Instagram’s Video-First Declaration: Three Questions For Marketers

By Alex Mansell on 14th September 2021

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri recently proclaimed that “Instagram is no longer a photo-sharing app”.

It’s a mistake for brands to overlook statements like this because when a declaration is made, algorithm changes will surely follow.

In this case, video content will be prioritised on already-competitive newsfeeds, pipping any static images to the post in terms of visibility and engagement. This could mean a catastrophic long-term impact on metrics if ignored, so marketers will need to adapt their marketing strategy to reflect the channel’s changing needs.

With this in mind, WPR’s senior social media strategy director, Alex Mansell, outlines the three questions to ask yourself if you own, or are planning to launch, a Instagram business account.

  • 1. Do we have the time (and money) to invest in a video-first strategy?

Instagram was originally set up with aesthetically pleasing content in mind. It named its first filter X-Pro II, after an analogue photo-developing technique, with the clear intention of making Instagram synonymous with beautiful images. When we advise clients on the logistics of setting up an Instagram account, one of our first questions is “Do you have enough attractive content to be able to post regularly, and if not, do you have the budget to create it?”.

There’s no doubt this question now has to evolve to include the word ‘video’, which brings an added layer of complexity to the equation. While we can (and do) create video content that isn’t overly polished – the trend for authenticity makes a less high-production style desirable in many instances – any video content naturally takes longer to create than static images.

If you’re not confident you have the means to achieve this, you may find that your feed starts to wane in terms of reach. This gives your competitors that do produce video the chance to steal market share and can have a real-life impact on the value of your feed and, ultimately, your bottom line.

  • 2. Are we able to quickly adapt to new features and formats?

If you don’t know your Reels from your IGTV, or your Stories from your Live, you won’t be able to ensure your content is working as hard as it possibly can for you.

Many brands stick to the safety net of an on-grid post because it’s what they know, but 58% of people polled by Instagram say they’ve visited a brand’s website after seeing a Story. This is just one example of how ignoring an update to the channel’s video capabilities can see you missing out on potential sales opportunities.

Understanding the nuances of each type of video format – and the audiences that are likely to use them – is key to ensuring success. Only by being willing to respond to the latest formats, testing out what works and being consistent in your efforts will you be rewarded with a profile that delivers.

  • 3. Do we have the time to see what’s really working?

It goes without saying that we recommend monitoring performance of any content on any channel. But this really comes into play in relation to Instagram videos due to the sheer amount of effort it can take to create them.

Linking back to my first question, we know that video requires more time and budget than simpler formats. That makes it more important than ever to keep an eye on video views, actions taken and other metrics to determine whether that investment is paying off.

With question two in mind, it’s also critical to develop an understanding of which format is engaging your audience. If IGTV is drawing fewer actions, perhaps you need to increase your Reels efforts, for example.

Instagram is a platform that offers enormous potential for brands to build customer awareness and engagement. But only by respecting and responding to its shifting identity can you ensure your business is getting the most out of it.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can make Instagram work for your brand, feel free to reach out via LinkedIn.

The author: Alex Mansell is a senior social media strategy director at WPR who specialises in using Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter to keep clients ahead of the curve when it comes to social media marketing.