How long should your Instagram video be? We look to top publishers on the platform to find out, by analyzing their most liked and commented video posts.
Last week, we saw that both video output and engagements have increased for publishers.
Instagram videos now account for 85 percent of BBC News’ monthly interactions on the platform, and engagements have grown for top publishers’ videos by 53 percent between last year and 2017.
In March 2016, Instagram made a change allowing video posts as long as 60 seconds long. Previously, the limit had been 15 seconds. We decided to look at whether this change has impacted how publishers are creating video for Instagram. When we looked at video for Facebook in January, we saw that many top publishers were creating videos between 60 and 90 seconds long.
This time, we wanted to dive in a little more deeply and understand what makes for a successful video on Instagram. How long are the top most liked and commented videos from Instagram publishers?
Using NewsWhip Analytics, we surveyed the top 20 engaging publishers and media brands of Instagram video in June 2017. We calculated the length of their top five videos to find what length had their audiences liking and commenting.
NewsWhip Analytics allows us to dig into historical social data across any niche, keyword, or region, and see how users are reacting across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more.
Surprisingly, the king of memes, BuzzFeed, had the longest average for its news vertical, BuzzFeed News. Its top five videos were all 60 seconds long.
E! News and BuzzFeed also contended for the shortest average. Both had their top video post come from a longer video, but the others in their top five were primarily two to five second long memes.
Overall, for the top 20 publishers we looked at, the average video post was 30 seconds long.
How did these publishers distinguish themselves through the video?
The publishers with the longest averages of their top five videos were BuzzFeed News, BuzzFeed Tasty, Fox News, BBC News, and CNN.
These publishers are using the 60 seconds of Instagram video to tell compelling stories. These were generally human interest or animal-focused videos, focused on invoking empathy, joy, or other heartwarming sentiments. If we looked at the news-focused publishers, we see some overlapping trends.
Again, we looked at the data from NewsWhip Analytics to determine the top video.
Like we’ve seen for successful social video before, these were often captioned, honing in on the emotions of the people and animals in them.
The Dodo and People also saw their most engaging Instagram video come from these quick, visual stories.
BuzzFeed News’ top five videos had arguably the most serious content. While two of the top five videos were similar to the other visual storytellers here, focusing on human interest, heartwarming sentiments, and things viewers wouldn’t see everyday, three of the videos honed in on racism, police injustice, and gentrification.
Some stories transcend publisher — we saw three stories pop up in more than one publisher’s top five most engaging Instagram videos for June. A video of a gorilla dancing appeared three times.
A father listening to the heartbeat of his daughter’s donated heart appeared twice in publishers’ top five most engaging video posts. A video of two elephants rescuing a drowning baby elephant appeared in both BBC News’ and Fox News’ top five.
Pack in the action
Many of the top publishers of Instagram video are sports focused. This could be because sports already have a highly passionate audience, or because the thrilling nature of sports translates well to video.
Bleacher Report Football, THRASHER Magazine, Bleacher Report, Barstool Sports, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated all made our top 20 list of most engaging video publishers on Instagram. Their averages ranged from 11.4 seconds (Bleacher Report Football) to 28.6 seconds (Sports Illustrated).
While already on the short side, we noticed that many of the sports publishers draw out the moment using slow-motion effects.
Behind the scenes
Another top tactic of both sports publishers and celebrity news publishers was offering glimpses around fan favorite athletes, models, and pop stars.
We’ve noted before that offering inside peeks into celebrities and athletes lives outside of their vocations is a successful social media tactic. For E! News, a video of Bella Hadid visiting her grandmother drove 121,000 likes and comments, compared to the publisher’s second top video, which only drove 79,000 likes and comments in comparison.
Video is clearly an art. Vogue and Bleacher Report Football’s top video were highly artistic. For Bleacher Report Football, its top engaging videos came from animated drawings.
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@zendaya can pull off virtually any look. Watch her put that skill to the test as she dances through nine decades of fashion and beauty in the link in our bio. Director @bardiazeinali Fashion Editor @jordenbickham DP @fletcher_wolfe Hair @jawaraw Makeup @patmcgrathreal Manicure @honeynailz Set Design @nicholasdesjardins Editor William Town @modern.post Post Production @modern.post
Vogue did something similar, turning its photoshoots into stunning visual collages.
Relate with memes
Memes can drive big engagement too. We’ve noted that they do well as photo posts, but gif-style memes translate well to video.
For BuzzFeed, nearly all of its top five videos were meme-focused. The top video, which was 60 seconds long, pondered on how tasty food in Disney movies looks.
The same occurred for E! News. While the top liked and commented video offered inside peek into Bella Hadid’s personal life, the other four top videos were short two to three second memes.
What to know
As we can see from our top trends, there are many ways to make your Instagram video stand out. To recap, here’s what we can learn for creating successful Instagram video:
- Use relatable or pop culture memes relevant to your audience
- Show your viewers something they wouldn’t see every day
- Capture action-packed feats, stunts, or sports
- Offer inside peeks to celebrities or athletes
- Play around with appetizing collages or animations
- Focus on heartwarming stories, stories that personify animals
It’s worth experimenting with video, as the platform becomes more conducive to the format, and the social data backs it up.
You’ve seen Instagram, but what about Facebook? Read our 2018 guide to Facebook video to learn more.