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Post vs. Story vs. Reel vs. IGTV

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

Instagram is rapidly launching new features to share content. The app now boasts the chance to share video via posts, reels, IGTV and stories. So the question is, which one do you choose? How do they differ? Well, the answer is dependent on the content.

Post vs. Story vs. Reel vs. IGTV...let’s define these first.

1) A post is a standalone video that features permanently on your grid, and will appear in your follower's feed. It will also be visible to anyone visiting your page. Videos can be up to 60 seconds long.

2) A story is a short clip (10 seconds maximum each) that features in your follower’s story feed (in the little circle at the top). These only last 24 hours, although they can be archived on the top of your profile permanently in your ‘highlight’ categories. You can post as many as you want!

3) Mimicking TikTok’s features, reels are Instagram’s newest video feature. They can be up to a minute long and feature on a separate ‘reel’ tab on your profile. Reels are featured on everybody's reel page, regardless of whether they already follow you or not. Therefore, they are a popular option for increased reach on Instagram and tend to gain higher views. You can add music, on screen graphics, emojis and multiple clips to reels.

4) Lastly, IGTV is your choice for longer form content. IGTVs can last up to 15 minutes if broadcast from the phone app, or 60 minutes if broadcast from the desktop app.

...So which one should you use?

1) Posts are the classic form of Instagram content. These are great for videos under 60 seconds long, and for more professionally produced content that you'd like showcased permanently on your grid. This could include promotional videos, testimonial videos, commercials etc. Because these will predominantly show to your followers, this content is great for engaging with your existing audience.

2) Stories are great for more casual or underproduced content, as they are maximum 10 seconds long and they expire within 24 hours. Stories also provide interactivity options such as polls and Q&A features, so it’s a great way to increase engagement from existing audiences. Stories are effective for showcasing ‘urgent’ content, e.g. competitions, because their temporality encourages audiences to engage with them with a sense of urgency. You can also use stories to break down video content that has surpassed the 60 second capacity for a post, by breaking it down onto multiple Instagram posts.

3) Reels are great for attracting new audiences, as they are shown to audiences that follow you and those that don’t. High performing reels can be super engaging and successful. Ensure your reels are attention grabbing, entertaining, fast-paced and authentic, as this user generated content style works well for reels.

4) IGTV is particularly effective for educational or how-to content, due to its longer duration. Audiences are likely to engage with longer content as it is likely to be more descriptive. IGTV is also suitable for video content that doesn’t fit into the other categories. Videos that are too long for posts, and too lengthy for multiple stories, may mean that IGTV is a viable option, especially for more ‘slick’, produced content that doesn’t suit reels.

With these options in mind, it is clear that Instagram has a plethora of distribution options for videos, and the way your video is distributed should be carefully considered with your values and aims for each piece in mind.

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