You may have already heard that in 2014, Instagram was named the fastest growing social media platform.  Even so, only 20% of the US population currently uses Instagram.  So why bother creating video for Instagram.

There is a number of marketers who believe our attention spans for video are shrinking drastically.  Instagram allows up to 15 seconds of video.  And while I disagree that we have no attention span, I do think testing out messaging and approaches on Instagram is a good idea.

Not only do you get relatively instant feedback, but if there is a good response to your video, you can share it on Facebook, your website and in your newsletter.

But what kind of video should you create?  What do people want to watch on that platform?  And what can you produce for a reasonable budget.

Because remember, traditionally 15 second television commercial spots cost companies 100s of thousands of dollars, if not more.

Just because the video will live on Instagram and only runs 15 seconds doesn’t mean you can post just anything and people will watch.  

In my experience, it might be even more difficult to get someone to watch a video on Instagram than on YouTube.  YouTube is designed for video and people are going there voluntarily.  Instagram is designed for photos and viewers have to take an extra step to watch and then one more step to watch AND listen.

Here are Three Types of Instagram Videos Your Audiences will Love

What are people enjoying on Instagram these days?  Videos that provide inspiration; videos that let your audience imagine how they will enjoy using your product; videos that show them how your product will make their lives better; videos that show people they want to be like, so they feel like using your product they will be closer to other like minded people.

Oh my gosh, that seems like a tall order for 15 seconds!  

Well, yes and no.  Let’s dive into examples of brands using these techniques. 

The three types of Instagram videos that I’ll focus on include:

  • Location
  • Product Demo
  • Event Recap


What this is:  Shots of your store, of your neighborhood, of your city, of a city where your product is available - beautifully shot images of a location that is significant to your brand.

Why I love this:  Those people who have opted in to your Instagram account did so because they love your brand.  Many of your followers will be from other cities.  And if they are local, maybe they are looking at your feed while they are at work or standing in line.  They will love to see a beautiful shot of the outside or something interesting at your shop because it will provide them a little escape.


A video posted by Burberry (@burberry) on

Burberry On Location:  Burberry has done a few shots of London.  What I love about these shots is that first of all, it looks like they were taken from somebody’s office window, although it might be from the Tate Modern.  That makes the images feel personal to the brand.  Secondly, I love the use of timelapse because it gives the videos a wonderful texture.  And because their fabrics are so texture based, this really represents the brand well.  Timelapse is also much more interesting than a plain shot would have been.  

Nike Shoes Travel:  Nike took their shoes across the globe for this location/product spot.  Each shot beautifully features their shoes in the context of a different international background.  The shots were carefully composed for both content as well as variety.  To top it off, this video gives viewers the opportunity to guess where each shoe was filmed as well as see a wide variety of styles of this shoe.


What this is:  Instagram is not a place to put up explainer videos or to outline all of your product features.  It is an ideal platform to show your audience how they will feel when they use your product and demonstrate how your product will fit into their lives.  At minimum, you can give your audience an idea of what your product is like out of the package and off the web page.

Why I love it:  Video gives you an opportunity to demonstrate difficult to explain concepts.  How easy is it to open your bag so that you can grab a baby bottle while you are standing in line at the grocery store?  You can show it.  How fast is the response time of your new phone app?  You can show that, too, by staging a similar scenario. 


Williams Sonoma Fig Tart:  This example is actually a combination of “how to” and “demo.”  You can see how easy it is to make the dessert featured in the video and while also seeing their pan in action.  

Williams Sonoma Cookbook:  Here you see an animation of their catalogue which is so beautifully designed that when I first saw it I thought it was a cookbook.  It turns out that they did include recipes in their catalogue.  By showing you a variety of beautifully photographed pages, you can imagine for yourself how much you’d enjoy looking through the book in greater detail and exploring the recipes.  This video was inexpensive to produce but had a high amount of engagement.


What this is:  Out of the three, this may be the most time consuming to create.   Event recap videos show highlights of of an event which you held.  Brands have used this as a way of advertising new products, announcing an upcoming event and sharing the excitement of an event that their followers might not have been able to attend but are now able to enjoy vicariously.  Done as a part of a larger project, you might have footage already that can be repurposed for these fun clips. However, if you don’t have budget to fully document your event, with some planning you can get the clips you need and complete the edit somewhat quickly.

Why I love it:  Done right this really gives your followers the opportunity to feel a part of your event.  

Lululemon Event Invitation:  Lululemon did an amazing job of this with this to promote the SeaWheeze ½ Marathon, Yoga event which is happening in Vancouver this August.  This particular event recap video was posted at the end of July to advertising their upcoming event.

Lululemon Event Excitement:  In early August, even though the event was sold out, they posted another version of their 2014 event recap video getting participants and followers alike to get excited about the event.

Burberry Runway:  Burberry has also created some inspiring event recap videos.  Here they show highlights from their Fall Collection Runway event.  What I love about this is they chose to include off the runway moments.  Doing this, they help the viewer to feel like a part of the event.  If they had only showed clips from the runway, the video would have felt like an ad more than an invitation to be a part of the experience.

Mudfoot Fundo:  And because I love cycling I’m including this event recap video for the Mudfoot Fundo (as opposed to Fondo) 100 mile ride.  If you do any kind of endurance sport, or even just go to the gym, you know how important food is to fueling your body.  So I love that they start the video by showing riders standing around fueling up before showing us shots of them heading out on the ride.  It is just a taste of the event, but what nice moments.


Instagram gives you a wonderful platform to experiment with video content and to share moments with your audience.  While the samples I showed you are noteworthy, I’m sure these brands didn’t get it right all the time.  If something you create doesn’t stick, remember you can always take it down and try again.  

My first attempt for my own documentary, Mind the Gap, was a series of DIALOGUES about transit..  People love them.  However, I discovered that interviews are not ideal content for Instagram because people are often looking at Instagram in places where they don't want to tap to hear the sound.  

Alexi shared her thoughts on taking a path less traveled. #dialoguesintransit #walking #sf #transit

A video posted by Mind the Gap (@mindthegapmovie) on

In the end, I’m going to continue this experiment and later combine my microfilms into longer pieces for YouTube (the original plan) while continuing to launch them individually on Instagram and FaceBook.  At the same time, I’m now designing visual films that address the same topic but in a different way.

My biggest recommendation no matter what approach you take, share content that inspires.  

Your audience wants to be inspired.  How can you find or create these moments?  What are you doing that will delight your customers - from little design features to bigger product benefits to small changes to your location? 


To learn how to create these types of videos and more, check out my upcoming course, BITE SIZED VIDEOS.  I’ll be teaching step-by-step approaches to creating Location, How To, Product Demo videos and more as well as providing technical training materials and artistic considerations to take your video work to the next level.  I’ll also be sharing my recommendations on really inexpensive tools so that you can shoot and edit on your iPhone.  And I'll cover recommendations for launching your videos beyond Instagram. Doors open at the end of August.   Sign up now to learn more.