Making a Video for Instagram: Video Specs & Best Practices

Instagram is quickly becoming the go-to social media platform for video content. With 4 video formats to choose from, any brand can leverage Instagram to generate awareness, promote engagement, and even drive sales.

With that being said, Instagram is not the most intuitive video platform to use. Multiple video formats with different specifications makes devising an effective video content strategy more complex than it needs to be.

With that in mind, we’ve assembled a short primer on Instagram video specs and best practices to help you get the most out Instagram video content.

Instagram Video Types & Specs

There are 4 types of Instagram video:

  • Instagram Video (formerly IGTV)
  • Instagram Stories
  • Instagram Reels
  • Instagram Live

Each type has unique specifications in terms of resolution, duration, file size, file type, and place in Instagram’s UI. Let’s go over each.

Instagram Video

Instagram Video is the replacement for the now-defunct InstagramTV feature. These videos appear in-feed as regular posts, and are otherwise similar to Instagram image posts. They can be enhanced with filters, location tags, and captions. You can like them, comment on them, and share them via Instagram Stories and direct messages. They are accessible through the Video tab on your profile page.

Instagram Video has the following specifications:

  • Maximum File Size: 4GB
  • Recommended file type: MP4, MOV, GIF
  • Recommended resolution: at least 1080 x 1080
  • Supported aspect ratio: 4:5, 1.19:1, 9:16
  • Video duration: up to 60 minutes

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are short-form videos with a 24-hour lifespan. Stories appear in a dedicated section at the top of Instagram’s UI. They support filters, emojis, tags, stickers, and even links to other websites (provided you have a verified account or at least 10000 followers). You can preserve expired stories by adding them to the Highlights section of a your Instagram profile.

Instagram Stories have the following specifications:

  • Maximum File Size: 4GB
  • Recommended file type: MP4, MOV
  • Recommended resolution: at least 1080 x 1920
  • Supported aspect ratio: 9:16, 16:9, 4:5
  • Video duration: up to 15 seconds

Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels are the latest addition to the platform. They share many similarities with TikTok’s short-form videos, including support for timed text, AR filters, green screen backgrounds, speed controls, and music effects. Users can view Reels in their main feeds, through the Reels tab, and on their profile page.

Instagram Reels have the following specifications:

  • Maximum File Size: 4GB
  • Recommended file type: MP4, MOV
  • Recommended resolution: at least 500 x 888
  • Supported aspect ratio: 9:16, 4:5, 191:100
  • Video duration: up to 60 seconds

Instagram Live

Instagram Live is used for broadcasting live video content. It supports many of the same features as Instagram Stories such as filters, emojis, tags, and stickers. It also supports live-chat with viewers. You can share replays of the broadcast on your main feed, as well as access it privately through the Live Archive on your profile page.

Instagram Live has the following specifications:

  • Maximum File Size: /
  • Recommended file type: /
  • Recommended resolution: at least 1080 x 1920
  • Supported aspect ratio: 9:16, 16:9, 4:5
  • Video duration: up to 4 hours

Instagram Video Best Practices

So far we’ve only covered the technical aspects of Instagram video. Now we’ll share some practical advice on how to make quality video content for Instagram. Here are 7 things to keep in mind.

1. Achieving High Production Values

High production values are key to making your content stand out on Instagram. Most people associate high production values with expensive recording equipment, but the truth is that you can get a lot of mileage out of low-end equipment if you pay attention to certain video making fundamentals.

For instance, recording in bright daylight will make your videos appear crisp even if you’re recording from an older generation phone camera. Similarly, recording audio in a quite, isolated space will go a long way towards making your audio sound clear.

2. Choosing the Right Content Type

Instagram supports 4 types of video content. Utilizing each type effectively is essential for a successful Instagram content strategy. This requires a thorough understanding of each of the 4 video content types, so you can adjust your content to leverage the benefits of each.

For example, Instagram stories have a limited lifespan, so they’re best used for generating short-term impressions. This makes them perfect for product announcements, notifications, and daily highlights. By contrast, Instagram Videos allow for long-form content, so they’re better used for product presentations, video guides, and other forms of evergreen content.

3. Paying Attention to Tone

Tone refers to the general mood your videos are likely to evoke in the audience. Choosing the right tone for your videos is more art than science, as everyone tends to respond differently based on their needs, wants, and desires. Failing to set the tone properly will leave your audience confused. Doing it right is a surefire way to elicit engagement.

It is difficult to translate tone into a technical guideline for making content, but here are some thing to keep in mind. Vivid colors and plenty of light pair well with upbeat, lively content, whereas drab colors will give your content a more somber, serious tone. Speaking slowly is better if you want to highlight the information value of your content, whereas talking quickly is better suited for content targets the senses and emotions.

4. Adopting a Publishing Strategy

What you publish on Instagram is as important as when and how you do it. A video can be a part of a longer series or a one-off. It can come out daily, weekly, monthly, or only certain events. It can share tone with other videos you publish, compliment them by adopting a similar tone, or highlight their differences by completely different in tone. As a result, your publishing strategy should always take timing, consistency and frequency into account.

As a general rule of thumb, the best time to publish video is when your users are most active on Instagram. In terms of frequency, you want to hit a sweetspot where users are not overwhelmed by the quantity of your content. As for consistency, you should maintain a stable content schedule to keep your audience invested in the long-term.

5. Adding CTAs

CTA stands for call-to-action, and refers to actions you want your viewers to take upon viewing your content. They are the essential component of Instagram video marketing. Without CTAs, you’re content might get views, but you will fail to extract any value from them. Conversely, a few well-placed CTAs are a great engine for generating sales, subscriptions, and brand awareness.

CTAs can be direct or indirect. Direct CTAs include buttons, links, and other widgets you can include in an Instagram video which let users perform the desired action directly. Indirect CTAs include shoutouts, text instructions, and other methods of inviting users to performs some action. Direct CTAs are best utilized in Instagram Stories, whereas indirect ones work well with livestreams and long-form videos.


Instagram is an indispensable part of any video content marketing strategy. It offers multiple video content formats and tools, which makes it easy to develop focused marketing campaigns. And with the popularity of video content still on the rise globally, now is the best time to start leveraging it for your brand.

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