As you may have heard, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, has recently announced that Instagram will start leaning into (to use his exact words) video content more in order to stay relevant and compete with or, as some may say, emulate, another particularly popular social media platform, TikTok. I will ponder these news mainly in association with business and content creator accounts. First of all, this decision has caused conflicting feelings among Instagram users, including artists and photographers who prefer imagery over video content. For many of us this announcement wasn’t shocking: it seemed like the natural progression of events, as Instagram has already integrated various video features to stay relevant. If you check out Mosseri’s Instagram video on this topic, many top comments are critical of this decision. Instagram started as a photo-sharing app, and some users prefer it to remain that way. The platform’s recent shift towards video content for the purpose of entertainment has received criticism. In the art world, it’s essential to merge aesthetics, connection, education, and entertainment to create impactful content.
It wouldn’t be a problem if Instagram tweaked video, increasing video quality, expanding formats, or introducing new video features, since some types of information can be conveyed better through video, whilst others shine through image or text. Different types of formats can all meaningfully coexist on your feed, if that is the approach that makes sense and aligns with your brand. There are definitely many advantages to incorporating video into your content strategy, regardless of the nature of your business. Video captures the viewer’s attention for longer and can establish a stronger connection to a brand. If, however, you feel it’s not compatible with your work and interests, you might like being able to choose whether you would rather focus on consuming and creating another type of content. The main worry is that you will have no choice if you’re interested in social media growth and relevance, as the algorithm will prioritise videos over imagery, and photos will lose visibility, hence significantly diminishing the reach of those relying on imagery.
Instagram will experiment with new video strategies, such as prioritising recommendations of videos on users’ feeds, including video content from accounts you may not be following yet. When it comes to bringing in and encouraging a different type of content, with a specific vibe (i.e. the signature of TikTok), there is always the risk of alienating some users. Wouldn’t it be better to compete by improving what you are already doing well, rather than altering it to emulate a different business model in order to conquer it? That is the main question posed by the critics.
“We’re no longer a photo sharing app, or a square photo-sharing up. The number one reason people say they use Instagram in research is to be entertained, so people are looking to us for that. What we are trying to do is lean into that trend, into entertainment and into video. Because there’s some really serious competition right now- Tik Tok. […] We are also experimenting with how to embrace video more broadly- full screen, immersive, entertaining, mobile-first video. We will be experimenting with that in the following months.”— Adam Mosseri
I will mention some ways and video content ideas that you can use in the art world to adapt to the changing digital landscape that pushes video. Mosseri puts on emphasis on the word “entertainment”. Instagram, art, and videos can all be seen, paradoxically, as both a form of escapism and connection to the world – that’s one thing they have in common. Let’s embrace video and look at this change as a great opportunity to boost your digital presence on social media and to reach and appeal to a wider audience. Focusing on video can be more challenging, as it’s a more complex type of content, requiring a more thoughtful approach and effort put into consistency in frequency and message, but it is definitely worth investing time in. Video is a great resource for visual and multimedia storytelling. It can add value and it can be more meaningful, especially as it stops mindless scrolling. Videos can be educational, informative, and promotional. In any case, they have to capture people’s attention. Tell a story. Make it memorable.
Some galleries have already successfully incorporated video into their Instagram strategy. I am going to share with you some ideas that can apply to galleries, museums, other art institutions and companies, studios, and individual artists.
- Firstly, you can film and edit a creative video providing a glimpse into the gallery or studio.
- Make a video emphasising the values you want to embody, promoting your mission and brand identity
- Create an exhibition preview, a walk through or virtual tour of the exhibition. You can create hybrid videos in which you mix image and video content.
- Produce a video featuring the body of work of a particular artist, accompanied by atmospheric sound and enticing voice-over
- A video of an individual artwork, from multiple angles, with close-ups on details, and storytelling. A great example that remained engraved in my mind is an in-depth analysis of “Mary Magdalene in ecstasy”, a painting by Artemisia Gentileschi. You can find this video through Google Arts & Culture. It is an intimate video, the voice of the narrator is hypnotic, the voice-over is poetic, the atmosphere of the video is mystical and mesmerising. This is a great personal tribute to Artemisia.
- You can create video content that is organised based on specific themes in art, or movements, or style, in the form of brief, artistic documentaries. You can use an art historian as a video host, someone who is passionate about and can delve into a specific topic, providing a fresh perspective and presenting it in a unique, engrossing way. Tate’s “Unlock Art” series on YouTube was quite successful, focusing on artistic themes and art history moments, including Surrealism, performance art, Women in Art, pop art, and nudity in art.
- Produce videos about gallery and museum events, activities, initiatives, and practices.
- If you’re an artist or you’re working with an artist, you can go for time-lapses, as people are often interested in the creative process from beginning to end. You can also show the studio or location in which a piece of art has been created. In some cases it is better if you post this as ephemeral content, aka Stories. As an artist, you can also post Reels showing off your inspiring progress.
Think of your Instagram feed as a work of art in itself. Post high-quality videos and images on there. You can use Instagram stories to provide a more informal and spontaneous glimpse behind the scenes of a gallery or an installation.
- You can also conduct video interviews and Q&As with artists or curators.
- Here’s an idea that can apply to any brand: Insert video into a static image, or the other way around. Attach graphic images to moving backgrounds. Videos can include teasers of an art installation, slideshows of artworks, and art gifs.
- Don’t forget to include a call to action at the end of your videos.
Some key words for video content in the art world are: emotionally evocative, engaging, informative, and aesthetically pleasing.
Check out my new Instagram account @dianamarindigital, where I post digital content ideas and effective tactics and techniques tailored for social media management in the creative sector.