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5 Tips for Uploading Video to Instagram

Instagram. Instagram. Instagram.

Feels like the only social network you hear about recently. Especially when it comes to marketing for businesses. The social media platform’s marketing possibilities are endless, and if your brand isn’t using video to increase their engagement, shareability, and image on Instagram, well… you might be falling behind. But that’s okay, better late than never!

Instagram allows videos up to a minute long to be posted directly to your feed. However, you can upload up to 60 MINUTES of 4K FOOTAGE to IGTV! Yes, you heard that correctly. Oh, and how much does this awesome video marketing platform cost? Absolutely nothing, of course.

Unfortunately, so often I see people making errors when uploading video to Instagram. Errors that are easily avoidable and decrease the value that you could be getting out of your content. This is why I’m going to be going over five tips for uploading video to Instagram to ensure that you are getting the most out of your videos and keeping your feed looking neat and professional.

1. Choose a cover. Choose a cover. Choose a cover.

I cannot stress this enough. Please, for the love of your Instagram feed, CHOOSE A COVER when uploading videos. This is something which I see so often and I’m personally guilty of doing from time to time as well, forcing me to delete my video and re-upload it. And when you re-upload a post, for some reason the Instagram algorithm doesn’t put the reuploaded content out to as many people, causing your post to tank.

So, it’s super important to get it right the first time and choose that cover! After selecting the video you’d like to upload, you’ll find yourself on the “Filter” screen. At the bottom of your screen, you now have two other screens you can navigate to which are “Trim” and “Cover”. Before you click next, navigate to the “Cover” screen and scroll through your video to choose a cover for your post.

If you don’t choose a cover, Instagram will automatically choose the first frame of the video and use that as the cover when you upload. If it’s a video that was made by a production company or videographer, the first frame of the video is typically black because they will have added a fade-in transition (see “Feed” screen below). And this black square on your feed isn’t very #Aesthetic or #Goals of you. So, avoid it by always choosing a cover that looks good!

2. Vertical or Landscape or Square?

So many choices! Which one should you choose? Well, that totally depends on what you’re trying to do and what kind of video you have. Almost everyone consumes Instagram content on their mobile phone. Mobile phones have vertical screens, so, if you want to fill up your viewer's screen with your awesome video content, then definitely go vertical. Vertical is typically best if your video consists mostly of close-ups and tighter shots because you won’t lose as much information if you have to crop out the two sides.

Landscape is the most classic video format. With widescreen videos, you get more information across to the person watching. Viewers get to see everything that the camera sees, and nothing gets cut off. The widescreen effect is awesome when you are trying to show off large spaces or have a lot of wide shots with moving subjects. However, landscape videos can sometimes feel small while watching them on your mobile phone on Instagram. So, if you have the type of demographic which might benefit from larger content (I think you understand what I’m saying here), you might want to keep that in mind!

If you’re looking for a nice in-between, then square is always there! This gives you the best of both worlds, keeping your content from being cropped, but taking up more of the viewer's screen making it easier to see.

3. Uploading video on Android? You might need to find an iPhone.

If you have an Android, there’s currently a bug that affects your uploading capabilities. Instagram for Android does not allow you to change the format of your video uploads. Unfortunately, it only allows you to upload your videos as a square. Which, if you created a video with the intent to upload as landscape or vertical, will cause you to lose information by cropping out the sides or the top and the bottom. This might cause text to get caught off, shots to be framed strangely, and your followers to cringe.

The glitch lies on the “New Post” page where you select the video you are planning on uploading. For some reason, on Android, you are unable to hit the button I’ve circled in red below. This button switches the format of your video and lets you decide how you want to upload. On Android, if you hit this button, it will show that your video format has changed, but when you upload, you’ll see that it actually did not. This is a weird bug that has been around for a while and there is nothing you can do about it other than wait for an update. So, for now, find someone with an iPhone to do the video uploading for you!

4. Don’t apply a filter to colour corrected/graded footage.

Did you have a video created for your brand, business, or organization by a professional videographer or production company? If you did, it’s very likely that the video creator has already expertly colour corrected and colour graded the video.

Colour correcting is one of the final steps of post-production. Editors have to go through their video and make adjustments to the video’s exposure, highlights, shadows, and colours. They do this by using complex tools such as RGB curves, lighting scopes, and colour wheels within their editing software. It takes a lot of work and a lot of expertise but can make a HUGE difference to the quality of the video.

Colour grading is when editors apply a “look” to a video. An Instagram filter applied to a video is a form of colour grading footage. Grading can take some serious time and tweaking for an editor to get the look and feel that the video needs.

If you have footage that has already been colour corrected and colour graded, applying a filter on top of that will completely change the way the video was meant to look, usually in a negative way. Also, the person who put in all that hard work making every single clip look excellent will be very, very sad.

5. Keep videos on your story short and vertical.

If you’re uploading video to your Instagram story, it will look way better if it’s in vertical format and people will be more likely to watch it if it’s kept short.

If you have a longer video that is landscape, you could make a shorter “teaser” video for your Instagram story which directs them to the longer landscape video on your feed. This is something I do for clients all the time as it doesn’t take too much more effort to create a short vertical teaser video, but it can have a huge impact on follower engagement.

Remember, Instagram is a free service and an awesome marketing tool. It’s one of the most, if not the most, important platforms for businesses, brands, and people to gain a follower base that engages and shares their content. So, when you’re uploading video to Instagram, make sure you use these tips to ensure you’re getting the most out of your content!

Mac Thomson is co-founder of NO SALT Productions. No Salt is a small production company based in Southern Ontario that creates incredibly eye-catching and visually stunning videos for those companies who want to take their online presence to the next level.

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