Video Format for Instagram: In-Feed, Stories, IGTV, and Ads

According to Shutterstock, Instagram’s advertising revenue has increased dramatically in the past few years totaling in at about 20 billion in 2019. This is over 31 times more than it’s annual revenue of .63 billion dollars in 2015.

This makes Instagram one of the top platforms for marketing for companies trying to target young, trendy, and global audiences with their products and services. Because there is so much potential for profit in IG, you can bet that brands are competing to put out the best advertising content they can create.

At the same time, video is huge right now, and it’s only expected to get more popular in the coming years. By the end of 2020, 82% of global Internet traffic will be video streaming and download.

Instagram is a great place to use video marketing; Hootsuite reports that 1 billion people use Instagram every month, and 500 million use it every day. In addition, 88% of these users are located outside of the United States, and 71% of them are under the age of 35.

Furthermore, the number of videos created daily has quadrupled since 2017. So by using Instagram as a tool in your marketing plan, you have the chance to reach a huge, international audience of young people every single day, and they want to see your video content.

Just keep in mind that you’re not the only business marketing to this audience through this platform, so you’ll need to find a way to stand out.

One way to NOT get noticed is to format and upload Instagram videos incorrectly. There is so much video content available on Instagram, no user is going to waste their time watching a video that isn’t done well.

So save yourself some time and money and start your Instagram video marketing strategy off on the right foot using the best video formats. 

Instagram Video Format Parameters Explained

Before we dive into the exact specs for each Instagram video type, here is a quick guide for each parameter we’ll cover. 

  • Video Format

The video format is a file format for storing digital video data on a computer. You can see a video file’s format by checking its extension;  the last three letters after the period in the file name. The most popular video formats for online video platforms are MP4, FLV, and WMV due to their relatively small sizes. 

  • Video Codec

A video codec is used to compress a video (when recording) and decompress it (during playback) to reduce file size. The compressed video is then stored using a file format. H.264, MPEG-4, and DivX are some popular codecs you’ve probably used.

  • Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio refers to the width of the video in relation to its height. For example, 4:3 aspect ration means the video is 4 units high and 3 units wide. Also, 16:9 aspect ration means your video is 16 units high and 9 units wide. A video’s aspect ratio has nothing to do with its physical size.

  • Resolution

Video resolution is the physical size of your picture. It is determined by the number of pixels in one frame. A standard 1280 x 720 HD resolution has 1280 pixels across the breadth and 720 pixels along the height of the video, over 920,000 pixels. A higher resolution, such as 1920 x 1080 Full HD, will have wider and higher dimensions, and way more pixels.

  • Frame Rate

A video is a series of multiple still images called frames. The frame rate is the frequency that those images appear on the screen. 30 FPS means 30 frames are displayed on screen every second.

  • Bitrate

A video’s bitrate is the amount of data that is encoded in a video per second. It is expressed in megabits per second. The higher the bit rate, the higher the quality and file size of your video. Two videos can have the same resolution but different bitrates. Resolution is determined by the number of pixels in a frame of the video while bitrate is the average size of a video file per second. For instance, the bitrate for a 1080p video with 60 fps is about 12Mbps.

  • Video Length

Video length is, of course, the length of the video, measured in second or minutes. Most Instagram videos are short, so except you’re uploading to IGTV, we recommend you keep it short and sweet.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of Instagram video format, let’s view the following formatting parameters for each type of Instagram video:

In-Feed Videos

Instagram video format - in-feed

The following are the standard formatting requirements for in-feed Instagram videos, according to Engage Interactive:

  • Preferred format: MP4 (with H.264 Codec & AAC audio, 3,500 kbps video bitrate)
  • Frame rate: 30 FPS or below
  • Maximum dimensions: 1080px Wide
  • Playback length: maximum of 60 seconds
  • File size limit: 15MB

Adam Buchanan, the senior designer with Engage Interactive, recommends “work[ing] within a square sized 1080px video using a 30fps frame rate.” If you stay within these parameters, your video will be formatted correctly for Instagram, Facebook, AND Twitter and you won’t need to waste time reformatting it to use on different platforms.

Engage Interactive’s take on in-feed formatting is correct, but it’s also a little restrictive. Sendible also lists in-feed formatting instructions that are similar to the ones listed above, but they leave a little more wiggle room for users. Sendible recommends the following formatting guidelines:

  • Format: MOV or MP4
  • Audio codec: AAC, 48khz sample rate maximum, 1 or 2 channels (mono or stereo)
  • Video codec: HEVC or H264, progressive scan, closed GOP, 4:2:0 chroma subsampling
  • Frame rate: 23-60 FPS
  • Picture size:
    • Maximum columns (horizontal pixels): 1920
    • Minimum aspect ratio [cols / rows]: 4 / 5
    • Maximum aspect ratio [cols / rows]: 16 / 9
  • Bitrate: VBR, 5Mbps maximum
  • Duration: 60 seconds maximum, 3 seconds minimum
  • File size limit: 100MB

*Sendible does note that MOV videos occasionally fail to post and so they’re not as reliable as MP4 videos.

Instagram Stories

Instagram video format - stories

Instagram stories are viewed vertically and follow the same dimensions as a typical smartphone screen.

The maximum length of an Instagram story is 15 seconds. Even though the length is restricted, you can still use stories for advertising purposes; just realize the time limitations and create short ads that quickly and clearly communicate your goal(s).

Consider using stories as a teaser; get people interested in your content and then direct them to your website or blog to see further content.

Shutterstock recommends using the following parameters for Instagram Stories.

  • Format: MP4
  • File size: try to stay under 15MB
  • Duration: 15 seconds per individual Story
  • Dimensions: 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Aspect ratio: 9:16

IGTV

Instagram video format - IGTV

According to Instagram, the following requirements must be met in order to upload a video to IGTV:

  • Duration: The video must be between 15 seconds and 10 minutes long.
    • The maximum duration when uploading an IGTV video from a mobile phone is 15 minutes, but you can upload up to 60 minutes of video from the web.
  • Format: MP4
  • Aspect ratio: 9:16
  • Frame rate: 30 FPS minimum
  • Resolution: 720 pixels minimum
  • File size limit: 650MB for videos up to 10 minutes
    • 3.6GB for videos up to 60 minutes

Note on Editing: IGTV cover photos cannot be edited after they’ve been uploaded. The recommended size for cover photos is 420px by 654px (or 1:1.55 ratio).

You can edit your video’s title and description after it’s been uploaded, but you have to do it from a computer, not from a mobile device. To edit your IGTV video’s title and description: 

  • Open Instagram on your computer
  • Go to your profile and click IGTV
  • Open the video you want to edit
  • Click the in the top right and select “Edit”
  • Make your changes, and click “Done”

In order to upload a video to IGTV, you first have to create a channel. Just like on mainstream TV, a channel is where your audience will go to view your video content. Click here for step by step directions on how to upload a video to IGTV.

This post by Instagram explains how you can share an IGTV video to your story.

Ads

Instagram video format - ads

If you’re thinking about creating video advertisements for Instagram, you’re on the road to success. Video marketing is huge right now, and Instagram has an incredibly high rate of engagement. Combine that audience engagement with the lights, sound, and motion that go along with videography, and you’ve got a marketing recipe that’s sure to help your business increase brand awareness, grow your audience, and sell more products.

One reason why video ads work so well is that they blend seamlessly into the customer’s newsfeed. Oftentimes it’s hard to tell the difference between an ad and a general post, so it’s a more natural and authentic way to reach your audience. Keep this in mind when creating your video; you want it to blend in, so avoid promoting your brand too much.

Consider the following tips when creating video advertisements for Instagram:

Tip 1. Engage your audience in the first 3 seconds of the video

If your audience doesn’t think the video is relevant in the first 3 seconds of it playing, they’re going to keep scrolling. You need to use the beginning of the video to spark their attention and also show them how the ad is going to be relevant to them.

Use bright colors and lots of movement so it’s easy to tell that it’s a video and not a still image. This is not the time to be subtle; make it clear what your video is about and do it in a loud way. Additionally, we did an experiment where we tested whether or not stickers make a video ad more engaging. See the results here!

Tip 2. Use text

We’ve already established that most users watch videos without sound, and Instagram videos are muted by default, so include text to make sure no one misses out on your message.

You don’t necessarily have to caption everything that’s being said; some strategically placed text that conveys the general theme and goal of the video can work wonders. Colorful, dynamic text that moves is a great way to catch your audience’s attention while also highlighting the main points of your advertisement.  Try not to include too much text; you don’t want to overwhelm your audience or for your video to seem cluttered.

Tip 3. Set a goal

What are you trying to accomplish with your video? Do you want to grow your audience? Increase brand awareness? Demonstrate how to use a new product? Promote an upcoming event?

Set a clear goal and return back to it often to avoid getting off track. You only have a short amount of time to get your message across before you lose your audience, so don’t waste time talking about anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. A short, 30-60 second video is only enough time to accomplish one goal, so don’t bite off more than you can chew. Remember who your target audience is, and tailor your content to them.

Tip 4. Be creative

You want your video to blend into the newsfeed seamlessly, so try to avoid it looking too much like an ad.

You’re also competing with thousands of other businesses to get your advertisement noticed, so try to think outside the box! Why should a user spend their time watching your ad and not someone else’s? Communicate quickly how your ad is relevant to them, but do it in a natural and authentic way.

Tip 5. Include a clear call-to-action

Wordstream recommends simplifying your call to action as much as possible. Users want content that they can read and understand as quickly as possible, so chances are they’re not going to click on your “link in bio” after viewing a video ad.

Put your whole message in the advertisement and make the CTA as clear as possible; if you want your audience to “learn more”, include a button immediately in the ad that will take them to your webpage where the additional information exists.

Don’t ask them to go to your story, then to a different landing page only to ultimately end up on your website- you’ll lose them long before they get to that endpoint.

Tip 6. Test out your video on an audience

It’s never a bad idea to create different versions of your advertisement and then A/B test them out on a sample of your audience. It’s an extra step, and it takes a little more time, but it will save you time in the long run. Track your analytic data for both ads and see which one has a higher conversion rate.

It doesn’t hurt to ask for customer feedback either; see what they have to say about your music and visuals. Are they understanding your message? Is the call to action clear and uncomplicated? Between the data and the feedback, you should be able to get a clear picture of which version of your ad will be more successful.

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Instagram Ads Video Specs

Now that you have an idea of the steps to take in creating a video ad for Instagram, it’s important to note the proper specs as well. Hootesuite’s Ad Espresso recommends the following guidelines when choosing the best video format for Instagram:

Vertical Video

  • Resolution: 600 x 750
  • Aspect ratio: 4:5
  • Max size & length: 4 GB/60 seconds

Landscape Video

  • Resolution: 600 x 315
  • Aspect ratio: 1:91:1
  • Max size & length: 4 GB/60 seconds

Square video

  • Resolution: 600 x 600
  • Aspect ratio: 1:1
  • Max size & length: 4 GB/60 seconds

Instagram Video Formatting FAQs

What is the best video format for Instagram?

The best Instagram video format for any type of video is MP4 with H.264 codec and AAC audio.

How to change a video’s format to MP4?

Upload your video to wave.video and download it as an MP4 video.

How do I change the aspect ratio of an Instagram video?

Wave.video has multiple Instagram aspect ratio presets you can use for your video. From the editor, you can choose different aspect ratios for other social platforms like YouTube or Facebook.

What is the max video size for Instagram?

You can upload up to 3.6GB of video to Instagram through IGTV. Instagram feed videos are capped at 15mb. 

How do I post a long video on Instagram?

You can upload up to 60 minutes of video on Instagram by uploading it to IGTV from the web.

How to Increase Instagram Video Quality

Instagram compresses your video in order to reduce the file size, but it also reduces the quality. Do this to get the best video quality:

  • Shoot at higher qualities, 4K and 60 FPS if possible.
  • Transfer files safely without compressing through AirDrop, Dropbox, or USB cable
  • Edit with proper settings in mind
  • Export to recommended specs

Wrapping Up

Instagram is the perfect marketing platform for anyone looking to grow their brand and/or connect with a large audience of young people; it’s great for finding new customers, reconnecting with old ones, and retargeting users in order to drive sales.

This platform offers several different ways to incorporate video marketing as well. We suggest using a combination of in-feed videos, story videos, and video advertisements in order to gain as many benefits as possible.

Plan your campaign ahead of time so you can stay on track with your goals, and make sure to track your conversion rate and other types of analytic data so you know if your marketing strategy needs to be amended. If you’re not sure how to get started, check out this article from our blog!

video format for Instagram

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