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How to Use Video Content on Instagram to Boost Retail Sales

The importance of video in marketing is rarely debated anymore. With video expected to make up more than 82% of all internet traffic by 2022, it’s clear that you need to use it if you want to stay relevant with your audience and competitors. And if you own a retail business, one of the best places to connect with your customers through video is on Instagram.

The Benefits of Video on Instagram

Creating great video content is a big investment. You have to dedicate more time and resources towards it than other types of content, such as blogs or photos. However, videos can really pay off. According to a survey by video creation platform Wyzowl, 76% of marketers say that publishing video content has helped them increase sales. The survey also notes that 81% of people are convinced to purchase a product or service after watching a brand’s video.

Specifically on Instagram, 44% of marketers planned on using video on the platform in last year and 78% of those already using video found it to be an effective strategy. These numbers are significant and should influence how your retail business approaches Instagram.

However, it’s important to be aware that when you create a video for social media, you need to have a specific platform in mind where you want to share it. “One mistake brands make is to think that Instagram and other image-sharing sites and applications are all interchangeable; they’re not. Each one has its own culture,” says Mehroz Khan, the co-founder of digital agency, StartupBug, and video creation company, Video Explainers. “Instagram is the site where brands show fans who they are; it’s about shaping perceptions about a brand’s personality.”

So when you approach your Instagram video strategy, you need to create videos that will appeal to your audience there. Whether you want to entertain that existing audience to retain customers or grow your followers to boost sales and traffic to your store, video is a great way to get things moving.

Taking a photo for an Instagram Story video

Best Practices for Instagram Video

There are a few types of videos on Instagram and they have different requirements for length, sizing, and strategy.

In-Feed Videos & Ads

Both videos that you post to your company’s profile or that you publish as an in-feed ad can only be up to sixty seconds long. Use a 1:1 or 1.9:1 aspect ratio to ensure that your videos display correctly.

Because these videos are automatically played without sound in the feed, you can use the caption to draw in your viewer or help explain the content. Write a quick, snappy, and smart caption that reflects your brand story and voice. Don’t make it too long, though. Instagram is a visual platform and a lengthy caption will make your audience want to keep scrolling.

While you have a full sixty seconds, you should only make your videos as long as they need to be. Use every second wisely to get your point across and tell a story that keeps your viewers engaged. Plus, AdEspresso suggests that “audience-focused content is important. Your goals matter, but if your audience isn’t into it, there’s no point.”

As with any Instagram post, you should respond to your audience’s comments as much as possible. It will increase your engagement rate, which is important if you want Instagram’s algorithm to promote your content more heavily in people’s feeds. It will also help people engage with your brand and show them that you care about their customer experience.

If you want to use these videos to drive sales, make sure to include a call-to-action. For example, use a video ad to link to products on your website or another piece of content that continues engaging them.

Taking a video for Instagram with a photobooth at Fourpost MSP’s grand opening party


A story on Instagram can only be fifteen seconds long, which means your videos have to be short, snappy, and highly engaging. While you can string multiple stories together to create a longer video, Instagram Stories are made to be brief. So if you have a longer video, AdEspresso suggests breaking it down and using it “to tell a cohesive story in small, digestible chunks.”

While Instagram is already mainly used on mobile, Stories are even more mobile-oriented. This means your videos can and should be vertical if you want them to fill the screen. You can also get playful with stickers, emojis, and drawing tools to make your content pop.

The best part of Stories is that they aren’t affected by Instagram’s algorithm yet like in-feed posts. This means you have a greater chance to reach your audience organically. And with 400 million people using Instagram Stories daily, you have a better chance at growing your audience with this type of content than with regular posts.

Instagram Stories has some best practices you should follow as well. You can add flare and drive engagement by adding stickers, such as polls, hashtags, and mentions, as well as gifs. If you’ve invested a lot of time and effort into your Story, then extend its life by adding it to your brand’s Story Highlights, which are featured on your Instagram profile. Plus, if you have over 10,000 followers, you can use the Stories’ swipe up feature to link people out to your website.

The Types of Video to Create for Instagram

Whether or not you include a direct link from your Instagram videos to your website, they’re valuable because they increase brand awareness, inform viewers about your products, and help retain your customers.

There are several ways you can create videos, and the method you choose will depend on the type of video you’re producing. For example, if you’re creating a high-quality brand story or commercial, you will probably want to work with a video production company to help you make it from start to finish. However, if you know exactly what you want to shoot, you can hire a freelancer to film it or help you edit it together. You can also consider other options, such as collecting UGC (user-generated content) like videos or photos from your fans and creating content with it. Or using platforms like Slidely or Adobe Spark to easily edit video and photo slideshows with animated text.

For example, Dunkin’ Donuts used still images to create a very short, engaging, and gif-like video for Mother’s Day:

Here are a few types of video that work well on Instagram:

Brand Awareness Videos

Brand awareness or branding videos are videos that tell a story about your brand or just generally make people aware that your brand exists. They don’t necessarily try to sell anything to your viewers, but are often entertaining, educational, emotional, and engaging. They can be anything from the fun piece by Oreo below to a short documentary on how your brand got started.

They can even tell stories about the reason your brand exists or the people it helps, such as this video from Still Kickin.

Product Videos

Product videos tell a story about your products or promote one of them. This type of video is great for driving sales and informing your viewers why your product is the best choice.

For example, this product video from Fourpost brand Polaroid Originals introduces viewers to their OneStep+ camera and highlights its different features.

How-To Videos

How-tos are great videos to use if you want to teach your viewers something new. These are educational videos, but they should also be highly-engaging and fun to watch with interesting visuals. For example, Buzzfeed’s Tasty publishes a lot of quick recipe videos that are high-quality and visually-compelling. They’re less driven by storytelling than branding videos, but they still appeal to people’s emotions and pique their curiosity.

Behind-the-Scenes Videos

If your company is hosting an event or just having a fun day at your retail store, take a quick video and post it on Instagram Stories. There’s no need to really edit this type of content as viewers love to watch raw, behind-the-scenes content. This kind of video does well because viewers know it’s authentic and it gives them an inside peek at the workings of a brand they already love.

UGC Video

If you already have a lot of engaged fans, ask them to send you videos or photos of them with your products. Or create hashtags that they can engage and tag your brand with, then ask their permission to use that content. This type of video can be really powerful because it basically works as a testimonial that feels genuine and entertaining.

GoPro is a master at this type of content, gathering and publishing videos from their customers around the world.

Promoting Videos on Instagram

Whatever type of video you create, you need to have a plan in place to promote it. A great way to do this is to collaborate with a brand that has a similar audience to yours and create a video together. Your brands can cross-promote, which will help you gain followers and boost your retail sales. Just make sure that if you are cross-promoting that you give your customers a clear call-to-action, so that all businesses involved are benefiting.

You can also turn your videos into ads to help you promote, publish them on other social platforms (as long as they’re optimized for that platform), or ask some of your biggest fans to share.