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Everything You Need to Know About Instagram Video (Part 1)

Jenny Pratt
August 29, 2016
Lasted Updated On

Instagram video content is all the rage and becoming pivotal in social media marketing. With that in mind, we decided to dig into this phenom to find out what the deal is with Instagram clips. The result is a 3-part series dedicated to the rise of recorded visual content on social media.

In this first installment, we begin with a lay of the land to get better acquainted with the playing field: who are the big players? What type of content is high performing? What categories are resonating with audiences?

Marketers, take note: here are the findings.

Well, this ticks all the boxes.

It’s become pretty well known that video is on the rise on social media. In fact, it's actually expected to account for almost 70% of all online consumer traffic in 2017. Say what!?

From leveraging YouTube influencers to Snapchat to Instagram Stories, brands are going beyond static images to provide their audience with even deeper visual content. Instagram has been adapting to the obvious demand by increasing video upload length options, providing view counts, increasing searchability through the explore tab, and launching Stories, all within the past year.

Users are hungry. Gotta feed the hungry.

Social media video content provides brands with a way to not only better express personality and voice, but to increase product tangibility as well. The medium also allows for forging more profound emotional connections with audiences, thus doing wonders for engagement. After all, we’ve seen first hand how having a YouTube channel can positively affect engagement rates on Instagram. As they say, a picture is worth 1000 words… but a video? Talk about amplification.

Staying on Track

That said, tracking video engagement can be a wee bit tricky. While Instagram plays host to both static and video posts, their performance should unequivocally be analyzed separately - apples to oranges. In fact, many Insta vids are still underperforming in comparison to traditional image posts, meaning that users are less likely to double tap for a reel.

Good thing the platform began tracking views over likes, a metric that seems far more appropriate in terms of accuracy. Instagram said it themselves: "views are the most widely expected form of feedback on video." Can we get an amen? Another derivative metric that can be calculated from view count is the view rate, aka the percentage of audience that watched 👀, aka magic for marketers.

It’s still too early to get a real grasp on industry view rate averages, but one thing we know for sure is that when it comes to videos, one size most certainly does not fit all. All denominators are not created equal! Their performance is highly dependent on the brand genre, the type of product or service, the audience... Companies are entering this wild wild west with different strategies, and while some are struggling, others are seriously killing it.

![Nike Instagram video content marketing strategy performance](/content/images/2016/08/nike-instagram-video-content-marketing-strategy-performance.jpg)Nike's gallery is almost entirely comprised of videos.

Going in for the Kill

So who exactly who is crushing this so-called video strategy? What industries are producing recordings that are outperforming overall content average engagement rates? These are the things that keep us up at night!

Which is precisely why we decided to take a comb through to discover what drives users to double tap after viewing... Lo and behold, we uncovered the 3 top performing video categories.

1. Extreme Sports

The extreme sports category clocks in as the solid number one based on engagement rates, with none other than Red Bull sitting in the hot seat. Not exactly surprising when you consider the fact that many brands tied to adrenaline rushes have been involved in the video marketing business for many years.

One of the most tangible ways to experience the thrill of the extreme is through film, second only to actually being there to witness stunts in person. Spoiler alert: trick shots can’t properly be captured with a single photo. The high engagement is indicative of users not only liking the posts, but also leaving comments, a big driver of viral potential.

Red Bull Stats
Follower Count: 5.4M
Average Engagement Rate Per Post (photo or video): 1.62%

Sk8ers gon' sk8: this vid has a 3.18% engagement rate and a 12.7% view rate, which is kinda cray:

This one has a 3.03% engagement rate and a 8.7% view rate:

2. Beauty

Landing in second place based on engagement rates is the beauty industry. Bath bomb lovers rejoice: reigning supreme in this category is Lush Cosmetics. Considering the fact that many beauty products require tutorials for learning best use, and that many brands have taken over YouTube influencer channels, this makes total sense.

Because videos enable usage demos and allow for brands to form emotional bonds with their fans by exhibiting personality, they're an extremely powerful tool to draw people in. With users entrusting brands that have been referred to them primarily by word of mouth, the deeper the connection, the better for business. “Video is playing a larger role for beauty brands”, stated WWD, with 47% of the value being delivered in the first 3 seconds.

Note: While view rates may be higher here than what we saw above with extreme sports, it’s important to keep in mind that as follower count grows, view rate generally decreases.

Lush Cosmetics Stats
Follower Count: 2.9M
Average Engagement Rate Per Post: 2%

Emotibombs are taking over the world! JK, but with 3.06% engagement rate and a 15.6% view rate, they might be taking over Instagram:

Are you ready for this jelly? This clip got a 2.49% engagement rate and a view rate of 13.7%:

3. Fitness

Lastly, the fitness/health & wellness industry lands in third place as it relates to video engagement rates. Within that pack of brands is Lululemon leading the workout way. This is yet another niche sector that benefits directly from how-to displays, thanks to the importance of going beyond the single image to highlight techniques.

When movement is an intrinsic part of a brand's DNA, it’s no surprise that users are positively responding to clips showcasing... wait for it... movement! In an unexpected plot twist, non fitness influencers are also seeing some of their highest engagement rates on fitness-related videos (hi Alexis!).

Lululemon Stats
Follower Count: 1.5M
Average Engagement Rate Per Post: 1.35%

Downward dog, upward engagement - this stop motion reached a 2.08% engagement rate and a 17.1% view rate:

Tugging at all the Lululemonheads' hearstrings, garnering a 1.89% engagement rate and a 13.9% view rate on this clip:

Now that we've presented all of the facts, the question begs to be answered: What’s the secret to driving high engagement rates on Instagram videos?

Well, for one it's about understanding whether or not videos make sense for your brand. As seen above, there is a definite trend in video performance success within the extreme sports, beauty, and fitness industries. All of these categories have audiences that are primed for tutorials and demos. Regardless, content has to be relevant and engaging in order to prompt users to double tap and comment.

If you find yourself belonging to any of these categories, it might be time to consider getting onboard that train. Some things are just better shared as a video, ya know?


Stay tuned for part 2 of our video series, where we link content performance to specific filters and functionalities and put it all under the microscope.

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