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What's the Difference Between Video Formats on Instagram?

With all the recent changes to video on Instagram's platform, we thought we'd help clear up some of the confusion. With the introduction of Reels, the elimination of IGTV, and the plethora of changes made to Instagram Lives in the last 2 years alone, the landscape of video formats on Instagram has never been more confusing to a beginner. What should you be prioritizing? What size is a Reel versus a feed video? How long can an Instagram Story be? We're breaking it all down.

1. Instagram Reels

Reels are by far the fastest growing video format on Instagram. Reels are being pushed over static photo content because Instagram is trying to compete with the virality of TikTok. In addition, the reach that Reels give to accounts far outstrips the reach of the other video formats. If you're just stepping into video content on Instagram, you should prioritize Reels creation above all else. Reels are short form, vertical videos that are entertaining and lean heavily on trending audio, effects, and video editing transitions on the app. Here are some recent Instagram Reels Trends you should try ASAP. While Instagram offers a feature called "Remix" that allows users to duet a Reel and share their take on it, this feature hasn't exploded yet on the app. But keep an eye out for that feature being pushed by the algorithm soon.

Time Limit: 60 seconds (but if we're being honest, under 30 seconds will get you more views)

Best Aspect Ratio: 9:16

Best Dimensions: 1080 x 1920 pixels

The Reel below by Media À La Carte is short and sweet, but the transition keeps people watching on loop.

2. Instagram Stories

Stories have been around for awhile. But if we look back into the social media vault, they're yet another feature that Instagram copied from another platform. The concept of a "story" originated with Snapchat, and after it gained popularity on that app, Instagram added it to its platform.

Time Limit: 15 seconds (but if you post a longer video, Instagram will simply cut it up into 15 second slides)

Best Aspect Ratio: 9:16

Best Dimensions: 1080 x 1920 pixels

Stories are the best place to post content on the fly and share casual behind the scenes moments with your followers. We also share a lot of educational content on our stories because we want to make sure that are followers are getting quality content from us, no matter if they're catching us in their stories or on their feeds. Remember, most Instagram users tap through their stories before scrolling their feeds - so even if you have killer feed content, don't sleep on posting videos to your stories.

3. Instagram Lives

Instagram Lives are one of the best ways to collaborate with other creators on Instagram. They're also one of the best ways to reach a new audience on Instagram. Instagram Lives are the longest form of video that can be posted to the app with a time limit of 4 hours. One of the best parts of Instagram Lives is that they take less planning than other forms of video content because ... they're live! No one expects you to give a flawless performance when you're having an off the cuff conversation with someone on Instagram Live. You can invite up to 3 other users to join you on a Live - making this the most collaborative form of video content on the platform.

Time Limit: 4 hours

Best Aspect Ratio: 9:16

Best Dimensions: 1080 x 1920 pixels

Check out the Live that Media À La Carte did with their brand designer White and Salt.

4. Instagram Feed Videos

Ah, the old faithful. The original video format on Instagram. Feed Videos used to be capped at 1 minute, but ever since Instagram ditched IGTV and merged all long form videos under the Instagram Video tab, Feed Videos can now be up to 60 minutes in length. If you have something you want to share with your followers that's too long for a Reel and doesn't feel casual enough for your Instagram Stories (plus you'd like it to live longer than 24 hours), you'll want to create a Feed Video.

Time Limit: 60 minutes

Best Aspect Ratios: between 1.91:1 and 9:16

Best Dimensions: between 1080 x 608 pixels and 1080 x 1920 pixels

Max File Size for Videos ≤ 10 minutes: 605 MB

Max File Size for Videos ≤ 60 minutes: 3.6GB

If like many of us, you're all video-ed out after creating Reels, posting on your Stories, and going Live on Instagram, we have another Feed Video option that's driven great results for us and our clients. Post a GIF with a witty caption and boom - you've created a Feed Video. This way you're taking advantage of all the video formats Instagram has to offer (we know the algorithm loves that) without yet another filming session.

While we are sad to see the static photo Instagram platform fade into the past, we know that video is the format of the future. If we don't all adapt now, we'll be left behind as Instagram moves closer and closer to a "TikTok-like" experience. Rumor has it that by the end of the year the main Instagram feed will be a suggested Reels feed similar to TikTok's FYP. There's no time to lose. Start focusing on video.

1 Comment

Rockie Namad
Rockie Namad
Oct 20, 2023

Hello, I personally find it more convenient to upload videos to Instagram in mp4 format, they are easy to edit and they take up little disk space. Moreover, they are much more convenient to work with. By the way, after I convert videos to mp4, I immediately start editing them through the editor and uploading them to Instagram.


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