Instagram: understanding the different video formats and their interests

September 23, 2023

Make video easy and more accessible. It is with these few words that we can summarize the objective of Instagram. In October 2023, the social network decided once again to modify the presentation of its features. No more IGTVs which never really found their place. The team has brought together all formats, long and short, with a single name: Instagram Video.


To encourage users to watch them and get into the habit of doing so, these videos have undergone a few modifications:

- the preview time in the news feed increases from 15 to 30 seconds,

- To view the video in full, you no longer need to go to another page. Just click on the video to put it in full screen and enjoy the content,

- analytical data for videos is grouped in one place,

- once on the video, it is possible to scroll up to discover other videos,

- the options have been redesigned: new filters, new editing tool, possibility of tagging and locating content.

Instagram wants to become “a destination for people who want to watch video”. The algorithm offers users the possibility of viewing content corresponding to them. Videos are personalized to you, making it easier to discover and watch content from creators you subscribe to or might be interested in.

What exactly does Instagram Video include? Behind these terms, the team wanted to bring together all of its video formats. Reels and IGTV have merged to keep only one format. For the rest, the stories or lives have not changed for the moment. The objective is above all to take an important place in the creation and consumption of video. “By 2021, mobile videos will represent 78% of total mobile data traffic,” underlines Instagram.

With all of these formats, it’s easy to get lost. What are the different video features? Why is it more interesting to go for a long Reels rather than a short one? Or to a story? Or towards a live performance? In this complete guide, we analyze each of the platform's video formats to give you all their specificities and help you make your choice.

Video formats on Instagram

Since 2016, with the arrival of Stories, Instagram has entered video. Since then, almost every year, a new feature has emerged:

- the lives in 2017,

- IGTVs in 2018,

- the Reels in 2021.

To get a clearer idea of ​​what to use, here is an overview of each of these features.

Instagram video, short and long content

Let's start with Instagram video. Under this name, as you will have understood, Instagram has brought together both its short videos, Reels, and its long videos, IGTV. Users can post content ranging from a few seconds to an hour. The recommended format is vertical so that the video image takes up the entire screen and is more pleasant to watch.

This content must be immersive so that the person watching is truly transported into a universe. By developing these options, Instagram wanted to compete directly with other applications: the short format with TikTok and the long format with YouTube. The goal is to be the application that we open when we want to watch video.

To discover this different content, subscribers see it appear in their news feed, in the discovered pages or even on the profiles of content creators and brands. Two tabs are present on the accounts: one dedicated to Reels and the other to longer videos.

With this grouped functionality, Instagram is banking on the creativity of its users. To stand out from the others, you have to imagine an original concept that you can adapt endlessly to always have an idea of ​​content. What are the concrete advantages of this format when creating a publication? Here are some ideas that can help you know whether or not this format is right for you:

- Instagram videos remain over time: unlike stories, the content is not deleted after 24 hours,

- the videos can be long to go in-depth into the subject or shorter to focus more on entertainment,

- the short and long formats can complement each other: the first serves as a teaser, is designed to make you want to see the second at greater length. The short format can also be used to interest your audience about the release of a new product or a new collaboration. The challenge is to attract the attention of as many users as possible in a few seconds.

- Instagram videos are part of the editorial line of the account: they complement other types of content posted online such as publications, carousels or even guides. They allow users to communicate differently with their audience,

- it is a video: users can stage what they have to say by showing it with images. This space leaves endless creativity to people who want to get started thanks to the development of editing tools where it is possible to add music, effects or even text.

Please note: Reels can now be created on Facebook in the news feed and groups. The application allows its users in the United States to have access to its editing tool.

With these long and short formats, users have developed real series.

Tatiana, aka Tinka, for example, imagined video interviews with content creators. They are grouped under the name “Les apartés de Tinka”:

Content creators regularly use them to highlight a product they have tested and provide the link. This way, their subscribers can find it at any time.

Lives on Instagram

Since confinement, the live format on Instagram has seen a real resurgence of interest. This feature was designed for one goal: to make it easier for subscribers and users to connect. Since March 2021, it is even possible to do four-person live broadcasts. Users are, however, only allowed to be live for one hour. For people who missed the meeting, the live can be transformed into IGTV. It therefore remains accessible on the profile.

Unlike Instagram videos, these lives are a unique event. To experience this moment of sharing, users have no other choice than to be present to ask their questions or react to a subject on which the brand or the influencer is speaking. The challenge for them is to interest as many people as possible in the space of an hour. This is why these lives must be prepared and focus on at least one subject (a debate of ideas, the presentation of a new product, etc.).

Why should users follow these lives on Instagram more closely? For several reasons in our opinion:

- these live streams allow you to connect more with your community. During confinement, content creator Sissy Mua offered one live per day on a sports workout she had imagined. His unique meeting has sometimes allowed him to bring together up to 90,000 people live at the same time. Today, this community is more united than ever.

- these exchanges are natural. The people who speak on screen do not hide their hesitations behind editing or music. They show themselves as they are, authentic.

- these directs can turn into a real meeting. It is therefore possible to leave one each week to discuss a very specific subject. And this hour is 100% dedicated to your community.

- These lives are also a way to discover in a different way who is behind an account.

Please note: Instagram lives were developed to compete with platforms like Twitch or tools like YouTube Live. In order to attract as many people as possible, Instagram has “gamified” this tool. Users can thus launch questions/answers, react to others' lives while being more visible thanks to paid options. We no longer come just to chat, we come above all to have fun.

To give you an example of a well-thought-out live stream, we can look at what is happening on Amazon Prime. The French account launched a unique meeting entitled “We express ourselves”. Every week, comedian Axel Lattuada invites a personality to speak on a social subject. These lives are then transformed into videos on the profile.

Stories on Instagram

How can we not finish this overview of video formats on Instagram without talking about stories? This option on the platform is by far the most used by content creators and brands. Launched almost five years ago, this feature doesn't seem to be wearing off yet. Quite the contrary! In recent years, influencers have focused on working more on this content by sharing ever more creative images. To see this, just look at the number of wise tips revealed on Pinterest for successful stories.

What makes Instagram Stories different from other content? Here is a list of what is important to know:

- Stories are ephemeral content. After 24 hours, the images disappear. To avoid missing anything, users are encouraged to watch as much as possible during the day.

- Stories rely on spontaneity. As with live shows, there is generally no editing. Users can hide behind a filter, but the objective of this tool is to position themselves in the present moment: we will come and share the moment we are experiencing.

- Stories offer an easy space to chat on a day-to-day basis with your community. The application has thought of different options to facilitate these interactions via surveys, questions and answers, etc. Users appropriate these tools to communicate with their subscribers.

With this format, Instagram clearly competes with Snapchat. This application has made stories its main format.

Please note: Featured stories appear on the profile when a user has decided to keep them for longer than 24 hours. Well arranged and thought out, this content is a real plus for accounts. New subscribers discover important moments they missed. Generally, content creators provide information about their product tests or their trips. As for brands, it is more interesting to put stories presenting their values ​​and products.

Conclusion on videos on Instagram

If there was only one word to remember from these different options on Instagram, it would be “creativity”. The platform pushes its users to surpass themselves to be more discovered. To do this, today they have the opportunity to test a complete range of tools. From short and long videos, to lives and stories, Instagram has diversified at breakneck speed.

The path that the platform wishes to take in the coming months seems quite clear. If in its beginnings Instagram was a photo application, today it is positioned more as a space where we create and consume video. Will users be receptive to the desires of the social network? Let's wait a few months to discover how users will appropriate and adapt to the new requirements of the platform. Are you impatient like us?

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