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Instagram Video: The Ultimate Guide to Feed Videos, Stories, Lives, and Reels

Instagram Tips & Resources

Instagram Video: The Ultimate Guide to Feed Videos, Stories, Lives, and Reels


By Monique Thomas

Updated on February 16, 2022

8 minute read

ICYMI: It’s time to add video to your Instagram strategy this year.

Published February 16, 2022

Stay on top of the biggest social media marketing trends!

Between Reels, Stories, and Lives, Instagram video is having a major moment – and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. 

Instagram’s Adam Mosseri shared that one of the platform’s priorities in 2022 will be to double-down on video, commenting that it’s “no longer just a photo-sharing app.” 

The takeaway? Video content on Instagram – love it or hate it – is here to stay. 

To help you create your own, we’re breaking down each Instagram video format along with tips and best practices.  

Plus, we’ll show you how to schedule your Instagram videos – for free!

Instagram Video: Formats, Specs, and Dimensions (+ Infographic!)

There are four main Instagram video formats, each with their own recommended specs and dimensions:

  1. Instagram Stories

  2. Instagram Feed Videos

  3. Instagram Reels

  4. Instagram Lives 

an infographic of specs and sizes for each Instagram video format

Instagram Video Format #1: Instagram Stories Specs and Dimensions 

Instagram Stories are the shortest video format, and disappear after 24 hours (unless you save them to an Instagram Stories Highlight). 

Stories can be used for daily, informal, and conversational content. They also have an array of stickers you can use to interact with your community. 

How long can Instagram Stories be? 

  • 15 seconds. However, Instagram is currently testing extending them to 60 seconds. Watch this space! 

Instagram Stories Specs and Dimensions:

  • Recommended Aspect Ratio: 9:16

  • Recommended Dimensions: 1080 x 1920 pixels

Brands Who’ve Nailed Their Instagram Stories Strategy:

  • The Villij frequently uses the poll and question sticker to gather feedback or learn more about their community 

  • Nice Day Pilates uses their Stories to give a BTS look of their studio space, classes, and instructors 

The Villij shares high quality content on their Instagram stories

TIP: To help make your Stories more engaging, check out our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Stories.

Instagram Video Format #2: Instagram Feed Videos Dimensions and Specs

Instagram recently merged IGTV and Feed videos into one single format – providing a clearer distinction between Reels.

These videos live directly on your grid – and similar to Reels, they now have their own tab on your profile.

Depending on the type of content you’re sharing (BTS, an interview, a product launch), videos can be shared weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. 

How long can Instagram feed videos be?

  • 60 minutes! Perfect for longform content. 

Instagram Video Specs and Dimensions:

  • Recommended Aspect Ratio: 1.91:1 and 9:16

  • Maximum File Size: 650MB for videos 10 minutes or less

  • Maximum File Size: 3.6GB for videos up to 60 minutes

Brands Who Have Engaging Instagram Feed Videos:

Cheese by Numbers and Topicals create engaging Instagram feed videos

TIP: With Later’s scheduling tools you can easily plan and schedule your Instagram content – in just a few clicks!  

Instagram Video Format #3: Instagram Reels Dimensions and Specs

Instagram Reels are short, vertical videos that are great for reaching new eyes – especially via the dedicated Reels feed. 

As the newest Instagram video format, it’s the perfect testing ground! 

Start experimenting with Reels content once or twice a week to see what resonates with your target audience. Who knows, you might go viral.

How Long Can Instagram Reels be?

  • 60 seconds, but try to keep them on the shorter side. 

Instagram Reel Specs and Dimensions:

  • Recommended Aspect Ratio: 9:16

  • Recommended Dimensions: 1080 x 1920 pixels

Brands Who Have Scroll-stopping Reels:

  • Mala the Brand educates their target audience – whether it’s how to trim your candle wick or removing wax from your jar 

  • The Score covers everything from hot takes to memes about what’s happening in major sports leagues 

Examples of Instagram Reels from Mala the Brand and The Score

TIP: Our Ultimate Guide to Reels has everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Reels – all wrapped up in one place. 

Instagram Video Format #4: Instagram Live Specs and Dimensions 

Instagram Lives are unedited videos streamed in real-time that can then be saved and shared on your feed. 

They’re great for connecting with your community on a more personal level, but depending on your capacity, could be done monthly, bi-monthy, or quarterly. 

How Long Can Instagram Lives be?

  • 4 hours – have fun!

Instagram Live Specs and Dimensions:

  • Recommended Aspect Ratio: 9:16

  • Recommended Dimensions: 1080 x 1920 pixels

Brands With Educational and/or Entertaining Instagram Lives: 

  • Cocokind’s founder, Priscilla Tsai, frequently goes Live to talk about their products, answer questions, and promote their sales  

  • Arcade Studios has a series where they share social media news and trends in short 15-minute episodes

Cocokind and Arcade Studios founders go live on Instagram

TIP: Need help setting up your first Instagram Live? Read our step-by-step guide

Our Top Instagram Video Tips & Tricks

Now that you know what dimensions you’ll need for each video format, it’s time to start brainstorming ideas, storyboarding, and filming content!

Keep these tips in mind: 

  1. Create High Quality Video Content

  2. Tell a Story

  3. Show Up on Camera

  4. Use Captions and/or Subtitles 

Tip #1: Create High Quality Video Content 

Whether it’s Instagram Stories or Reels, posting high quality content is easier for users to consume. 

In other words: blurry, low-res videos are out. Luckily, you can film professional-looking videos right at home! 

Take the Later team for example – we film tons of video content without the use of expensive equipment:

Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • A good camera – this can be your smartphone, webcam, or laptop camera. Don’t forget a tripod too!

  • Bright lighting – sit somewhere that gets bright, natural light, or invest in a ring light.

  • Clear audio – record in a quiet area or buy an external microphone. 

For more tips on creating high quality content without breaking the bank, bookmark this post: How to Set Up a Home Video Studio

Tip #2: Tell a Story 

The goal of every video on Instagram is to either: entertain, educate, or inspire your audience. 

But with short attention spans, you have to hook viewers in right away and keep them interested. 

You can hook them in by asking a question, like Sarah Louise

Or you can answer FAQs, similar to Elena of @thishouse5000

You can even create intrigue with a thought-provoking quote. StyleLikeU frequently does this with their series content: 

Then, take viewers on a journey – even if it’s only 10 seconds long. 

FYI: Later’s scheduler lets you plan, schedule, and publish your Instagram videos for free. It’ll take you less than five minutes to sign up: 

Tip #3: Show Up On Camera 

We get it – showing up on camera can be nerve wracking. 

But it can help to personalize your brand and build trust with viewers.

Start with Instagram Stories to grow your confidence. Stories can be informal and interactive, so think of yourself as having a conversation with a friend:

LexNiko uses Instagram stories to connect with her followers

If you don’t want to do it solo, consider co-hosting an Instagram Live with another person to do a product demo, share industry news, or discuss a topic of interest:

TIP: Try storyboarding or drafting a loose script before you press record. You can also prep for your Instagram Lives with the new “Practice Mode” feature

Tip #4: Use Captions and/or Subtitles 

With many people watching videos without sound, using captions and subtitles are a no brainer.

And even better, they make your videos more accessible to those who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

While Instagram Stories has an auto-captioning sticker, it isn’t perfect. So remember to review and edit them before you post:

Later media uses the captions sticker to make Instagram videos accessible

Alternatively, you can use a third-party app to generate captions for your videos or manually add on-screen text overlays that summarize your key points like James Jones

TIP: Use clear font colors, or take it a step further and add a solid background color to your subtitles so they’re easier to read.

How to Post a Video on Instagram with Later 

You can schedule and auto publish Instagram feed videos with Later – and it’s available on all plans. Here’s how:

Step-by-step process of adding a video to your Later Media Library, optimizing it, and scheduling.

Step #1: Connect Instagram Business or Creator Profile

When you sign up for Later, you can connect your Instagram Business, Creator, or Personal profile. 

However, due to Instagram’s API limitations, each profile type has access to different Later feature – which is why we recommend using an Instagram Business or Creator profile.

For the sake of the remaining steps, we’ll assume you have an Instagram Business profile. 

Step #2: Upload Content to Later’s Media Library and Select Your Publishing Channel

Click “Upload Media” on Later’s desktop app and add videos from your computer, Dropbox, or Google Drive. 

Select Instagram as your publishing channel and drag and drop a video from your Media Library to your Calendar. 

Step #3: Optimize and Edit Your Instagram Video 

Write your caption, include relevant emojis (if applicable), and insert relevant hashtags to help maximize your reach and engagement. 

Tap “Edit Video” to add some additional design elements to your post – including the crop and trim tools. 

Click “Save Video.” 

Step #4: Choose the Date and Time to Schedule Your Instagram Video

If you have an Instagram Business profile, select “Auto Publish” from the dropdown list and select the date and time you want your post to go live. 

Click “Save” – and you’re all set!

Instagram video content is slowly becoming more and more integrated on the platform – whether it’s feeds full of Reels, nonstop Stories, or monthly Lives. 

So if you want to build brand awareness, promote your products, or connect with your community, videos can be a surefire way to drum up engagement and reach more eyes. 

Ready to get started? Schedule and publish your Instagram video content with Later today:

Stay on top of the biggest social media marketing trends!

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