I’m a huge fan of Instagram. I love that it gives ordinary people a means of expressing their creativity and the ability to get recognition for it. I also love, for a couple of reasons, being able to follow brands purely for the visual content that they wish to share.

Instagram has allowed many brands to give their fans a sneak peek behind the scenes. Of course this is achievable through the use of other social networks, but with Instagram, you know exactly what users want; interesting, beautiful, evocative images that can make them feel a connection to the brand.

When Instagram announced that they were going to launch the ability to post 15 second videos, I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about it. On one hand it could completely enhance the visual experience that using Instagram is all about. On the other, it could completely take away from the exclusivity of it.

Instagram's new video function

Instagram allows users to capture a perfect moment, edit it to make it more perfect, and then share it. These perfect little snapshots can provoke us to feel certain emotions, reminisce over special memories and even fantasize. The introduction of video had me worrying that this perfect world of beautiful images would be broken and Instagram would become something more real and less of a fantasy land. And for brands, the last thing they want to do is destroy the image that they have created for themselves.

After checking out the first uses of video, though, I was pleasantly surprised. The only thing I’ve been disappointed in is the fact that more brands aren’t making use of it. On Facebook, shared images are orchestrated and are less spontaneous. With Instagram, it’s usually much more natural and unplanned so for many, the introduction of video might leave them a little unsure of where to start.

As a general rule, the use of Instagram video should be approached in exactly the same way as the photos. You just have a little more to work with!

A Deeper Look Behind the Scenes

One of the best things about social media for brands is that they can give their fans a look behind the scenes. People LOVE to see what goes on in the office or on photo-shoots, it makes them feel included and like they are a part of the family. This is one thing that Instagram is great for and now with video it allows for an even better look at what goes on at a more personal level. Of course, a lot of brands are going to be posting videos demonstrating this, but a great example I came across was by Topshop. They took a video of a model dancing crazily on a photoshoot and it got nearly 15,000 likes. Allowing fans to see these kinds of backstage antics makes them feel more of a personal connection, like they are involved. This in turn leads them to feeling a sense of loyalty to the brand.


We’ve gone back to the 70’s today! #Topshop #70’s #photoshoot #Boutique by @topshop

Sneak Previews and Teasers

Another great way of utilising video is to provide users with sneak previews and teasers of upcoming products. It gives brands a way of creating mini adverts without actually coming across like they are actually advertising. Tie this in with giving a special look behind the scenes and you’re killing two birds with one stone. Again, I’m going to use Topshop as an example because they did exactly this. They gave a look behind the scenes at their AW13 Beauty Showcase and a sneak peek at their new products.


Just having a little sneak peek at our AW13 beauty showcase. Oh we do love press day! #topshop #makeup #beauty #aw13 by @topshop

Short Clips of Other Videos or Tutorials

Although I don’t have any examples of this as of yet, in the past I have come across images with links in the comment section to related video tutorials or other video content. Now with the introduction of video on Instagram, users can share snippets of their tutorials, prompting their followers to view more. It even gives the possibility of creating lightening tutorials, like the nail tutorial below. It gives brands access to an audience for this type of material that they might not otherwise have.


Ombré nail tutorial for beginners, press play! SaboSkirt.com #saboskirt by @saboskirt

Making Brands More Human

We all like the see the face behind the name. If we’re viewing a brand’s content every day then it’s natural that we would like to see the people involved. Seeing that the brand has a human side deepens the connection that we feel towards it. This has been done successfully on Instagram for a long time and now with the video sharing capability it will be further enhanced. Brands should be turning the cameras on themselves to say hi and introduce themselves to the world.

A nice example of this is a video by Australian clothing company, Sabo Skirt. I’ve mentioned before in a previous blog post; they are great at social media. A lot of bigger brands could learn a few lessons from them and it’s no surprise that their social media presence is huge. They posted the below video introducing themselves and in doing so they come across as normal, approachable and down to earth people that their fans can connect with.


An official hello to all of our followers.. From the owners of Sabo Skirt @thessy_saboskirt and @yiota ❤ #saboskirt by @saboskirt

Keeping Up to Date with Breaking News and Current Events

As events are happening, social media users are searching for the relevant terms to keep up to date. And while we’re not saying that brands should take advantage of serious events with irrelevant or insensitive content, it does provide a gateway for getting involved. Just to give an example of how well this can work, one Vine user (before Instagram launched its video) tweeted a video of the explosion during the Boston Marathon. In just 55 minutes it had been retweeted over 15,000 times. Now, I’m not saying you should be waiting for the next tragic incident to take advantage of. Just keep in mind that people like to stay current and if you can contribute in a meaningful way then it’s definitely worth thinking about.

Even Instagram themselves went down this route. They reposted a video that The Whitehouse posted of Barack Obama during his tour in Africa.


This week, the White House and First Lady Michelle launched their Instagram accounts-@whitehouse and @michelleobama-just in time to document their tour of Africa, which kicked off with a visit to the west African country of Senegal. Video by @whitehouse. by @instagram

So, I think I’m going to love Instagram video and I think that done in the right way it can be great for brands. In this blog post over at MediaPost, they talk about the success that some users have had in terms of video likes compared with photo likes. Yoga specialist Lululemon pulled in more than double the average of 5785 likes per photo for their first video.

There are still many out there that are not yet utilising it and I’m not sure why. With 130 million users it’s an opportunity to reach fans that shouldn’t be missed out on. Perhaps they need to sharpen their social media skills in general or perhaps they are not really sure how to approach it.

Sure, you might have to think a little more before posting a video but if you stay true to your brand and what it is about then it should be a great way to further connect with followers.

Have you tried out Instagram videos yet? Let us know in the comments!