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The New Video Instagram Update: A great new engagement tool or yet another daily drag? By Joanna Southwell, Bridal Brand Mentor

Instagram: “We’re no longer a photo-sharing app or a square photo-sharing app and that means change,” Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri

On Monday 5th July 2021 Instagram announced an upcoming change to the app. Video and video creation are looking to feature strongly in the future of the platform and users who use their video features will see better reach.

“Instagram is no longer a photo sharing app or square photo sharing app. The number one reason people say that they use Instagram in research is to be entertained. So people are looking to us for that. We’re trying to lean into that trend into entertainment and into video, because let’s be honest, there’s some really serious competition right now. And so people are looking to us to be entertained…and so you’ll see a number of things in this space over the coming months.” Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri

Instagram will start showing recommended, full-screen videos on users’ feeds alongside photos and videos from people they know. You may also have less control over what you see in your feed — plenty of the videos you’re served will be from accounts you don’t follow. Now video does not just means recordings of people talking directly to the camera. It can be footage of anything from funny dogs to fashion catwalk shows.

So what does this mean to wedding industry business owners?

I, and a lot of my bridal brand clients, receive a tremendous amount of business from Instagram. My wedding industry colleagues spending a great deal of time, energy and creativity on planning and curating their Instagram feeds and stories. We receive customers from the platform as well as recommendations from colleagues. We connect with our clients, receive support from industry friends and get to test the appetite for new products, services and creative work.

Having our work shared on the Instagram feeds of popular wedding and lifestyle accounts and blogs has been a key marketing tool for several years. I remember the first time a styled shoot I created was featured on the Festival Brides Instagram grid. It was a real milestone for me and increased my visibility both with potential clients and amongst industry peers. So how will this change when the app leans into video content? We have been told our visibility on follower’s feeds will be littered with “recommendation videos” making our business content less obvious. It will be hard to compete if we continue to use only picture based content.

Unfortunately I think it means we have change coming, again. Let’s get one thing straight though, wedding industry bosses are tough. We have lived through the last 18 months of chaos for our industry and are still standing. We can definitely survive a change to a social media app!

Now I actually like video content for both my wedding blog and mentoring services. I also encourage my clients to use video to strong their connection with their followers. A brand’s products and services come to life when the creators are shown. Instagram’s audience love to feel part of a brands journey and processes. They want to see the behind the scenes, the creative thinking and more about a brand’s people alongside the glossy, perfect grid images. In my field, bridal fashion, the big brands are streaming bridal collections live on IGTV, creating Reels of styling advice, going Live to talk about trends and creating series of films from the atelier showing the couturiers making dresses. Instagram video services are giving a brand’s followers and potential clients the ability to create a real connection through knowledge. Videos allow followers to know more about what the business does, how they operate and how they can offer something that the viewer both wants and needs. By lifting the lid on the brand through behind the scenes videos the viewer feels like they are part of the business and therefore much more likely to buy from them.

Instagram Videos: Reality over perfection

One of the things I actually really enjoy about Instagram’s video features is the emphasis on reality over perfection. I know a lot of my clients and colleagues feel a great deal of pressure to post grid perfection. They feel that the photos on their grid are like their shop front and the grid is a showcase of their business. And let’s be real, that’s a lot of pressure to put on a photo, and themselves. Instagram Stories, Reels and IGTV are less formal. They often show real people, real processes and the real work involved in making a business happen. It is less polished and I think all the better for it.

It has long been said that people buy from people. As a wedding industry business showing your followers the people behind your stunning flower creation, the process and time it takes to make that incredible wedding cake or the fact that the stationery you create is actually hand drawn makes all the difference. It shows your expertise and therefore your worth. Your potential clients will understand more about you and why they need you.

So why are so many wedding brands still reluctant to regularly share video content on Instagram? When I created a poll on my Instagram stories asking my industry colleagues how they felt about the Instagram changes 91% were dreading the changes. They did not want Instagram to change away from photo sharing app. The main reasons they were unhappy were because they thought creating videos were more time consuming and that they didn’t want to show their faces.

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Making Instagram video content work for you

Video creation does not need to be daunting. Remember, it is less about perfection and more about showing the workings of your business. If you are worried about showing your face on the platform, you don’t have to. Videos can be about your products. Dresses on a model or mannequin showing the detail of the fabric and cut make an interesting video that will educate and engage your audience. A close up of your hands making a bouquet or centre piece will showcase the flowers and your expertise much more effectively than a photo. A time lapse video of you setting up a styled table scape will show the time involved in creating each of your couple’s tables and your creative flair.

A step towards the full on face content is to create educational videos and tutorials for your Instagram account. Set up your phone so that your hands are showing and your voice is heard. Talk your followers through how you hand sew that wedding garter, create a paper pattern for their bespoke wedding dress or hand finish wedding invitations. Creating video tutorials are a great way to educate your audience whilst upselling to them. Have your back to camera whilst your video shows how you curate a wedding photography album, set up a ceremony moongate or style a wedding dress with accessories and shoes. This allows your followers to see more of your products and services, see your value and then buy more from you.

Now I cannot not talk about full face on Instagram videos. I know you may cringe at them but they really do work. Your followers want to know you. They want to see you, hear your voice and put a face to your offerings. It can be scary. Believe me I understand it. My first story was me opening the door to my bridal shop as I was too scared to do anything else. I was worried about my wonky teeth. I was too fat, too inexperienced and so worried about being judged. Now I know that if people are put off by my double chin and overly chatty nature they are probably not my people anyway. My ideal client wants to know me and engage with me. They want to hear what I have to say so why hold back? Instagram is actually doing me a favour and weeding out the people who are not right for me and my services. So please do try it. What have you got to loose? It will bring your customers closer to you, boost your engagement and Instagram will increase your reach.

The new video Instagram Update: A great new engagement tool or yet another daily drag?
The new video Instagram Update: A great new engagement tool or yet another daily drag?

The daily drag of creating video content

The other big problem the wedding industry people I polled had with the new leaning towards video content on Instagram was the time it takes to create it. As business owners we all have so much to do everyday and adding on video creation will certainly be a drag for a lot of people. I get it. It is a lot harder than sharing photos that a professional photographer has taken, edited and perfected for you. I don’t know about you, but it has reminded me how talented photographers are. As a forty year old women making one Reel can take me an hour and even then I don’t want to use it. They don’t sit well with me. But scheduling a fortnightly Lunch Time Live is so much easier. Chatting to myself on Stories is only five minutes, especially now that we have captions. Both are worth the time and energy for me. I get so many messages from people who watch me and it converts followers to customers at a much higher rate that the grid.

So it can be a drag but my advice would be to pick your battles. Choose which video segment to use and just use it as much or as little as you want. We all know that quality is better than quantity on Instagram so use video consistently once a week if that suits you. It will be a hell of a lot better than never doing it. After all, Instagram is only one part of your amazing business. You are your brand are multifaceted and there are a lot of ways to engage and reach your ideal clients. But if you can film yourself and put it on Instagram I think your followers will thank you!

To find out more about Joanne Southwell and the services and courses she offers – look here

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