There’s a solid reason why videos on social media are given such a prominent role in Netflix’s latest smash hit, The Social Dilemma. Marketers (read: companies) and customers alike are increasingly favouring videos over static images.

We collaborated with Socialinsider to track Instagram Story viewers‘ habits from April 2019 through September 2020. We’ve analysed data from 661,565 stories and 64,571 story advertisements posted during this time to provide you the most up-to-date information on Instagram Stories and best practises that show how to make the most of the platform through the use of video.

The Brief History of Instagram Stories

Over 20% of Instagram users’ time is spent in the Explore tab, making it a prime location for brand discovery and fostering emotional connections with consumers.

Instagram Stories, which debuted in August 2016, are currently one of the most useful platforms for marketers. And Instagram is’responsible’ in part for the explosion of videos in marketing campaigns for businesses of all sizes. Instagram has levelled the playing field for video creators by making it possible to do so on a shoestring or no budget at all.
Instagram Stories are essentially posts made by a user during the last 24 hours. And then they vanish after that period. You might be wondering why businesses would put money on content that would be forgotten in a day. However, there are several megatrends that no brand can afford to ignore on Instagram Stories:

Since Instagram Stories typically feature less polished behind-the-scenes, selfie-like videos, and other types of less glossy content, they are often perceived as more authentic than in-feed content, which can help humanise a brand.
Instagram’s Stories feature has boosted the average time people spend on the app by 28 minutes, allowing businesses and individuals to hold the attention of Instagram’s user base for longer.
Instagram users are more likely to pay attention to the “Stories” tab because they have “the fear of missing out” (FOMO) because if they don’t view X’s tale right now, it might not be there later. Stories disappear after 24 hours.

Disclosing the Results; or, Why Videos Are the Best Choice.

Our primary finding from this investigation is that:

Video accounts for 52% of all Instagram stories, and it has higher tap forward and departure rates than still images.
The fact that most tales are currently available in video format only tells half the story.

We analysed key indicators like ‘tap forward rate’ and ‘leave rate’ to determine which content style keeps viewers engaged with an account’s articles for the longest amount of time. And when compared to still photos, videos come out on top every time.

Integrating Video Into Instagram Stories: Best Practises

Now that it’s quite evident that videos should form the backbone of (if not the only focus of) your Instagram Stories strategy, we’ll talk about some of the “best case” tendencies we noticed.

Number of tales that works best

Typically, brands share 7–8 tales per month, but sharing as little as 5 stories per day can increase retention to 70% or higher.
We discovered a linear relationship between the size of an account and its output; that is, as the number of followers grows, so does the volume of posts.

Looking at retention, however, shows that you only need to post about 5 items each day to maintain 75% of your audience.
However, the’more is better’ principle applies when it comes to exposure; adding another story increases your average exposure by 10%.

Plan of attack

These findings suggest that if you want to reach around 40% of your audience and retain 70% of the users, you need to publish at least 5 stories per day.

For businesses who rely heavily on Instagram for sales or those looking to increase their customer base, maintaining a consistent posting schedule is as simple as:

Having one person take charge of executing the content strategy and rallying the troops;
Prepare a month’s worth of material in advance (for inspiration, check out the Instagram posts featured in the following templates);
Using user-generated initiatives to increase the amount of video material available for upload;
Keeping tabs on rival accounts and those that do a great job of promoting on Instagram may provide valuable ideas.

Keep commercials succinct

Facebook found that the optimal length for a narrative ad was 2.8 seconds per scene, whereas the maximum length for advertisements that performed poorly was 4.1 seconds.

The trick is to divide your advertisement into several scenes (or screens), with the value proposition being apparent in the very first screen and the flashy, alluring details being included later.

If your message can be conveyed in fewer characters or on fewer screens, use the latter.

Create an attractive value proposition

If you’re advertising a limited-time offer or a brand-new product, make sure that the viewer knows what you’re talking about within the first few seconds. Since most users’ attention is drawn to the top or centre of the screen initially, that’s where you should put your value proposition.

Don’t let your brand identity slip

Instagram users may see brand X’s ads longer if they come from a popular company.

The H&M logo is prominently shown in this advertisement, even though it doesn’t tell too much about the contents of the commercial itself.