Instagram is now allowing users to upload Stories of up to 60 seconds continuously without being broken up. Previously, Stories were automatically cut into 15 seconds. The company tested the change late last year with selected users before rolling it out worldwide. Meta's spokesperson told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: "We are always working on ways to improve the Stories experience. Now, you’ll be able to play and create Stories continuously for up to 60 seconds, instead of being automatically cut into 15-second clips."
Instagram has been increasing the time limits for its video functions. In June, it extended the time limit of Reels from 60 to 90 seconds. Video posts that are shorter than 15 minutes are now also automatically shared as Reels. The focus on video comes as Instagram seeks to rival TikTok. In July, Instagram rolled back on some of its product tests, including full-screen photos and videos, following criticism from netizens and celebrities. Instagram chief Adam Mosseri previously said that Instagram is going to shift towards video over time and users are also gradually sharing more videos.
Meanwhile, Emplifi recently found that brands in Asia Pacific post more often on Instagram (68%) than on TikTok (32%) and both reach and interactions were higher on Instagram too. Clearly, Instagram is one of the popular platforms for brands to reach audiences.
Dentsu Singapore's client partner and performance marketing lead, Hemant Menon, explained that while the change in duration of Stories will have a limited impact on paid advertising, it does open up a new opportunity for advertisers to tell better stories and capture user attention as well as imagination without disruption.
"It is the right time for advertisers to rethink their creative strategies and produce content based on user consumption patterns on platforms rather than 'a TVC to all media' approach which remains a common practice in APAC," he said. According to Menon, this is a move by Instagram to reorganise its efforts towards boosting stickiness of users through content.
Meanwhile, Amir Faiz, group creative director, Mediabrands Content Studio (MBCS) is of the view that it is up to brands to figure out how they want to segment their content amidst the blurring of lines between Stories and Reels. "For instance, Reels gives us a space to produce long-form thematic content that’s fully shot vertically. For us at MBCS, we’re excited with the news and the team is already coming up with ideas on how best to use these formats creatively," he added.
Both Stories and Reels are integral to the campaigns that MBCS works on. Amir said that in the past, the industry has seen mediums change from shorter to longer formats with interesting results. "It will be very interesting to see what creators come up with," he said, adding:
Brands also don't usually want to disrupt their theme and brand of voice on Instagram, so these longer-form stories help with tactical-based postings.
At the same time, Ham Maghazeh, Lion & Lion's regional social media director, acknowledged that pushing more video-first content was Instagram's best option to compete with other platforms.
"Since dropping IGTV and expanding Stories as its long-form content solution in its pivot to becoming a video-first platform, Instagram can’t incentivise creators to hype up the platform enough to fight against video-native platforms such as Youtube and TikTok," he added.
Netizens on Twitter were divided on the issue. While some welcomed the 60-second length, others felt it was too long. The new duration of Stories can be an issue for users who prefer bite-sized content. According to Maghazeh, users engage with Stories for fast, bite-sized, and snappy moments. "Throwing long-form content into the mix will change their user experience and behaviour on the platform, restricting their ability to go back and forth on Stories as they please," he said.
Similarly, Alvina Seah, managing director of GOVT Singapore, said while there is room for more complete stories to be told, getting consumers' attention throughout will always be a key challenge to solve.
"At the end of the day, the consumer has a say on whether she wants to continue watching the long video after a few seconds or rewatch your short video a few times over," she said.
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