January 22, 2021 Marketplace

Using Instagram Video for E-Commerce

Using Instagram Video for E-Commerce

Instagram marketing is vital to any serious e-commerce business. The stats alone should make online marketers sit up and take notice. If your brand isn’t on Instagram, you’d better climb on board. And quickly.

This October, Instagram celebrates 10 years in the social media world, and it’s grown in leaps and bounds since then. The platform began as a photo-posting app and is now a major player as a sales channel for online businesses. Beyond photos and basic videos, Instagram allows both personal and business accounts to upload feature-filled videos via Reels, IGTV, Stories, and Live.

Instagram has maintained its user base consistently over the past two years, and in 2019, the percentage of U.S. adults who use Instagram rose from 35% to 37%. The active monthly users has remained steady at 1 billion people, and more than 500 million daily users. That is a huge online audience of potential shoppers! Video marketing is no longer just for companies with big budgets.

This summer, the U.S. and other countries considered banning TikTok due to privacy concerns. Since then, Instagram has launched new features that are quite similar to what users find with TikTok. This new set of mobile features, which can be accessed in the Stories section of the Instagram app, is known as Instagram Reels.


Show Off Your Business: Instagram Reels

Instagram rolled out Reels in August of 2020. Online businesses should hop on this quickly, focusing on building community to drive engagement. An example of the best use of Reels is behind-the-scenes videos and tutorials that show how your products work, how they’re made or ways customers can use them. Videos are valuable at building trust and making connections so customers can get in touch with the personal side of your business. Links to products and services are useful, but engaging with your customers is the key advantage here.

The only downside to Reels is that it is too similar to Stories and IGTV, and as such can be a bit confusing for users.


  • Short-form video content in full 9:16 portrait mode
  • Can only be from 3–15 seconds in length
  • Videos can be filmed directly within the Reels camera and/or uploaded from a camera roll on a mobile device
  • Can be filmed as one full take or a series of takes stitched together
  • Videos can only be uploaded on mobile devices.

Connecting with Customers: Instagram TV (IGTV)

By 2021, mobile video is expected to account for 78% of total mobile data traffic. Instagram introduced IGTV in 2018 in an effort to mimic YouTube’s success, but within the Instagram platform. While Instagram Stories videos max out at 15 seconds or one minute (video feed posts), IGTV allows up to 10 minutes for regular business accounts and up to one hour for verified accounts.

Like Reels, IGTV is also useful for how-to videos, new product showcasing, and promotional announcements. To be sure, this is a low-budget way to connect with an audience.

Share Your Story: Instagram Stories

Stories mirrors the attention span of social media users in short 15-second videos that last only 24 hours, emulating Snapchat. After an update in 2019, Instagram began allowing users to automatically clip videos that are longer than 15 seconds into individual 15-second segments. 

Interactive stickers, music, tags, and filters can add to videos for more unique experiences. A Swipe Up feature is enabled for accounts with 10K followers, allowing users to navigate to web links or product pages.

Live Q&As: Instagram Live

A live streaming service within the Stories section of IG that’s trending in 2020, allows you to have live Q&A sessions about products or services with your customers, and record the session for people to watch later as well.

Keep a constant live schedule, for instance every Thursday at 7pm.

More Than Just Photos: Instagram Video

Introduced in 2013, basic videos can be anywhere from 3 to 60 second in length, and will stay in your main feed indefinitely. Videos that run longer than that are automatically continued on IGTV. Another option is to create a carousel post featuring multiple videos by tapping the “album” icon on the right side of the screen.

Make sure you use sound, and also subtitles because the default for users watching your video is sound off, and most people don’t usually turn sound on unless your video says “sound on!” or something to let them know that audio is an integral part of the video. 

The Takeaway: Budget-Friendly Engagement

Beyond the statistics on user daily and monthly engagement, there are plenty of other reasons to invest in Instagram videos. Among them, video gives you the ability to share complex, personal, relatable and in-depth stories that can’t be conveyed in a single photograph or static gallery.

Whether you want to build awareness around a campaign, promote your new products and services, or educate your audience, videos offer much greater storytelling reach to the customers who matter most to your business.

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