4 Types of Instagram Video — What's the difference?

4 Types of IG Video — What’s the Difference?

Many of my clients are brand new to using social media to grow their business and naturally have a lot of questions around posting etiquette and the nuances between similar features on a given platform. Recently, I was asked: what the heck is the difference between IGTV and IG Stories?! And that’s a great question! Months ago, when Instagram rolled-out IGTV, I wrote a break-down of how the feature differed, comparing it to YouTube.

Since then, IG has tuned-down it’s heavy promotion of IGTV and its no longer the obvious best place to post all your videos. So, I created this quick cheat-sheet to help you decide which of IG’s four ways to post a video is right for you. Let me know if this is helpful and I may create a flow chart similar to this one.


#1 Regular Instagram Video Posts

When to use: when you have a polished or otherwise on-brand video you want to keep in your grid forever. New people will see this when assessing whether to follow you.

  • Up to one minute long

  • Can be filmed in landscape or portrait mode

  • Can be pre-recorded on filmed in-app

  • Pros: appear in the feed at full size

  • Cons: only 5-6% of your followers on avg will see your posts in their feed

  • Tip: the first 5 seconds are the most important. Be sure not to ramble or air dead space.


#2 Instagram Stories Video

When to post a video to Stories: when you have fun, behind the scenes, un-polished, or timely content such as a promotion. These videos will disappear after 24 hours unless pinned to a Highlight, which means they don’t need to be perfect.

  • Up to 15 seconds long

  • Can be filmed in landscape or portrait mode, though portrait will fill the screen and looks much better

  • Can be pre-recorded or filmed in-app

  • Includes helpful features such as Hands-free filming, Boomerang, Superzoom

  • Filters, stickers, and engagement markers such as Polls or Countdowns can be applied

  • Tips: don’t cram too much into a single 15s video. Build layers of information onto multiple stories/15s sections. If there is dialogue in your video, add captions using text overlay or a third party tool for pre-recorded video. Most Stories are consumed without sound.


#3 Instagram Live Video

When to go Live: when you have a big moment such as a promotion, launch, or reveal, or if you want to do a live Q&A or otherwise talk to viewers in real-time. Viewers will be able to chat using a textbox.

  • Up to 60 minutes

  • Vertical orientation only

  • Cannot be pre-recorded or filmed using third-party

  • Videos will remain available for replay for 24 hours

  • Pro: Many followers receive a push notification when you go Live

  • Con: Some broadcasters feel discouraged when only a small handful of viewers tune in live. Number of viewers is made public to anyone viewing live.

  • Tip: Anytime you go Live, be sure to promote the ‘event’ to followers beforehand. The best way to do this is by sharing details about the upcoming Live within Stories a day or two leading up to it.

# 4 Instagram TV Video (IGTV)

When to use IGTV: When you have a long-form, pre-recorded video. Typically these will be educational in nature or show-up a publisher’s creativity. Because they’re not as lightweight as Stories, viewers expect more of a “YouTube” feel to your IGTV videos.

  • 10 minutes in length for most accounts; 60 minutes for verified accounts

  • Vertical orientation only

  • Must be pre-filmed and accessed using your mobile device’s video library

  • Pros: You can add clickable links in your video description, you can choose a custom thumbnail, you can automatically publish a one-minute click to your feed which aids in promotion. IGTV comes with more robust analytics. You can see how long people are watching and use that data to improve content over time.