’t skip this step because this is where all the magic happens. This is where you make your videos stand out from the crowd.
Video Editing Software
There’s an entire debate about which editing software is better, but it all really comes down to a matter of personal preference. When you are editing for Instagram, pretty much any software will have all the features you will need.
If you are editing on a computer (which we recommend) you can try out iMovie, VSDC or Lightworks which are all free and will offer most of the options you need. If you are more serious about your edits, you can get your hands on Premiere Pro or Vegas Pro which will cost around $200 – $300.
If you are after a quicker editing process there are mobile apps which work really well, too. In that case, consider iMovie which will let you cut and stitch your video easily, you can add transitions, audio, and filters.
For the Android users out there, check out Quik, which is really fast and easy to use as the name suggests. You literally can have your video done with just a few taps.
When you are editing specifically for Instagram, fast-paced videos tend to perform well. Since you only have 60 seconds to showcase everything, a quick pace allows you to fit more footage in less time.
So it’s a good idea to try to pack as many different shots as you can in your Instagram edits and use jump cuts to tighten up your edit. This will make the video more engaging. Make the shots sorter, the edit snappier and sync everything with the beat of the music.
Here’s what we mean.
Export settings for Instagram
If you are editing your Instagram videos on a computer, you need to pay attention to the export settings you’re using when you render your videos.
Instagram doesn’t like big video files so you need to keep your resolution, frame rate and bit rate low. Here are the best settings you can use.
For widescreen videos, the resolution should be 640 x 360 pixels and for square videos use 640 x 640 pixels. Keep the frame rate at 24 fps and the bit rate to a maximum of 4 Mbps. This will keep the video file size really small while keeping the quality as high as it can be for a Standard Definition (SD) video.
5. Instagram Stories
This is one tiny part of the Instagram app which you should be using if you don’t want to miss out anything.
Even though everything you post as an Instagram Story will be gone after 24 hours, it does a great job at keeping your followers updated on your everyday life. Think of it as a mini-vlog that can fit your entire day in just 15 seconds.
You can try making your Instagram Stories out of those Boomerang loop videos, but if you really want to step up your game, you want to treat stories just like any other video you make for Instagram. Just tighten it up even more. Use 1-2 second shots and pack all of them in just 15 seconds so that you have a really small video which highlights whatever you do on a day to day basis. Check out @jessedriftwood. His Instagram Stories are out of this world.
Whatever methods you use, it’s important to use your imagination! It’s fine to copy other people to start, but you’ll have the most success when you share that special vision that only you have.