Written by Kayleigh Alexandra

Instagram may have been created as a platform for sharing our photography skills, but it has quickly developed — as most social media platforms have — into a home for video content. Video posts, Stories and Instagram Live have transformed the platform from a place for sunset snaps with questionable filter choices into somewhere else to post tutorials, vlog, and interactive streams.

For content marketers pivoting fully to video, this raises the question of how best to leverage the format on Instagram. One of the biggest discussions around video content is what the optimum length is. While there is a place for long-form videos, we would argue that short is sweetest and the key to growth when it comes to Instagram. But why is that the case?

Attention spans

Our attention spans are probably the second biggest losers from the advent of social media, just after our productivity levels. While there is debate around the subject, there’s no doubt that we’ve all become more demanding since Facebook, Twitter and Instagram came into our lives, expecting content to come thick and fast without overstaying its welcome.

This is part of why it’s essential to aim for short-term videos on Instagram. A long video doesn’t play to the conventions of how we use social media. Instagram is generally used in short bursts as a way to pass the time on public transport or while waiting for a friend. It is not something we sit down and dedicate long periods to, which is why little hits of content usually perform best.

Videos that rely on audio will also only entertain a user for so long for this same reason, as people rarely have the time, interest or attention span to commit to something they aren’t able to listen to, even if captions are available.

Short video content plays into the hands of how we consume social media. By using it on Instagram you’ll be appealing to a universally diminished attention span.

Makes content feel more current

The worst thing you can be on social media is out of date. Content that feels current rules the roost and social media is just too fast-moving for anything that feels outdated. If your Instagram content appears old and tired it won’t have the same impact.

Short video content has an inherently more current and immediate feel to it than heavily edited, longer videos. The advent of Instagram stories has given us further indication of what immediate video content looks like on the platform, short videos limited to 10 seconds that disappear after 24 hours. This makes users feel like they are getting an insight into what the person behind the account is doing at that moment, helping them relate to the content.

These principles can be applied to your permanent video posts to give them a more immediate impact as if the user is getting an insight into your current situation. If you do need to edit your videos, there are plenty of free editing tools that you can use on mobile to edit as you go, keep your videos brand consistent and get creative without losing the feeling of immediacy.

The main focus of your social media content should be to drive users somewhere else. Whether that’s to a website or your profile page, your content should be looking to make people convert as quickly as possible. This is where short-form videos thrive, as they tantalize the viewer just enough that they become more inclined to click through for more information.

Tip: With Combin Scheduler, you can add a bio link to your website planning any new post or a Story. Even if you have fewer than 10,000 Instagram followers.

If there is a minimal amount of information given away in the video, the user will want to learn more. A well-placed link to your website or instructions to click on the profile to learn more is a more reasonable ask if the video is short and grabs their attention without explaining too much. Mystery and the promise of answers are one of the best drivers of traffic, it plays into our desire as humans to learn more like a glimpse of a monster in a movie makes us want to see the full thing. If the video is too long or a user gets too much from it, they won’t feel the need to seek out further context.

Don’t muddle the point

Messy, muddled content is a sure-fire way to kill any interest in your campaign. The worst ad-campaigns and social content all fail to understand how to keep things simple. A simple idea that’s easy to digest is the best way to get your followers invested.

If your video is short and simple there can be no question as to its purpose. If you try and trick your viewers they will be turned off. You remove all sense of confusion with short content, without revealing too much.

You shouldn’t look to overload the sense to distract their eyes towards your eyes, they’re already on the platform to find entertaining content. If an idea is too complicated or long-winded, they will just keep scrolling by. Your audience is on the platform for something simple, so don’t even give yourself the time to overthink things.

It can be hard as someone who spends there workday on Instagram to realize it’s more generally used in short, sweet bursts. There is no reason to overthink or elongate your video content on there though. Advertising messages should be short, simple and memorable, so why would you do anything different with video content?

About the author: Kayleigh Alexandra is the lead writer at MicroStartups, a website dedicated to helping charities and microbusinesses. After years working in the sustainability, marketing and creative industries, Kayleigh now loves to devote her time to supporting other businesses to grow and thrive. Visit her blog or follow her on Twitter @getmicrostarted for the latest news,
tips and advice for startups and solopreneurs.