Everything You Need to Know About Instagram Video (Part 1)

Instagram video content is all the rage and becoming pivotal in social media marketing. With that in mind, we decided to dig into this phenom to find out what the deal is with Instagram clips. The result is a 3-part series dedicated to the rise of recorded visual content on social media.

In this first installment, we begin with a lay of the land to get better acquainted with the playing field: who are the big players? What type of content is high performing? What categories are resonating with audiences?

Marketers, take note: here are the findings.


Well, this ticks all the boxes.


It’s become pretty well known that video is on the rise on social media. In fact, it's actually expected to account for almost 70% of all online consumer traffic in 2017. Say what!?

From leveraging YouTube influencers to Snapchat to Instagram Stories, brands are going beyond static images to provide their audience with even deeper visual content. Instagram has been adapting to the obvious demand by increasing video upload length options, providing view counts, increasing searchability through the explore tab, and launching Stories, all within the past year.

Users are hungry. Gotta feed the hungry.

Social media video content provides brands with a way to not only better express personality and voice, but to increase product tangibility as well. The medium also allows for forging more profound emotional connections with audiences, thus doing wonders for engagement. After all, we’ve seen first hand how having a YouTube channel can positively affect engagement rates on Instagram. As they say, a picture is worth 1000 words… but a video? Talk about amplification.

Staying on Track

That said, tracking video engagement can be a wee bit tricky. While Instagram plays host to both static and video posts, their performance should unequivocally be analyzed separately - apples to oranges. In fact, many Insta vids are still underperforming in comparison to traditional image posts, meaning that users are less likely to double tap for a reel.

Good thing the platform began tracking views over likes, a metric that seems far more appropriate in terms of accuracy. Instagram said it themselves: "views are the most widely expected form of feedback on video." Can we get an amen? Another derivative metric that can be calculated from view count is the view rate, aka the percentage of audience that watched 👀, aka magic for marketers.

It’s still too early to get a real grasp on industry view rate averages, but one thing we know for sure is that when it comes to videos, one size most certainly does not fit all. All denominators are not created equal! Their performance is highly dependent on the brand genre, the type of product or service, the audience... Companies are entering this wild wild west with different strategies, and while some are struggling, others are seriously killing it.

Nike Instagram video content marketing strategy performanceNike's gallery is almost entirely comprised of videos.

Going in for the Kill

So who exactly who is crushing this so-called video strategy? What industries are producing recordings that are outperforming overall content average engagement rates? These are the things that keep us up at night!

Which is precisely why we decided to take a comb through to discover what drives users to double tap after viewing... Lo and behold, we uncovered the 3 top performing video categories.

1. Extreme Sports

The extreme sports category clocks in as the solid number one based on engagement rates, with none other than Red Bull sitting in the hot seat. Not exactly surprising when you consider the fact that many brands tied to adrenaline rushes have been involved in the video marketing business for many years.

One of the most tangible ways to experience the thrill of the extreme is through film, second only to actually being there to witness stunts in person. Spoiler alert: trick shots can’t properly be captured with a single photo. The high engagement is indicative of users not only liking the posts, but also leaving comments, a big driver of viral potential.

Red Bull Stats
Follower Count: 5.4M
Average Engagement Rate Per Post (photo or video): 1.62%

Sk8ers gon' sk8: this vid has a 3.18% engagement rate and a 12.7% view rate, which is kinda cray:


This one has a 3.03% engagement rate and a 8.7% view rate:

Zero f*cks given.🤘 🚶: @marceloguvi #mtb #mountainbike #downhillmtb

A video posted by Red Bull (@redbull) on



2. Beauty

Landing in second place based on engagement rates is the beauty industry. Bath bomb lovers rejoice: reigning supreme in this category is Lush Cosmetics. Considering the fact that many beauty products require tutorials for learning best use, and that many brands have taken over YouTube influencer channels, this makes total sense.

Because videos enable usage demos and allow for brands to form emotional bonds with their fans by exhibiting personality, they're an extremely powerful tool to draw people in. With users entrusting brands that have been referred to them primarily by word of mouth, the deeper the connection, the better for business. “Video is playing a larger role for beauty brands”, stated WWD, with 47% of the value being delivered in the first 3 seconds.

Note: While view rates may be higher here than what we saw above with extreme sports, it’s important to keep in mind that as follower count grows, view rate generally decreases.

Lush Cosmetics Stats
Follower Count: 2.9M
Average Engagement Rate Per Post: 2%

Emotibombs are taking over the world! JK, but with 3.06% engagement rate and a 15.6% view rate, they might be taking over Instagram:

Are you ready for this jelly? This clip got a 2.49% engagement rate and a view rate of 13.7%:



3. Fitness

Lastly, the fitness/health & wellness industry lands in third place as it relates to video engagement rates. Within that pack of brands is Lululemon leading the workout way. This is yet another niche sector that benefits directly from how-to displays, thanks to the importance of going beyond the single image to highlight techniques.

When movement is an intrinsic part of a brand's DNA, it’s no surprise that users are positively responding to clips showcasing... wait for it... movement! In an unexpected plot twist, non fitness influencers are also seeing some of their highest engagement rates on fitness-related videos (hi Alexis!).

Lululemon Stats
Follower Count: 1.5M
Average Engagement Rate Per Post: 1.35%

Downward dog, upward engagement - this stop motion reached a 2.08% engagement rate and a 17.1% view rate:

Surya Namaskar A: decoded. It’s a ritual of gratitude and wakes up the body & mind. A cycle led by the breath to begin your practice. Refer back to this info when you need and come back often. 1️⃣Tadasana (mountain): equal weight in both feet & hands to heart centre. Find a tall spine with shoulders back. Turn your core on to lift the pose brighter.  2️⃣Urdhva Hastasana (upward salute): inhale. Sweep both arms high, expand your chest & gaze to your thumbs softly.  3️⃣Uttanasana (standing forward fold): exhale. Fold forward at the hips leading with your heart. Bend your knees, especially if your hamstrings are tight. 4️⃣Ardha Uttanasana (half standing forward fold): inhale. Create length in your spine by taking hands to shins or the earth in front of you (blocks are helpful). Plug your thighs back & the crown of your head forward. 5️⃣Chaturanga Dandasana (four-limbed staff): exhale. Jump back to chaturanga or if this is new, step back to high plank (lower your knees to build strength at first). Shift your weight forward & bend your elbows close to your body to lower half-way down. Shoulders shouldn’t drop lower than elbows. Yep—it’s challenging.  6️⃣Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward-facing dog): inhale. Roll to the top of your feet. Press your hands into the earth to extend elbows & draw shoulders back. Activate your feet, core & legs to keep thighs & knees lifted. Modification: practice Bhujangasana (cobra) by lowering all the way down & rooting your pelvis into the earth to lift your heart. 7️⃣Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog): exhale. Tuck your toes & use your core to draw hips up & back. Create length in your spine, modification: bend knees. Relax the back of your neck & take 5 deep breaths here. If you need rest, drop to your knees & relax into child’s pose. 8️⃣At the end of your 5th breath, jump or step feet to hands. As you arrive at the top of your mat, just rewind. Inhale to Ardha Uttanasana, exhale to Uttanasana softening back in. Inhale rise back to Urdhva Hastasana & lastly exhale hands back to your heart. Use the sequence as a reminder that you are connected to something bigger. Repeat as needed.

A video posted by lululemon (@lululemon) on

Tugging at all the Lululemonheads' hearstrings, garnering a 1.89% engagement rate and a 13.9% view rate on this clip:

A standing vinyasa flow sequence broken down. The perfect add on after 3-5 Surya Namaskar A’s. Vinyasa Flow uses the breath to connect each pose; ‘nyasa' means "to place" & ‘vi' means "in a special way.” Take 3-5 full breaths in each pose.1️⃣From downward facing dog, find a deep & rhythmic breath. Inhale & lift your left leg into three-legged downward facing dog, keep your lifted leg engaged. Bend your knee & stack your left hip over the right. Keep your shoulders square, equal weight in both hands & core engaged 2️⃣Virabhadrasana II (warrior 2): exhale & step the left foot between your hands. Pivot the back foot flat so your front heel lines up with your back arch. Inhale to open arms up & stack shoulders over hips. Ensure front knee is over the ankle 3️⃣Viparita Virabhadrasana (reverse warrior): keep legs the same as warrior 2, inhale & stretch your left hand slightly forward, turn the palm up. Exhale & lean your torso back to lightly rest your right hand to the thigh. Firm the thighs & core and soften your shoulders as you reach your top arm high 4️⃣Trikonasana (triangle): lift back up. Straighten your front leg & reach the left hand forward to lengthen. Tip left hand to the earth & reach right arm high. Take shoulders & ears back to keep your heart open & lengthen your sides with each breath. Modification: use a block 5️⃣Ardha Chandrasna (half-moon): place right hand to the hip & walk your left fingertips forward (or use a block), as you step your back foot in & balance on your left foot. Lift your right leg parallel to the floor & stretch your right arm up. Option to move into ardha chadrasana chapasana (that’s a mouthful), by bending your right knee & grabbing your ankle. Kick the foot away to open your heart 6️⃣Baddha Virabhadrasana (humble warrior): step back to warrior 2 to reset. Interlace your hands behind you. Inhale to roll your shoulders back & lift your heart. Exhale to fold your left shoulder inside the left knee. Keep your outer left hip back as you extend your head down & fists up 7️⃣Powering into your legs, lift back up. Pivot the feet to switch to the other side & repeat. When you want more—head to a local class.

A video posted by lululemon (@lululemon) on



Now that we've presented all of the facts, the question begs to be answered: What’s the secret to driving high engagement rates on Instagram videos?

Well, for one it's about understanding whether or not videos make sense for your brand. As seen above, there is a definite trend in video performance success within the extreme sports, beauty, and fitness industries. All of these categories have audiences that are primed for tutorials and demos. Regardless, content has to be relevant and engaging in order to prompt users to double tap and comment.

If you find yourself belonging to any of these categories, it might be time to consider getting onboard that train. Some things are just better shared as a video, ya know?

.........

Stay tuned for part 2 of our video series, where we link content performance to specific filters and functionalities and put it all under the microscope.

Want more? Check out our full video series 📽


Looking to learn more about how your Instagram videos are performing? We’d be happy to help.