How To Create Awesome Instagram Videos

Instagram: Simple, fast and fun. Here’s how to make videos for Instagram using its features and some amazing free or low-cost mobile apps

In the first two parts of our video series, we wrote about how to make video part of your marketing strategy, and then we talked about how to develop certain types of video, the third part of this series specifically focuses on Instagram video production.

In the retail world, brands are using Instagram videos because they are simple to make and there are a host of awesome mobile apps that increase the production value with just a little bit of extra effort. If you are thinking of using Instagram video, here are some tips, tricks and apps that will help you achieve success out of the gate.

How To Use Instagram To Shoot and Edit Videos

To create and edit videos with Instagram is pretty straightforward as all phones are equipped with video and photo capabilities. Here are basic steps in creating video posts in Instagram:

  1. Open Instagram: When you open Instagram on your phone, you will either select a video you have in your library or you will press the “video” symbol on the right side of your app screen. This will let you start to record. If you are using video from your library, the video automatically loads and the app allows you to go straight into editing.
  2. Using Video Mode: Once you have entered video mode, press and hold the video button down to record. When you are finished recording, you can release the red button to stop recording. Remember, you only have 15 seconds. If there is a clip in your video that you don’t want, delete the video by pressing the “X” symbol on the left side of the video button and start over.
  3. Play with Filters: Once you have created a segment that you are happy with, you can apply a filter by pressing the “next” button in the upper right. You will see the video clip in the chosen filter mode as you select filters that appear underneath the main clip.
  4. Use Image Stabilization: Instagram comes with built-in image stabilization, a feature that helps account for shaky hands. By default, it is turned on and applied to your video. You can turn it on and off by clicking the small camera icon that appears above the filters and below your video.
  5. Add Cover Picture: Once you have completed uploading your video and have chosen a filter, you will want to select a cover photo from the frames of your video. The cover photo is the image clip that is shown on your video to people before it plays.

Once you have completed these five steps, you can add your description and hashtags (either in the descriptions or in the comments sections to be less intrusive). It is now safe to post. Videos play automatically in your feed, so if you do not want them to do this, go to Instagram’s settings and under Preferences, slide the Auto-Play Video switch to Off. If you need additional assistance with this process, Instagram’s help base can provide more details.

Other Ways To Add Video To Instagram

If your company has video it uses on other channels, you can also upload those videos to Instagram. The easiest ways to add videos you have already have is to email or text them to yourself and save them to your phone. Once you’ve added them to your phone, you can share them to Instagram. You can also use Dropbox or Google Drive to add them to your device as well.

Pro Tip: If your videos have been created in a wide format, then you will need to tap the “double arrow” icon of the lower left screen you see when you are selecting the video you want to share. It will put the video into a widescreen mode and not cut off the content.

Instagram Galleries Allows 10 Photos or Videos

Just as soon as I wrote this article, Instagram launched its new galleries feature, this nifty update allows you to share multiple photos and videos in one post. With this update, you no longer have to choose the single best photo or video from an experience you want to remember. Now, you can combine up to 10 photos and videos in one post and swipe through to see them all. According to Instagram:

When upload images to your feed, you’ll see a new icon to select multiple photos and videos. It’s easy to control exactly how your post will look. You can tap and hold to change the order, apply a filter to everything at once or edit one by one. These posts have a single caption and are square-only for now. On your profile grid, you’ll notice the first photo or video of your post has a little icon, which means there’s more to see.

A post shared by ranchlands (@ranchlands) on

Seven Video Apps Anyone Should Test

There are hundreds of photo and video apps in the Google Play and iTunes stores. The ones that I feel work best for brands (with a focus on retailers) are as follows:

  1. VSCO Cam: VSCO is the go-to app for photographers and pro instagrammers alike. The app allows you have greater image/video control via more advanced, custom filters and editing tools. It offers paid, premium features in the app as well. (Free for iOS, Free for Android)
  2. Afterlight: Afterlight is one of the most cost effective editing apps for video. It offers 74 filters, 78 natural textures, 128 frames, and endless editing possibilities.($1.39 for iOS, $0.99 for Android)
  3. Clipper: Clipper is an instant video designed specifically for Instagram. The app allows you to turn your video clips into amazing mini-movies with Clipper. Arrange clips, edit, add music, and apply effects in seconds. It’s free to download, and for about $8.99 in in-app purchases, can become a very powerful tool for any brand (iOS).
  4. Video Editor: This amazing all-in-one edit app allows you to trim videos, add music, text and emojis. It also offers cool filters. (Android, iOS)
  5. Live Collage: LiveCollage is a fun app that allows you to use videos, photos and gifts all at once in one Instagram post. This has over 5,000 layouts, features a host of filters and editing tools, and also offers more technical tools like red eye reduction and blemish touch-ups. (iOS)
  6. VideoSound: VideoSound enables you to add music from your iTunes library over video you’ve created. It also allows you to create slideshows from your photos and soundtracks to go along with them. While simple, it’s a great alternative to Animoto. (iOS)
  7. Animoto: If you aren’t ready for full video mode, you can start testing the waters by creating slideshows to showcase your products, lookbooks, or trade events, then you may want to look at Animoto. You can select photos you want to use in a video, add transitions and music, and post it to Instagram once you’ve completed your work. While basic, it’s a fun start and has a desktop version! (iOS, Android)

If the apps above do not suit your needs, definitely explore more possibilities. Depending on your aesthetic, there are more advanced apps that offer fewer features, but higher production quality. Since many are free to download, try several before settling on two or three you like best!

Use Editing Tricks Like The Pros

Introducing Hyperlapse from Instagram from Instagram on Vimeo.

If your brand wants to take its Instagram production a litter further, using props and special effects apps can offer you a lot of room for growth. Here are some extremely useful tips pros use that you may find helpful:

  1. Use Production Props: Depending on what you are shooting, don’t be afraid to use a few production props. Tripods help achieve stability and can also be used to create unusual angles. A low cost table dolly can help achieve smooth pan shots. With your phone attached to an aid, all you need to do is hold record and push it along.
  2. Play With Hyperlapse (iOS only): Hyperlapse is an app that was created by Instagram to give users the ability to create timelapse videos. It works very similar to creating a video, but it speeds it up considerably. In the app, use the slider to choose a speed for your video. Tap the checkmark in the top right to save the video to your device’s camera roll. When you shoot a timelapse video with Hyperlapse, your footage will be instantly stabilized to give it a cinematic look. A top option for Android is Lapse It.
  3. Test Out Stop Motion: Timelapse videos make everything move quickly, stop motion videos provide quirky pauses. They are highly engaging and often leave the viewer wondering just how they were made! Leveraging a few production props, they’re pretty easy to achieve. Check out PhotoJoJo’s article on doing this successfully.
  4. Add Music and Special Effects: Adding music to your videos will drastically increase your engagement. There are several third party apps that help you do this, see our list below.

I can not stress enough to take your time in learning to use video apps. Video production, storytelling and the more technical aspects matter, but pacing your video development gets better with practice and consistency. As a retailer or brand, you already have an eye for composition, context and layout. Remember, this is social video, not a Sundance documentary. Own your video production process like you own your product design process –– and make it work for you!