In a world where YouTube has become the primary platform for video distribution and media streaming, one social media platform took a stand against the great red play button: Instagram. While Vimeo has become the professional standard for video hosting, Twitch the gamer’s streaming paradise, and TikTok the short-form trendy-dance-challenge destination, Instagram has launched a new platform that will challenge YouTube directly. In 2021, Instagram unveiled its latest feature: Instagram Videos, its own video storing and sharing platform. Just like Youtube, except that it’s not.
In the summer of 2021, Instagram said “we’re not just a square photo-sharing app anymore.” They clearly realize that people come to their platform to be entertained and video is much more entertaining than still images. You may be thinking, “isn’t that why they have Instagram Stories?” Instagram Videos is basically like an Instagram Story but designed for longer-form video. The maximum video length is 60 minutes, with the minimum falling at 15 seconds. Additionally, these Instagram Videos are displayed in the main feed, rather than requiring a tap on the top banner.
In essence, Instagram Videos is vertical video, designed for your phone. It’s like the sleek trendy cousin of YouTube, and it might just give the established video platform and dance-centric social media a run for their money—literally. Again, you may be thinking, “isn’t that what Instagram Reels is?” Well, yes and no. Reels are 15-30 second vertical videos with a dedicated tab on a user’s profile. An obvious copycat of TikTok’s model, but slightly different than Instagram Videos.
Before we get too far down the rabbit hole here, we need to address one more video-focused Instagram product: IGTV. Remember IGTV? Touted as Instagram’s “YouTube killer,” this feature was launched around the same time TikTok expanded to the US. However, TikTok featured only short-form content and with its powerful algorithm, usurped what would have likely been IGTV users.
But before we get too excited, let’s look at some pros and cons of Instagram Videos.
1. Monetizing Content
Perhaps the greatest challenge Instagram faces is partnering with creators to profitably monetize their content and encourage them to continue producing it. Instagram Videos doesn’t have all the pre-roll and mid-video ad placements that we’re accustomed to seeing on YouTube. Instagram places ads in the scrolling feed and the Stories feed, but not in the middle of many of its creators’ videos. While this may seem like low-hanging fruit (because, hey, YouTube already does it), there are good reasons why Instagram would leave ads out of videos.
For comparison, YouTube videos are searched for and then watched – the viewer has an intent and the vide has a title and description. The viewer really knows what to expect when watching on YouTube. Instagram Videos is different in that the viewer may not know if the video they’re watching is going to be funny, entertaining, or informational until they start watching it. For this reason, pre-roll ads would certainly reduce video views, frustrating creators.
2. Platform Updates
Content creators should be quite familiar to new and changing features in platforms and their respective algorithms. Those that went all in on IGTV, Twitter Fleets, etc., only end up heartbroken and exhausted after the platform decided to kill those features. One of the best ways to mitigate the fallout from an event like this is to host your content on a platform that you own. Yes, you can still deliver content via social media and build your audience there, but having your own website ensures that your audience and content isn’t all lost at the whims of a social media platform.
3. Those “In-Between” Moments
Instagram has long capitalized on its nature as a “distraction” app. YouTube’s content often requires some sort of engagement, whether that’s wearing headphones, turning your screen horizontally, or simply just maintaining your unbroken attention while the app takes over your screen. On the other hand, everyone is on IG, Twitter, or Facebook while they’re stuck doing something else: standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for Uber, or only halfway-listening to a professor. Vertical video lends itself well to this sort of casual viewing that occurs with less intentionality than YouTube often requires.
What does this new format mean for the creators themselves? As far as production goes, many young social media influencers have begun to forge this new style of filmmaking already. It’s gritty, unpolished, and often charmingly real in a way many people find engaging. Gone are the days of Hollywood glamour; audiences are now much more interested in seeing someone just like themselves on screen, acne, giggles, and misspeaking included. This is actually a plus for creators because it means they can produce videos their audience can enjoy without a full production team or hours in the editing booth.
The upside here is that the video technology (native and third-party) for Instagram continues to improve and get more interesting. Now, creators can add filters, stickers, interactive polls, music, and annotations to their videos easily. This gives a slightly more polished look while also increasing engagement.
5. Camera work
Vertical video will perhaps pose the greatest challenge for video creators accustomed to the horizontal style of filming. The frame is smaller across, and there’s not a lot that can happen across the screen at one time.
Hot Dog Marketing’s multimedia producer Neil noted about the change, “it will be an interesting challenge for producers to adjust their thinking to a vertical aspect ratio… A lot of people will have to re-visualize.”
Dialogues can prove challenging without the proper editing, and all video must be shot and edited differently for Instagram Videos. While you don’t NEED a video production team, it certainly helps to have some experts in your corner to produce content that your audience values. Our multimedia team can help you with a video content strategy and execution that will amaze your viewers.
With all these changes in how video is shot, edited, and presented to the audience, it will be fascinating to see how the world catches on to this new medium. Already, content creators around the world have jumped on board and are filling Instagram Videos with video of well, everything. From NASA to the food network, makeup artists to workout gurus, everyone is trying it out.
Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said, “At Instagram we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now we’re focused on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging.”— in this post, we discussed how video is changing, what do you think is coming for shopping and messaging?
Abigail is a writer and editor creating engaging, narrative-driven content for clients in the legal services, finance, and SaaS industries. She appreciates the smaller and scalier things in life, like snakes and snails, and will always want to pet your cat.