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How to Create Compelling Video Content for Instagram

Originally published September 21, 2020  ·  Updated April 18, 2024
How to Create Compelling Video Content for Instagram

Well, we’ll talk about video content for Instagram.

Video is probably the most popular medium for consumers to get information. Everyone on the go can access a short video, get informed, entertained, and/or inspired, and move on with their daily activities. They don’t want or have time to read walls of tests (ugh!).

Instagram has always been a visual social media platform, long before Facebook acquired it. But since that time, many of the features of Facebook have been added to this platform, including the incorporation of video–as long as it is short.

You may have one minute to capture your audience’s attention, but you can do this! All you need to do is create focused, creative, engaging, and maybe even a bit “off-center” content.

A Classic Example

One of the most famous examples of an engaging explainer marketing video is that of Dollar Shave Club. Take a look at the iconic video from the razor company below:

In less than 90 seconds, the video told the company’s entire story and the value of its product/service to fill a need. It’s funny, and informative, and speaks to its target audience in their own language and tone. And guess what? It cost a total of $2500 to create. Therefore, this video went viral within hours and was the catalyst that launched a multi-million dollar company.

Wouldn’t you love the same results?

I bet you would.

You may not end up with the same results as Dollar Shave Club, but you can substantially increase following, conversions, and sales by creating amazing videos for your Instagram account. 

So, let’s take a look at how you can do just that.

1. What Stories Do You Want to Tell?

Here’s the thing about the video. You can tell a much more complex story than you can with a photo, even a carousel, which used to be so popular on Instagram. You can feature a product, create a “how-to,” tell your company’s story, feature members of your team, show your social responsibility, and more.

Make a list of all of these stories, and keep adding to that list as new ideas pop up.

Remember that you have a goal with each story you tell – brand awareness for potential customers, relationship-building, explanation, education, etc. And each goal should translate into something you want that viewer to do. You need a call to action. Choose a single CTA for each video and make it clear.

2. What Stories Are Your Competitors Telling?

Check out which ones are performing well. How can you tell similar stories about your company and make them even more engaging? Also, check out the most popular videos on Instagram across all industries. You’ll pick up some great ideas.

3. Know The Audience

If you’ve been involved in digital marketing for any amount of time, you understand the importance of crafting content in a style and tone that connects with your audience. 

Obviously, you are not going to talk about “bad-ass” adult diapers to senior citizens. On the other hand, a company like Red Bull can and should use this tone and style. As you write your script and plan for the visual content, be certain that you are true to your brand and your audience.

4. Speaking of the Script

Writing a script is far different than writing a blog post, an ad, an email, or a traditional social media post. First, you have only 60 seconds to get your story out. Every word counts. And those words must exude enthusiasm and energy, unless, of course, you are selling caskets. 

Scriptwriting is an art. So, you may be well advised to find a pro. There are a bunch of online writing services that have script-writing departments. 

You can try Classy Essay or Grab My Essay for starters. There are also freelancer sights, like Upwork. If your budget is tight, these are good options. Or use a free AI-powered writing tool to help you brainstorm, or to make a first outline of your script.

A note here: Sound on Instagram is muted by default. This can be an issue if your viewer doesn’t know to tap the sound button. You can add captions (always good for the hearing-impaired anyway).

In addition, if you’re not sure about writing the script, you can always read more on The Ultimate Cheatsheet to Explainer Video Scripts [INFOGRAPHIC] or download the explainer video script handbook.

5. Who Is/Are the Actor(s)?

If your video is animated or the voice is just background, then you may need voiceovers. If not, you need a live actor. 

Again, these may be jobs you will want to outsource. Voice tone and style must match your brand and your message.

In the Dollar Shave Club video mentioned above, the company owner was the “actor.” Fortunately, he was perfect for the part and pulled it off well. 

Remember, you also need to consider the message and the demographics of your audience as you consider live actors.

Diana Adjadj, Marketing Director for Trust My Paper, uses both animation and real people. “I have found that animation works well for explaining our products and processes. But our audience also wants to see the people behind the company – there’s a trust factor in our industry. So, from time to time, we feature one of our writers – it’s about relationships.”

6. Cover Photo is Critical

When Instagram was only photos, you spent a lot of time creating or finding pictures that “connected” with your target. 

Your video will need a cover photo for your videos too. This photo should capture your video’s larger message and cause scrollers to stop their thumbs and take a second look. 

If you don’t pick one, Instagram will just provide a still shot of your first frame. As a result, you can have a look at Breadnbeyond’s Instagram account.

Now the Technical Parts

If you have a newer smartphone, you have all of the equipment you need to create amazing videos.  Of course, you’ll also want some good editing tools, and there are plenty, even for beginners.

And remember this: while you can certainly outsource the video editing or use the services of a professional video producer, your own can often seem much more genuine – something today’s consumer appreciates.

Here’s how simple this process is, using either of two options:

1. Using a Pre-Recorded Video

Pre-recorded videos are the best way to go for your Instagram content if you want it to be a bit more polished and presentable. Before uploading it, you need to spend more time and effort editing the video to make it even more compelling. 

This type of video is great for building that knows, like, and trust factor with your audience on the platform. Here are some handy ways to create pre-recorded videos on your Instagram:

  • Create the video, edit it, and save it to your library.
  • Open Instagram and click the + sign you will find at the bottom menu.
  • Switch to “videos.” This should open the video library you have on your phone
  • Choose the video you want to post.
  • You’ll get some options for making a square (if not already) filters, and cover photos. Apply these as you wish.
  • You’ll be prompted to write a caption – come up with one that is compelling.
  • You can even add a location. Suppose, for example, you took a video of your team participating in a community charitable activity. Add the location.

If you want to improve the video editing that you want to post on Instagram, we’ve compiled awesome tools to help you out. Check them out: The Complete List of Video Marketing Tools.

2. Live-Streaming On Instagram Live

This is a great option if you want to film something in real-time and add your own narration. Maybe one of your team members is demonstrating the use of a product; maybe your team is on a walk for a charitable cause or you are having a “pet day” at the office.

Since the audience knows that the video happens in real-time, live videos are made for engagement. Your audience can say hello, ask some questions, and more. 

So, here’s how you do it:

  • Open the app
  • Tap the camera icon in the top left of the Feed
  • Scroll to Live at the bottom of the screen, then tap

There you go. Now you’re live.

You will not need editing tools here – it’s all in real-time, and you just want to capture the moment. Although it may hard for some who haven’t tried it before, you can start now to know if it’s good or not for your business.

3. Technical Specs

Instagram has made it easy to shoot your videos directly from your smartphone and then upload them to the platform hassle-free. However, the only issue here is that you need to pay attention to the right Instagram video format, size, shape, and specifications to give your audience a pleasant viewing experience.

So, no matter how brilliant your video content is, if you ignore the technical specs, the audience won’t watch it. 

Keep these in mind:

  • Video format = MP4
  • Length = 3 – 60 seconds
  • Size = no size limit but 50MB is recommended
  • Orientation = square, portrait, or landscape

Have Some Fun!

Finally, creating videos should not be agonizing and stressful. You are not trying to produce a box office hit here. In fact, Instagram videos by nature are pretty casual – viewers expect that. Don’t shoot for perfection – shoot for engagement.

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