8
min read

Instagram Story Video Length: How Long Your Videos Should Be

Table of Contents

The maximum length for an Instagram Story video is 15 seconds. 

But if you're wondering how to get around the time constraint, here’s a simple trick: You can string multiple 15-second clips together to make a longer video sequence. 

IG Stories are short video clips that disappear after 24 hours. Stories are only visible to your followers. 

Instagram Story videos are shorter than the average “story” format of other social media platforms:

  • Facebook Stories: Up to 20 seconds
  • Snapchat Stories: Up to 60 seconds
  • WhatsApp Status: Up to 30 seconds

Story content isn't just limited to video. You can intersperse images and videos to create a more textured Story experience for your followers. Like a carousel post, viewers can tap through a mix of images and videos in your Story sequence.

How do Stories compare to other types of Instagram videos?

  • Instagram Story videos: The maximum length for an IG Story video is 15 seconds. Photos in Instagram Stories appear for 7 seconds.
  • Instagram Reels: Reels are Instagram's response to TikTok. A Reel video can last up to 60 seconds.
  • Instagram Live videos: Livestream videos shot from the Instagram app can be up to 4 hours long. They can also be uploaded in their entirety to your Story or Feed after they've ended.
  • Instagram Video: As of October 2021, IGTV video and Instagram Feed videos are now one format—Instagram Video. Video previews on the feed last up to 60 seconds. Regular accounts can upload video clips between 15 seconds and 10 minutes in length. Verified accounts or accounts with large followings can upload up to 60-minute videos.
  • Instagram Video ads: Story ads can last between 5-15 seconds. Reels ads, up to 30 seconds. And Feed video ads can last up to 60 seconds.

How to edit the length of an Instagram Story video

If you're starting with a video that's longer than 15 seconds, and you want to post it to your Stories, you have two options:

Option 1

If you want to post longer videos from your camera roll to Stories, but they exceed the 15 second limit, Instagram automatically splits the first minute of your video into 4 x 15-second story cards.

As long as the video is less than a minute, you're fine. And since you're starting with a single video, your sequence will still maintain a sense of continuity, even though it's broken into separate parts.

Instagram Story cards screenshot

Option 2

If your video is longer than a minute, Instagram will turn the first minute into 4 x 15-second cards like in Option 1, but will discard anything past the 60-second mark.

To upload the full video you’ll need to trim your content manually using Instagram's native video editing feature. Or, you can use a quality third-party video editor tool like CutStory to trim and edit your footage before posting.

CutStory app example
Instagram has a new native editing feature that lets you trim videos to the desired length. 
Credit: Instagram

Is it better to use long videos or short videos?

Long and short Stories can both work well. 

It ultimately depends on the type of content you're looking to post and how well you can capture and hold the viewer's interest. 

→ Pro tip: As a rule of thumb, the longer the story sequence, the more you'll need to incentivize users to continue watching. Keep reading for a few tips on how to do this.

But first, let’s take a look at how to make either format work for you. You’ll also learn how to make an Instagram Story video that gets people to engage.

Longer videos

Stringing several Instagram Story videos together gives you more space to share your message. 

The challenge? 

If your first video doesn't hook a user in the sequence, they will likely ignore it and tap to the next Story in their feed.

That first video has to grab their attention. Let’s take a look at how this works in practice.

Example: Everlane

Length: 90 seconds+ across multiple Story cards

Everlane sells ethical activewear, including a variety of quality denim goods. 

To communicate one of their central themes—transparency—they published a sequence of stories to educate followers on the truth about modern denim manufacturing.

But education alone isn't enough to hold people's attention. You need to incentivize them to watch your content.

Everlane Story sequence

Everlane accomplishes this with interactive polls and quizzes to increase engagement and therefore, Watch Time. This makes it easy for viewers to tap through to the end of the Story sequence.

  • Engage your audience by asking questions: Use binary yes-no engagement poll stickers (just tap a button to weigh in).
  • Use micro commitments: A small form of engagement at the start, or micro commitment, increases the odds you’ll stick through to see the end.
  • Combine education with interaction: Multiple polls interspersed with facts and insights for more engagement opportunities.

Why it works:

Everlane's first Instagram Story card opens with a simple question that immediately grabs your attention: "Denim is notoriously dirty… Do you know why?" 

The hook in the first second of the video determines whether or not a user is sticking around to watch the rest of the Story. 

Everlane interspersed "question" cards with "education" cards, which makes the educational experience fun and interactive, and makes it easy for people to tap through the full Story sequence.

Shorter videos

Once upon a time, there was an app called Vine. Vine videos were 6 seconds long and could tell entire stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Shorter instagram Story videos—under 15 seconds using a single Story card—can be highly effective and addictive too.

The key is remembering they need to stop a user in their casual Story swiping. You have to grab their attention, just like longer videos. 

Let’s look at an example from a company that sells custom couches DTC and see why it works.

Example: CouchHaus

Length: 14 seconds

  • Design for sound-off: Most people don’t watch Instagram with sound on. This is true of Stories and most other IG video placements. Be sure that your content doesn’t require sound to understand. Use captions to communicate the key points.
  • Quick video cuts: Within this single 15-second Story card, there are at least six different video clips strung together to tell a simple coherent story. This adds motion and visual variety, which keeps you watching. In just 14 seconds, you've learned exactly how the product works and what makes it interesting.

Why it works

While not necessarily the norm for Stories content (most are filmed spontaneously), this short video is heavily-edited to make the content shorter and easier to consume.

In a single Story card, CouchHaus walks you through the entire process of ordering a custom couch online. They use captions to communicate value props, and visuals to show off the product and simple order process.

If you strip away the video, you're left with a clear testimonial that explains the product and speaks to its value props:

  • Custom couches online: I designed a custom couch on CouchHaus.
  • Easy process: The process was so easy.
  • Wide selection: I picked the color, fabric, and size.
  • Pet-friendly: I chose the performance fabric, which is perfect for pets.
  • Easy to clean: It's easy to keep clean, and it looks amazing in my house.
  • Positive experience: I never knew it would be that easy.

Pro tip

If you're going to invest the amount of time and energy to create a video like this, make sure to repurpose it in as many places as you can.

For instance, this example is clearly a repurposed social ad, but it still works as an organic Story post. The same principles that make this CouchHaus video effective apply to all social ads and social media platforms.

How to make an IG Story video

There are several ways to do it. Here’s an easy tutorial:

Step 1

Log in to your Instagram account. Tap the “Your Story” icon in the top left of the Instagram app on iPhone, iOS device, or Android. You’ll jump straight into the camera.

create a Story post

Step 2

Shoot a video in the default “Normal” mode or drag the side menu to any of the following video modes:

Instagram Stories sidebar settings

Create

Use text, music, stickers and GIFs to bring your Story videos to life. You can also use a number of interactive features to increase engagement with your Stories posts, including: 

  • Shoutouts: @ another account in your Story.
  • Polls, Questions, and Quizzes: Let your audience engage with your Stories. 
  • Donations: Build goodwill by asking for donations to a good cause.
  • Countdown timers: Drive urgency for product launches and special events.
  • Gifs, stickers, templates: Use visual overlays to enhance your content. 

Boomerang

Videos that play forward. Then play backward. Then forward again.

Layout

Divide your Story video into various grid patterns. 

Hands-free

Record without holding the button down. Or, select a video from your camera roll, simply by swiping up.

Multi-capture

Take up to 8 photos at a time, in quick succession.

Dual

Record video using both camera lenses simultaneously.

Level

Displays an on-screen level to help orient your shot.

Step 3

Your video preview should now be looping. Tap the arrow icon in the bottom right of the video to instantly post the video to your Instagram Story.

Tap "Your Story" to post your video.

post Story video

Tip: To upload multiple videos to your Stories sequence, consider using a tool like Sked Social to upload assets in bulk rather than one-by-one.

Instagram Stories tips

There’s no right way to make an Instagram Story video. But here are some tips to help you get started:

Optimize for the format

Instagram Story videos are always vertical. They’re designed to be watched on your phone. So when you’re creating content, be sure that it’s also natively vertical. If it isn’t, Instagram automatically adapts it to the Story format. But vertical videos that are designed for the platform tend to have higher engagement than non-native videos.

Keep it casual

You don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on expensive video equipment. Video recorded from a smartphone works just fine. In fact, many times phone footage outperforms high-production video because it feels more natural and less like marketing.

Use Instagram add-ons

There are infinite ways you can deck out your Instagram Story videos. Draw all over them. Use hashtags, emojis, polls, and text to spice them up. These make your videos pop and make them more engaging. And they fit how Instagram users use the Stories placement.

Turn your top Story videos into highlights

Instagram Story videos last for 24 hours. Then they’re gone. But you can turn your Story videos into highlights that stick around on your profile forever. This is a great way to feature your best Story content.

Everlane Story Highlights

Reshare Story video posts you’re tagged in

If you’re tagged in another user’s Instagram post, you can re-share their post to your Story. This is a great way to feature happy customers shouting out your brand. And sharing that enthusiasm with the rest of your audience.

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