The Best Instagram Video Format And Specifications To Use

Koushik Marka
December 7, 2019

If you've clicked on this blog, you already know how crucial Instagram video marketing is.

Let’s say you’ve come up with video content for your business and you’re an inch away from uploading it.

Are you sure about it already?

Adding videos on your Instagram is not a very difficult task, anybody with a mobile phone can do that. However, are you using the best Instagram video format?

That’s an important question to be addressed. Along with relevant video content, using the right video settings for Instagram will give your business the best outcome.

So, here we go.

In this blog, I will be covering:

  • Instagram video dimensions and length
  • More video specifications to look out for

At the end of this blog, you will have all the knowledge needed to come up with videos that take you one step higher than your competition.

It’s a lot of technicality hereafter, so you'll have to bear with me. But trust me, you’re going to thank me at the end of it.

All set? Let’s get started.

As we all know, Instagram video requirements differ according to the platform they’re being posted on. Optimizing your video for Instagram’s different platforms will reap rich rewards. 

Here are the specifications for these platforms:

Instagram Feed Video Format

Instagram Feed Video Format

For videos in your feed, Instagram supports videos in three possible ways:

Square in-feed video:

  • Minimum Resolution- 600*600 pixels
  • Aspect Ratio- 1:1 

The ideal resolution for a square video is 1080*1080 pixels.

Square videos were once the only kind of video that Instagram allowed you to share. Even with the introduction of vertical and horizontal formats, square videos have managed to stay on top of their game.

 They saw great peaks of success because of their placement on your news feeds. They cover the ideal amount of space on your screen.  

When they appear on your screen, the video along with the caption is displayed. This gives maximum information to the user in a jiffy, without demanding much effort from the user’s side. You can use this to keep your audience from getting distracted.

Vertical in-feed video:

  • Minimum Resolution- 600*750 pixels
  • Aspect Ratio- 4:5

To make the most out of it, we would recommend a resolution of 1080*1350 pixels.

Vertical videos too take up good space in your feed because of their placement. They cover the entire screen, not letting any other post to obstruct its presence. 

This helps in retaining your audience’s attention. You could focus on your subject or add more text in your video to do so.

However, unlike square videos, the entire post will be not visible to the user. The caption might be covered below for which the user will have to scroll down. If you think your video’s content will compensate for that loss, what are you waiting for? 

Horizontal in-feed video:

  • Minimum Resolution - 600*315 pixels 
  • Aspect Ratio - 16:9

We would recommend using 1080*608 pixels for an amazing outcome.

Horizontal videos are displayed in the landscape format on your screen. They are perfect for making videos involving sceneries and multiple subjects. However, they occupy less space in the feed making it likelier for the users to get distracted.

The time limit for all in-feed videos remain the same, 60 seconds.

With these 60 seconds, you could come up with ideas that have the capability to build brand awareness and promote your products with content that is engaging. 

For instance, this post created by Oreo is a great example of engaging content on the Instagram feed.

The makers of this video were smart enough to make this video with maximum visual content. The lack of a captivating background score did not deter the effectiveness of the video as the visuals were engaging enough to attract potential customers.  

Instagram feed videos by default play on mute. And seldom will users click that unmute button. So, make sure your content gives the users as little to do as possible. 

The trick here is to create content as visual as possible. Your video should be strong enough to convey the message without any audio. 

Another effective way to go about this is by using subtitles.

If you have a feeling that your video’s content cannot be bound within 60 seconds, I have got good news for you buddy, Instagram has got your back.

Instagram Carousel Feed Video Format

The Carousel post feature allows you to post 2-10 cards in one single post.

Use this feature when you have a video that is more than 60 seconds or if you wish to add more than one video to your post.

These posts are your go-to if you’re looking to cover multiple concepts that are related.

For example, let’s say you have a product with multiple features. You could use one card for each feature, making accommodations for 10 such features. This makes your content look like it’s in the form of a story, making it more engaging.  

To make a carousel video, you will first require a video editor app to trim the length. This will be readily available on your phone. If not, you could always download one online.

There are a number of great video editing apps you can use like Quik, Inshot and Life Lapse. 

Now that you have the app, go ahead and trim your video into minute-long sections as required. Your video would be ready to upload after it is done. Go ahead and post it.

The specifications and duration are the same as that for Instagram square videos on the feed. The recommended resolution for a carousel post is 1080*1080 pixels.

You still might be wondering "How do I post videos longer than a minute on Instagram?".

Well, Instagram does not stop with just two places to upload your videos.

IGTV Video Format

IGTV Video format

IGTV, unlike the IG feed videos, only has two possible ways of display. They are in the form of horizontal and vertical videos.  

If you are looking to upload a video on IGTV, here are a few specs to be considered:

  • Minimum resolution - 720 pixels 
  • Aspect ratio:
  • Horizontal - 16:9
  • Vertical - 9:16

And what about the time limit IGTV gives you? 

It gives 15 minutes for a normal user and 60 minutes for a verified account. However, you can upload a video of 60 minutes long only from your desktop.

 Let me ask you this, is it just me or is 15 minutes actually a lot of time for a video?

Well, it's perfect for long-form video content where you can show off your knowledge and expertise. IGTV is the best platform on Instagram if you’re looking to make content that is educational and informative in nature. 

You have to make sure that the video you want to upload should be of the MP4 format, no other format will be accepted.

Now, if you’re thinking about how to make use of IGTV, I’ll give you a small example.

Hubspot is a developer and marketer of software products for inbound marketing and sales. In this IGTV video, the narrator covers all the aspects that can be considered as the crucial factors for a start-up. He does this in under 8 minutes, making sure his message has been conveyed efficiently.

IGTV is the best place to elaborate and touch the most important aspects of your product or service whether it's directly or indirectly.

Instagram Live Video Format

Instagram Live Video Format

Instagram Live videos could possibly be the most interactive form of video available.

Unlike the other kinds of videos on Instagram, this is not a video that is pre-recorded and posted. The profile going live cannot make edits or changes to the video. This makes live videos spontaneous. It brings about a feeling of authenticity for you among the users.

This real-time interaction also gives your audience a sense of belonging and makes them feel like a part of your community.

Instagram live is the ideal platform to build stronger ties with your audience by answering FAQs, live streaming events and sharing behind-the-scenes videos.

The Instagram video resolution for this depends entirely on your mobile phone.

The aspect ratio is 9:16.

You could go live for a maximum of 60 minutes. Since there are no restrictions on the number of times you can go live, you could open another live video soon after your first one is done. 

Make sure you’re keeping track of time though. If you want to go live after your first 60 minutes, inform the viewers before you end the first video.

If you’re looking for tips on How to Make The Best Out of Live Videos, check out this blog.

Instagram Story Video Format

Instagram Story Video Format

The stories you post on Instagram do not stay forever, unlike the in-feed posts. Although these stories disappear after 24 hours from posting it, the impact they have on your audience could be significant.

If you’re looking for interaction with your audience without using the Live feature, Instagram stories are the next best option. Though it is not as spontaneous, Instagram offers features like adding stickers, opinion polls and adding text along with a multitude of other features.

While adding stickers and text take care of grabbing your audience’s attention, the opinion polls also help you understand them better.

  • The minimum resolution is 600*1067 pixels.
  • The aspect ratio is 9:16.

You can upload videos that are upto a minute long. Instagram automatically splits this into four cards, making each card 15 seconds long.

Let me give you an interesting example of Instagram stories being used right.

Instagram Story Semrush Opinion Poll

SEMrush posted a video story with the intent of finding out how many people use the voice search feature. This was a premise to their research publication on voice search. And this story carousel served as an effective medium to build curiosity and eventually drive traffic to their publication with an effective call-to-action.   

Unlike one way communication from most broadcasters, this brought in a feeling of involvement and belonging among the people.

Okay, so that’s one topic down now, we've just covered the platforms where you can upload videos organically.  

While these videos help you reach out to your existing audience, how do you reach people who’d enjoy your content but are outside of your network on Instagram?

Simple, Instagram Video Ads. 

And that’s exactly what we’re going to be talking about next. 

Instagram Video Ad Format

Instagram Video Ad Format

As far as advertisements on Instagram are concerned, they appear only in two places, In-Feed videos, and Story videos.

Customizing your video content and optimizing your video length will ensure you have successful ad campaigns.  

In- Feed Video Ads

It is not new that video marketers use Instagram ads to connect with their consumers. Keeping this fact in mind, Instagram gives you 2 entire minutes for your video ad! 

Think about it, it’s twice as much as the normal in-feed video.

As far as resolution is concerned, it shares the same specs as in-feed video.

  • Minimum Aspect Ratio - 4:5
  • Maximum Aspect Ratio - 1.91:1
  • Minimum width  - 500 pixels

To obtain the best results from your advertisement, Instagram has a few recommendations like H.264 compression and recording your audio with a minimum bitrate of 128kbps.

In Feed Carousel Video Ads

Let’s say your brand has come out with a new set of products, your primary concern would be to fit in all of the products in one video.

This is exactly why Instagram allows you to post your ads as a carousel post. You can showcase ten different videos, each with its own link, under one ad.

This will enable you to highlight specific product details with no incoherence. 

You get up to 10 cards, each having a maximum duration of 60 seconds.

Instagram recommends a resolution of 1080*1080 pixels.

Remember, you will be allowed to post your videos in a square aspect ratio only.

Instagram Story Ads

This part is where I need all your attention, things can get tricky if you go off track.

So, have you ever been in this this situation? You're swiping through your stories when you see a post from a page that you don’t follow. It gives you a call to action by asking you to swipe up or expand the story. 

These are your Instagram story ads. 

The key here is to make advertisements that are catchy and strategic, especially because these ads could easily be ignored with a simple swipe.

The minimum resolution is 600 pixels.

Story ads are only vertical, so that makes the aspect ratio range from 9:16 to 4:5

The duration of your video could go up to 2 minutes. However, stories still play with each card being 15 seconds long. You can watch the entire video by clicking on the available call to action. It is normally available at the bottom of your mobile screen.

Dunzo's Instagram Story ad
Dunzo uses Instagram Story Ads regularly to promote its offers

Nope, we’re not done yet.

If you want to post multiple ads, IG stories have the availability of carousel posts too. These carousel posts are of two types:

Native Stories Carousel 

These stories can display up to 3 cards. You could call them the standard format of stories that pop in between the user’s stories. The minimum number of cards to be used is 3. 

The resolution and aspect ratio does not change from that of the regular Instagram story ads.

The time limit does not change. Each card gets up to 15 seconds. The recommended aspect ratio is 4:5 with a minimum resolution of 600 pixels.

Expandable Stories Carousel 

This is the big daddy of all story ads. This kind can have cards that go up to the count of 10. It displays 1, 2 or 3 cards automatically, the remaining cards can be viewed after the user chooses to “keep watching” the video. 

The resolution does remain the same here as well. However, the aspect ratio has a change over here, it has the same ratio as that of your news feed. 

The duration remains the same, 15 seconds. The recommended aspect ratio is 4:5, with a minimum resolution of 600 pixels

To bring out the best results from these story ads, consider leaving 14% of free space at the top and bottom of your video placement. If not, the key elements like your profile icon and call-to-action have chances of overlapping with your video. We wouldn't want that, would we?

Additional Instagram Video Specifications

Additional Instagram Video Specifications

Instagram’s video format criteria do not end with just aspect ratio, time limit and resolution. It goes a little beyond that.

Over here, we are going to look at the other Instagram video specs that come under the format for your video. This is as crucial as the other mentioned specifications for better Instagram video quality.

We will be covering the required Instagram video file size, audio quality, file format, and frame rate.

Instagram Video File Size

For Instagram Feed Videos, the video size limit is 4 GB. The Feed Video Ads can go up to only 30 MB. It is the same for Carousel Video and Carousel Video Ads respectively. 

Since IGTV gives different time limits for the kind of account that you’re using, the file size varies. It is 650 MB for videos for less than 10 minutes and 3.6 GB  under 60 minutes.

As Instagram Live Videos are made from the phone directly, their specifications don’t fall under these requirements.  

Instagram Story Videos and ads can go up to 30 MB. 

Instagram Audio Quality

While uploading your Video onto Instagram, regardless of the kind of post, make sure your audio is recorded at a minimum bit rate of 128 kbps

You could use AAC Audio Compression for the Ad videos.

Instagram Video File Format

There is no specific Instagram video file type to upload a video as Instagram recognizes a majority of file formats. You could use any format. However,  .MP4 or .MOV is recommended. This applies to all kinds of posts, excluding IGTV and Instagram Live.

For IGTV, Instagram accepts files that are only in .MP4 format.

We know the case with Live Videos, so let’s not worry about that.

Instagram Video Frame Rate

Instagram recommends all its users to have a minimum frame rate of 30 fps, this is for all kinds of posts.

Phew! Let’s put an end to all the technicality now. We’re at the near end and by now you must have an idea of the different video formats that Instagram supports.

And We're Done!

If you’ve managed to reach this far, kudos to you!

You now know everything you need to know about video formats and specifications on Instagram's different platforms.

So, take your video content to the next level with your new learnings.

However, it goes without saying that following specifications alone will not help you achieve miracles on Instagram.

You must focus on creating quality content that your audience will enjoy first. Combine that with these best practices and you're golden.

Now go out there and kill it!

Koushik Marka

Founder @ Studiotale. He is passionate about helping brands grow with video and has expertise in video marketing & 2D animation. When he is not working, he loves playing video games and traveling.


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