One ongoing question we’ve batted around is if Instagram Stories, Reels and other developing formats are primed for SMB marketing. The thought is that they’re low-friction ways to scratch a longstanding SMB itch: video marketing. Sometimes vanity-driven, SMBs value showing themselves in living color.
Formats like Instagram and Snapchat Stories also check another box: reaching millennials and Gen-Z. These camera-native generations live on such platforms. TikTok has emerged to amplify this, followed soon by the similarly-oriented Instagram Reels. Both are developing as SMB marketing channels.
But one challenge is video length constraints. The UX is built for rifling through and discovering snackable videos, which puts a burden on SMB video production: They have to squeeze a lot into a small container. As Mark Twain once wrote “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one.”
Sometimes More is More
These video restraints were partly alleviated this week with Instagram Reels’ latest update: longer videos. It announced that it’s rolling out the option to create videos up to 60 minutes in length. This compares with the 30-second limit previously imposed, and follows competitors’ recent moves (more on that in a bit).
Exact drivers for longer videos weren’t specified by Facebook, but it’s likely that usage data and demand signals drove this move. Another theory is that the option for longer videos will open up additional use cases and creative applications. The latter could boost appeal for advertisers that want more time.
And that’s where SMBs come into the picture. A longer format essentially provides them more optionality to embrace Reels. Indeed, lessening restrictions could lower adoption barriers for SMBs otherwise intimidated by the platform. And it’s always harder to make things shorter as Mark Twain reminds us.
A longer format also accommodates best practices. Because Instagram Reels is similar to TikTok, it carries a similar playbook for marketers. As TikTok told us at Localogy Place, it’s all about having “raw” and “honest” content (think: behind-the-scenes footage). That’s a lot easier to do in 60 seconds versus 30.
This concept applies when looking at several SMB marketing formats that are becoming popular on TikTok and Reels. We’re talking beauty tutorials, how-to videos, and cooking demos. All of these can benefit from more time to demonstrate a given SMBs’ products or personality. And it requires less editing time.
All Artists Copy
In addition to the drivers theorized above, the new 60-second limit follows similar moves by Snapchat Spotlight and YouTube Shorts. Like Instagram Reels, these are both TikTok-like products that let creators make short videos and give users a discovery engine to find them. They both have a 60-second max.
Longer Reels also follow TikTok’s recent move to extend its video capacity to a full 3-minutes. We predicted at the time that other competitors — congruent with the rampant feature copying in this sector — would soon follow suit. Instagram Reels ended up doing that, but it’s sticking at 60 seconds, at least for now.
Meanwhile, Instagram Reels users can access the latest feature by choosing video length before recording a new production, including 15, 30 and 60 second options. The company says that it will roll out the new feature in stages, with all users having access “soon.” We’ll keep an eye on SMB uptake and implications.