Two-and-a-half years after Instagram first introduced videos, the company is placing a greater emphasis on the feature.
On Tuesday, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app announced that it is expanding the length of videos from 15 to 60 seconds. It’s a feature that product manager Jeff Kanter says many of Instagram’s more than 400 million users had requested. “We think this will provide a lot of flexibility,” says Kanter, the product lead for video. “One of the things we’ve heard from creators is just how much going longer than 15 seconds would help them tell their stories.”
Instagram also is bringing back multi-clip videos for iPhone users.
Kanter teases that these updates are just some of several new features in the pipeline for video over the next year. The expanded length comes a little more than a month after the company announced the addition of a video view counter in addition to the “like” counter that appears on all photos and videos. Even though it was a small update, it signaled that Instagram was taking video seriously. A video view counter makes the audience for each video much more transparent and is an important metric for creators who use Instagram as a means of distributing content to their fans.
Instagram also has begun highlighting videos in its Explore tab, which is where it curates posts around events such as Coachella or topics like “Aquatic Adventures.”
Kanter says all of these efforts around video are a response to a growing demand from the Instagram community for that content. Although Instagram has yet to release specifics around the number of people watching videos on its platform, the company says that in the last six months video watch time has grown by 40 percent.
Creators are using Instagram video in a variety of ways. Celebrities typically snap videos to offer brief glimpses into their lives. Videos recently posted by Taylor Swift, who has more than 71 million followers on the platform, show her playing games with her brother on Easter and goofing off with boyfriend Calvin Harris while on vacation. A video from Kevin Hart, who has nearly 33 million followers, shows him dancing to Beyonce’s “Formation” while at the gym.
Others, like LGBTQ activist Raymond Braun, use the platform to communicate a message. Braun’s #VisibleMe account features personal video messages from young members of the LGBTQ community. “What I love about Instagram video is that it encourages you to communicate a compelling point in a relatively short period of time,” says Braun, who recently curated a #VisibleMe channel on the Instagram Explore page, which he says provided “more awareness for the project.”
An increased focus on video follows in the footsteps of parent company Facebook, which also has made strides to increase video viewing by adding a view counter and having videos autoplay in users’ newsfeeds.
“It’s clear that more of the world is headed toward watching video,” explains Kanter. “A lot of that is happening on mobile, and they want to come to Instagram to do that.”
Check out some of the first 60-second videos from most-followed Instagram user Selena Gomez and comedian Kevin Hart: