The app that became a massive part of my brand, business, and legacy is changing. The CEO of Instagram recently announced that they’re no longer just a square photo-sharing app. It’s been a gradual but very real boil — Video is now a major focus on Instagram, like because of the other video apps like TikTok soaking up valuable user engagement.
Natasha Samuel is a fellow Instagram educator, and she’s been helping her students show up on the app with confidence. I’m excited to chat with her about all the changes to the platform and explore ways to incorporate all-important video content into your strategy… Even if it feels intimidating as you get started. We’re talking about Reels, Instagram Live, IGTV, and Stories, and how to incorporate each of the video options into a holistic content strategy. She shares her advice for efficient content creation and best practices to gain the most traction on the app.
Jenna: How did you get started in the world of social media?
Natasha: My background actually started in journalism. I really loved telling stories, capturing stories. So I was kind of writing for a lot of online publications, newspapers, and that was what I was studying in college. And as I kind of started to dive more into things like digital marketing and public relations, I started really diving into social media because that’s become a huge part of how stories are told. I launched my business while I was still in college, started doing social media for clients and then went full time and really pivoted to Instagram. So that’s kind of like the long story short, but it’s definitely been a whirlwind.
Instagram’s Video Announcement
Jenna: I want to hear your take on it, but when the CEO of Instagram announced video’s the focus, we’re not just a photo sharing app, video is king or queen, how did you feel about that and what do you make of that announcement?
Natasha: I wasn’t surprised. I was like, whoa, this is very solidifying. They’re saying what I feel like we’ve already seen happening, but I think I was very overwhelmed with how panicked people were. I kind of was like, have you been on Instagram? Things have been changing for years. And when I really was sitting down and thinking about it, you know, ‘Stories’ is really what paved that way, and if we all think back to when ‘Stories’ first came on the Instagram app, we were like heck, no! What is this? Take it off… Now, I think stories have become arguably one of the most important parts of Instagram in my opinion.
But then after 2019, there’s IGTV and then in 2020, [Instagram Lives] really took center stage, and then at the end of 2020, we had ‘Reels’. So when I look at it from a bird’s eye view, this has been a timeline of things that have just been gradually happening.
It’s all about experimenting and there’s not one right way to do it. I don’t take these things as being the only way. We are the CEO of our marketing strategy, so we can figure out how to make video work for us.
Importance of Video
Jenna: Would you say video is non-negotiable for the app?
Natasha: Yes. I can imagine all my clients listening right now. Like, “Oh my gosh, she yells at us!” No, I don’t yell at them, but I highly encourage them! Yes, I think the video needs to be non-negotiable and I think ‘Stories’ is the first and foremost step that you need to take. It leads to those direct messages, which are so valuable. It’s the most intimate way that you can engage with your audience on a daily, regular basis. So I think, if anything, ‘Stories’ definitely need to be non-negotiable. When we’re talking about IGTV, Lives, and ‘Reels’, I think we need to at least be on one of the other types [of video].
Natasha covered the basics of video options on Instagram.
Natasha: We’re talking about five different surfaces total with Instagram — feed, ‘Stories’, ‘Reels’, IGTV, and Lives. I like to break it down. Instead of thinking of these five monsters, we just need to think of two main parts. So ‘Stories’ are their own little world on Instagram, their own place that people are engaging and absorbing and connecting with you. I would argue maybe 50% of people just go to your ‘Stories’.
Then of course we have your Feed, but your Feed isn’t what we used to think…You can share an IGTV and Live replay to your Feed, and then we also have Instagram ‘Reels’, which can be shared to the Feed. I like to share all of these to your feed to get the best reach possible.
Where to Begin with Video on Instagram
Jenna: What would you say is a starting place or where to begin, or maybe even the kind of lowest barrier to entry to get started with video, and how do you scale up from there?
Natasha: First of all, what platform do you enjoy the most? There’s a big difference between what you are not comfortable with yet and where you genuinely feel like you thrive. I also like to break it down with capacity. I think that’s not something that we talk about enough in the world of Instagram, but how much time and energy do you have to pour into these video types?
Circling back to ‘Stories’, non-negotiable. Figure out what cadence makes sense for you and then go to your Feed. What types of videos are you going to share to your Feed that makes sense? Is it a ‘Reel’, is it IGTV? And stick to that and ideally, yes, we want to scale where you’re including all of those. You can do that down the road once we get you consistent with what you’re already doing,
Jenna: You and I share this mutual adoration for batch working and being really thoughtful when it comes to content creation. So walk me through how you plan out your content, how you record it. What does that look like?
Natasha: The most important step, if you take anything with creating video, is that you need to do an outline. First, that is where you’re going to basically create your content. The biggest thing I see people do is that you want to go live, you want to create a ‘Reel’ and you think that just by putting up your phone, that you’re just going to create the content, but you’re thinking during the process, then you’re getting overwhelmed, then it’s taking a ton of time.
So what is that content idea? And then what are the main points that you want to include in it? What are the tips? Then I like to add in extras as well becasue I think this is something that people miss in their outlines. If I’m filming video content, do I need props? Am I doing transitions? Am I using a certain type of audio? Do I need to do outfit changes? I outline every single piece of video I make. And it might seem like an additional step, but it’s going to help you.
More from Natasha Samuel
Where can you find inspiration for video content? What is Natasha’s advice for getting started with Instagram Lives today? Could a content series work for you?
Natasha Samuel is a wealthy of information on all things video for Instagram, so press play to hear the full conversation and be sure to follow @shinewithnatasha for more advice and Insta-inspo!