Instagram is one of the most quickly evolving and expanding social media platforms that the digital age has seen. Reports indicate that the platform has over 700 million monthly active users, having almost doubled since September 2015. It’s the third most popular social media platform used today (behind Facebook and Youtube) and is the fastest growing platform. In June of 2013, they unveiled the video feature, allowing users to upload videos a maximum of 15 seconds long. Brands immediately utilized this feature to promote their account.
Videos help brands bolster their visual marketing capabilities. Videos are more engaging and drive more audience involvement than traditional blog posts or even photos, conveying more information without being too long to lose audience attention. Some of the most popular Instagram accounts are brands, with many large corporations having millions of followers. National Geographic, the most followed branded account on Instagram, boasts 77.2 million followers.
Companies that aren’t using Instagram are rapidly falling behind in the digital age as more and more consumers are finding companies online and through social media versus word of mouth. Getting your company on Instagram is just the first step, though—you have to actually get views on your videos to make the time investment worthwhile.
Successful branded Instagram videos share many of the same qualities. They’re short and to the point, but capture the essence of the company. A Mustang car video is fast paced and exciting, for example, whereas a Victoria’s Secret video might be slower and more sensual, featuring more soft textures like silk rather than gritty asphalt or the pattern of tire tracks. The videos are engaging and encourage viewer interaction with creative strategies that are unique to the qualities of the company. The videos are produced professionally (or, at least, they look like it), with balanced lighting, proper sound, and high-quality graphics. They’re a compressed version of a television ad, and command attention in just the same way.
Large companies have entire teams dedicated to social media management. Not all companies can afford to hire employees specifically for social media; thankfully, you don’t need an entire team to generate a healthy amount of Instagram video views and increase company awareness and brand recognition.
To learn more about ways to increase video views for free, read on and following these specific strategies and tips!
Make a “behind the scenes” video of your company.
A behind the scenes video featuring the staff or the processes involved in creating a good or completing a service will make your company seem more grounded and real, rather than an obscure and unreachable entity. Making this sort of video will make people think that they’ve gained access to something exclusive or secret and crave more than the 15 seconds of video that you upload. Be sure to include a link in the caption to where they can learn more about the company!
Be sure to record your video in the proper lighting so the video is easily seen.
Videos that are too dark or too bright can be difficult to view, and make a video seem unprofessional. Finding the right balance of light will encourage users to watch your video rather than scroll past it, and give your video an air of professionality.
Edit the video on a computer using a video editing software, then transfer it to Instagram.
While editing apps exist for iPhone or other smartphone devices, they probably won’t have the tools you need to really make your video shine—especially not the free apps. Even if you shoot the video on a mobile device, we recommend you upload it to a computer to edit it, then reupload it onto your device to submit on your account.
Take plenty of time to edit the video and make it seem professionally done.
This might seem difficult, but YouTube is filled with tutorials on how to edit a video quickly and efficiently. The outcome and increased views will be well worth the time investment. There are many free video software editing software that cater to differing levels of skill and necessary tools; we recommend checking out Windows Movie Maker, WeVideo, or Lightworks.
Include a call to action in the comments to encourage audience interaction.
Engaging the audience in the post will lead to more brand recognition and increased sales. Including questions, deals, and links in the caption can make your company more approachable and will encourage users to explore what you have to offer. Be sure to have a call to action in your Profile to drive users to where you want them to go. Potential caption comments include:
- “Subscribers receive a 5% discount”
- “Leave your thoughts in the comments!”
- “What do you think about this?”
- “Which of the available colors of ‘x product’ is your favorite?”
- “What features on ‘x product’ would you like to see?”
- “Sign up to our mailing list to learn more!”
- “Visit our website for more information!”
- A links to the landing page of your website
- A link to a product or services page
Respond to audience interaction.
Stay on top of messages! Replying to direct messages proves that your company cares about its clientele and will encourage users to follow your page. Replying to questions in the comments section of videos can additionally show drive and a respect for the time and attention of your viewers, leading to more followers. More users following your page leads to more views on future videos.
Optimize your caption.
A caption is a valuable opportunity to provide a descriptor to the video or to capture the attention of a user who may otherwise scroll past your video. A caption is like a blog post title; it should be appealing and eye-catching, but not so long as to make the user think they don’t need to watch the video to get the important information. It’s a teaser for the content that a viewer can get through the video or on your website. Mention related users or company using the “@” feature (for example, if you feature a meal by the chef Gordon Ramsay, include @gordongram to link to his certified personal Instagram account). Try to put the most important and attention-grabbing information first, so that users will be more tempted to stop and watch a video rather than scrolling past it.
Use hashtags to promote your video so interested Instagram users can find your video.
Hashtags are used on Instagram to direct users towards videos they’re interested in. It’s sort of like a Google search; a user searches for a particular tag, such as “#homedesign”, and videos that have that hashtags in their caption or comments will come up based on popularity and by recentness. If your company specializes in interior design, for example, you may want to include #homedesign, #design, #interiordesign, #interiordecorating, and similar tags to direct interested users towards your videos. Be careful not to include tags that are irrelevant to your product or services; if your interior design company has unrelated hashtags such as #cars or #food, your account could be flagged for spamming. We recommend using up to six hashtags on a post to be sure your account stays safe.
Embed the link to your videos on other social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
Your Facebook account may have the same number of followers as your Instagram, but the following is most likely made up of almost completely different people. Linking social media accounts spreads knowledge of your Instagram videos to other people that have already demonstrated an interest in your company but may not be aware of your Instagram account.
Link your Instagram to your website.
Almost everyone on your website is interested in your company. By linking your Instagram account on your website, you prove to viewers that your company is modernized and adapted to operate in the digital age, and can direct interested people towards your Instagram videos, offering short video promotions that may get viewers more interested in your products or services.
Post at Peak Times
If your company caters to individuals in the Eastern Time Zone, don’t post your videos at 2:00 AM EST. Posting at a time where your target audience is most likely awake and on social media will increase views as they’ll be more likely to see your post in the “recent” section of Instagram. Many diverse studies have been completed to try to find the most ideal time to post on Instagram to garner the most views, and they’ve generated equally diverse results; the generally agreed upon rule, however, is that most views will come if you post in the afternoon and evening.
Spend some time scrolling.
A study by Neil Patel found that, for every 100 posts liked, the account gained approximately 6.1 more followers. Taking the time to scroll through users in the target audience will generate increased user awareness of your account and encourage users to explore your Instagram profile. If your company specializes in homemade coffee, for example, clicking through independent coffee shops can help your target audience become more aware of your company. Using free time to like hundreds of user pictures can increase brand visibility and recognition, leading to more video views.