Optimizing Instagram Videos: Best Practices
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Choose the right video format
  2. Optimize video length
  3. Consider the first three seconds
  4. Use high-quality video
  5. Add captions to your videos
  6. Include a clear call to action
  7. Use hashtags effectively
  8. Engage with your audience
  9. Analyze and adjust your strategy

Are you on a mission to shine on Instagram with your videos? Great! You're in the right place. Let's talk about how to optimize videos for Instagram and make your content stand out. We'll go through nine important steps, each offering practical advice to get your videos performing their best.

Choose the right video format

You might wonder why the video format matters. Well, choosing the right video format is like picking the perfect outfit for a job interview — it makes a great first impression. Instagram prefers the MP4 format for videos. Here's why:

  • Compatibility: Most digital platforms, including Instagram, find it easy to play MP4 files. Your followers won't have any trouble viewing your content.
  • Quality: MP4 keeps your video quality high, even at low file sizes. This means your videos will look sharp and clear, without exhausting your audience's data limits.

Instagram's technical specifications also suggest the following for your videos:

  1. AAC audio: This audio codec keeps your sound quality crisp and clear.
  2. 3500 kbps bitrate: A higher bitrate equals better video quality — but remember, going too high might make your video file too large and slow to load.
  3. 30 fps (frames per second): This is the standard frame rate for digital video. It gives your video a smooth, natural look.
  4. Maximum of 60 seconds long: Instagram limits most videos to 60 seconds, so keep it snappy!
  5. 1080 pixels wide: This is Instagram's preferred width for videos. It's just right for viewing on smartphones.
  6. 1920 pixels tall: And this is the preferred height. Together with the width, it gives your videos a full HD resolution.
  7. H. 264 codec: This codec compresses your videos so they're easier to upload and download, without losing too much quality.

That might seem like a lot to remember, but don't worry! Most video editing software will let you save your videos with these settings. So, next time you're exporting a video for Instagram, remember to choose the right format. It'll give your videos a great start on their journey to the top of your followers' feeds.

Optimize video length

Let's move on to the next step on our journey to figure out how to optimize videos for Instagram. It's all about timing: getting the video length just right. Yes, you've got a lot to say, but remember, attention spans can be short on social media.

The length of your video can make or break its success. Instagram allows up to 60 seconds for a video in your feed, but does that mean you should use the full minute every time? Not necessarily.

Here's the thing: shorter videos (around 30 seconds) tend to perform better. They're quick, engaging, and easy to digest. Think of them like a tasty snack, rather than a full meal. Fewer people might stick around for a 60-second video than a 30-second one. So, if you can get your message across in less time, go for it!

However, this isn't a hard and fast rule. Sometimes, you might need a little more time to tell your story or explain a complex idea. In those cases, feel free to use the full 60 seconds. Just make sure every second counts and adds value to your audience.

And remember, there's always Instagram TV (IGTV) for longer videos. IGTV allows videos up to 60 minutes long when you upload from a computer. It's a perfect platform for more detailed, in-depth content that requires a longer format.

So, next time you're editing a video for Instagram, take a moment to consider its length. Keep it as short and sweet as possible, but don't be afraid to use more time if your content needs it. It's all about finding the perfect balance.

Consider the first three seconds

Now that you've got the length of your video nailed down, let's talk about another important aspect of optimizing videos for Instagram: the first three seconds. Why the first three seconds, you ask? Well, it's simple: those initial moments are your golden opportunity to grab your viewer's attention and keep them watching.

Think about it. When you're scrolling through your Instagram feed, you're likely to pause on a video that immediately catches your eye, right? It's the same for your audience. If the start of your video is intriguing, exciting, or just plain interesting, they're more likely to stick around to see what happens next.

So, how can you make those first three seconds count? Here are a few tips:

  • Start with a bang: Use a compelling visual, a surprising fact, a funny moment, or anything else that will instantly draw your viewers in.
  • Tease what's to come: Give your audience a sneak peek of what they can expect if they keep watching. This could be a highlight from the rest of the video, a question that will be answered, or a problem that will be solved.
  • Get to the point: Don't waste time with long introductions or unnecessary details. Jump right into the action or the main point of your video.

Remember, the goal is to make your audience stop scrolling and start watching. So, don't shy away from being bold, creative, and a little bit surprising in those first three seconds. It's a surefire way to optimize your Instagram videos and get more eyes on your content.

Use high-quality video

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Content is King.” Well, in the world of Instagram videos, you might say, “Quality is Queen.” No matter how captivating your first three seconds are, if your video quality is poor, viewers might just keep scrolling. So, how do we ensure our videos look their best?

  • Resolution Matters: Aim for a video resolution of at least 720p. Anything less might appear blurry or pixelated on larger screens. We all want to see those cute puppy videos in high-definition, right?
  • Light It Up: Good lighting can make a drastic difference. Natural light is your best friend, but if that's not an option, consider investing in a good-quality light source.
  • Sound Check: No one likes a video with muffled or too loud audio. Ensure your sound quality is clear, and consider using an external microphone if needed.

Lastly, don't forget the power of editing. A little tweaking here and there can turn a good video into a great one. There are plenty of editing apps out there that can help you adjust color, brightness, sound, and more. And voila! You're on your way to creating high-quality Instagram videos that viewers won't be able to resist.

Add captions to your videos

Did you know that around 85% of videos on social media are watched without sound? That's a whole lot of people who might miss out on your message if you don't include captions. But how do you add these handy text descriptions to your videos?

  • Manual Entry: Instagram allows you to manually enter captions while uploading your video. It might be time-consuming, but the effort pays off in viewer engagement.
  • Automatic Captions: Instagram also offers an auto-caption feature. However, don't rely on this tool entirely. Always double-check the results to avoid any awkward auto-correct situations.
  • Use Captioning Apps: There are several third-party apps available that can help you generate and edit captions. These can be a lifesaver if your video includes a lot of dialogue.

Remember, adding captions doesn't just help those watching without sound. It also makes your content more accessible to the hearing-impaired community. Talk about a win-win situation!

Include a clear call to action

Let's talk about "Call to Action" or as the cool kids say, "CTA". This is one of the most important parts of your Instagram video. Why? Well, it's simple: your CTA tells your audience what you want them to do next.

  • Be Direct: Don't be shy about telling your viewers what to do. "Swipe left", "Follow us", "Leave a comment"—these are all clear, simple instructions that your audience can easily follow.
  • Offer Value: If you want your audience to take action, make it worth their while. Exclusive discounts, giveaways, or sneak peeks at new products can compel viewers to take that next step.
  • Placement Matters: Your CTA should be prominent but not intrusive. Experiment with different placements—end of the video, in the middle, or even in the beginning—to see what works best for your audience.

Remember, a well-placed and well-crafted CTA can make the difference between a viewer simply liking your video and a viewer who becomes a loyal follower or customer. So, how will you craft your next call to action to optimize your Instagram videos?

Use hashtags effectively

Hashtags – those short, catchy phrases following the pound sign – are not just for fun. They're the secret sauce to getting your videos noticed on Instagram.

  • Relevant Hashtags: Use hashtags that are relevant to your video and your brand. If you're selling handmade soaps, for example, #HandmadeSoap or #NaturalBeautyProducts could work well for you.
  • Trending Hashtags: Stay current with trending hashtags. If there's a popular hashtag that fits your video, don't hesitate to use it. But remember, it must be relevant. No sense in using #GameOfThrones if your video is about dog food!
  • Branded Hashtags: Create your own unique hashtag to promote your brand. This not only helps in expanding your reach but also encourages your audience to associate the hashtag with your brand.

So, you see, the simple hashtag is a powerful tool when you're figuring out how to optimize videos for Instagram. Be smart and strategic with your hashtags and watch your videos soar!

Engage with your audience

Instagram isn't just about posting videos—it's about building a community. And a key part of that is engaging with your audience. Here's how you can do it:

  • Reply to comments: If someone takes the time to comment on your video, take a moment to reply. It shows you value their input and helps to build a relationship.
  • Ask questions: Want to know what your audience thinks? Ask them! You could ask for their opinion on your video, their thoughts on a new product, or simply what they're up to this weekend.
  • Host live videos: Live videos are a great way to interact with your audience in real time. You can answer questions, share behind-the-scenes content, or simply have a chat.

Engaging with your audience is a great way to make them feel valued and part of your brand's community. Plus, it gives you valuable insights into what they like and what they want to see more of. So, when thinking about how to optimize videos for Instagram, don't forget about the people watching them!

Analyze and adjust your strategy

Just like a seasoned chef tastes and adjusts their recipe as they go, you also need to analyze and adjust your Instagram video strategy. Here's how:

  • Use Instagram's built-in analytics: Instagram provides a wealth of data about your videos. You can see how many people have viewed your video, how many have liked it, and how many have commented. Take note of which videos perform best and try to replicate their success.
  • Listen to your audience: Your audience's feedback is one of the most valuable tools you have. If they love a certain type of video, make more like it. If they're not engaging with your content, it might be time for a change.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment: Sometimes, the best way to optimize videos for Instagram is to try something new. Test out different video formats, different types of content, and different posting times and see what works best.

Remember, optimizing your Instagram videos isn't a one-time thing—it's a constant process of analysis and adjustment. By keeping an eye on your metrics and listening to your audience, you can make sure your videos are always hitting the mark.

If you're looking to take your Instagram videos to the next level and optimize them for maximum engagement, then don't miss the workshop 'Editing Eye Catching Videos for Instagram' by Shannon Layne. This workshop will provide you with essential tips and techniques for creating captivating and engaging videos that will help you stand out on Instagram.