Videos for Instagram – how to choose the correct format?

September 20, 2022

Instagram was all about pictures until the heat from TikTok caught on.

The success of TikTok as a short video-sharing platform had giants like YouTube and Instagram run to the designing board. Strategies were carved to tame this new beast of a platform that was swallowing millions of new users and retaining them successfully. 

Unfortunately, the counter strategy offered by Instagram has not been very creative so far. It has primarily aped the functionalities of TikTok and tweaked the product to copy the format. 

However, despite Instagram’s failure to thwart the growth of TikTok, Instagram is still an important platform, and marketers cannot ignore it. 

The video cluster bomb by Instagram- Feed Video, Stories, Reels, and Live

There you go, four video formats offered by Instagram. Which one to choose?  Yes, things can get confusing. How does one plan a content calendar around these video options? Does it even matter to consider these options, or should one go ahead and post the same content everywhere?

Definitely not is the answer. 

Let us begin by understanding the difference between these four video formats. 

Feed Video

Instagram merged IGTV and Feed videos into a single format called the Instagram video. Under Instagram video, some users can post videos that are up to sixty minutes in duration. One could think of Instagram videos as a standard offering or the main place to post videos. 


The little circle on the top are your stories section. You can place videos that are up to fifteen seconds long. However, in each sequence, you can place multiple fifteen-second clips. These clips show on your profile for twenty-four hours, after which they disappear. Saving the story as a highlight pins the clip to the top of your profile permanently, and it will not disappear after twenty-four hours.  


This is supposed to be the direct answer to TikTok. It provides most of the features that help TikTok gain popularity. You can add captions, music, text and visual effects using Instagram itself. The duration allowed is up to ninety seconds. One also has the option to edit multiple clips together. 


Instagram live, as the name says, means you can broadcast a live feed to your audiences. Being live is an interesting format as it allows a direct connection with the audience, making them feel involved. 

Now, let us try to understand the best use case scenarios for these formats. 

Feed video -  how to use it?

These videos shall become a part of your Instagram page. They acquire larger real estate on your feed compared to the other formats. You can use feed videos as long-term references for your audiences to learn from. This format is recommended to have a professional feel, especially if you are a B2B company.

Many successful brands curate videos for the feed videos and invest effort in the production. Feed videos are meant to keep the engagement level with your current audiences and provide value. You can use feed videos to give testimonials, inside looks, product features, etc. 

Story - how to use it?

Think of this as the B-roll or behind-the-scenes glimpses section. Stories allow you to give a more human context to your brand. Imagine you are selling handbags and showing your workshop using stories; these clips build trust and a bond with the audience. 

Stories can appear casual, and you do not need a whole crew to shoot them. Since they have a limited life, more than the quality, the context matters in this format. One can use stories to preview their larger videos giving a glimpse of things to follow. Stories drive significant engagement as audiences can react to them using emojis. 

Reel - how to use it?

Reel is to Instagram what a trailer is to a movie. This is the format to bring in new audiences and new followers.

Remember, reels are all about intensity and impact. Use the tools provided by Instagram to supercharge your videos and create excitement in the audience’s mind. Music plays a significant role in launching successful reel videos. Look out for what is in trend and what is working for others to gauge the audience's mood. This is the format to entertain audiences to ease them into being your followers. 

Live - how to use it?

Use live videos to build a connection. Encourage viewers to ask questions and interact. The great thing about live videos is that they are immediate. However, plan well for contingencies and ensure you have done your trial runs before going live. 

Live videos also provide a sense of missing out and therefore attract audiences who do not want to miss the opportunity to interact. All live videos are automatically saved and can be viewed by audiences later as well. 

Use live videos to give audiences a direct sense of who you are. Show behind the scenes of your business and introduce people working for the brand. 

If you are trying to take your Instagram video game to the next level, perhaps a chat with us could help. Write to us at