How long can Instagram Stories be? + 5 tips for captivating Stories


Nearly 1 billion users are active on Instagram Stories. This audience represents a diverse demographic, making Stories a powerful tool for individuals, influencers, and businesses to connect with a wide range of people. 

With potential like that, Stories are not a format you want to sleep on.

For new Story creators wondering what types of content to share, or how long your Stories can be, we have all the answers.

Discover how long Instagram Stories can be, how they differ from other video types on Instagram, and five tips for creating engaging Stories.

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How long can Instagram Stories be?

Instagram Stories have a maximum time limit of 60 seconds for a single video. Stories disappear from your feed after 24 hours, unless you save them to a Highlight on your Instagram profile.

Below, you can see that The Sill has active Stories because of the bright ring around its profile pic.

Screenshot of Instagram profile for The Sill with Stories 

As you can see under the bio and profile buttons, The Sill has also created a number of Story Highlights, each with a branded cover photo and categorized Stories so that audiences can refer to them later.

How are Instagram Stories different from other video types on the app?

The Instagram app has evolved significantly since its inception, initially focusing on photo sharing, but gradually incorporating various video formats to increase engagement and content diversity. Let’s dive deeper into each one, starting of course with Stories.

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is the woman of the hour. As noted, a Story is a disappearing photo or video that can be up to 60 seconds long. You can add multiple 60-second videos if you so choose.

Previously, longer videos were broken down into 15-second clips as they were uploaded to Stories, but now the maximum length is 60 seconds and it remains as a single video. Videos that are longer than 60 seconds are just cut off at one minute.

Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels are your typical feed video. As of July 2022, all videos uploaded to Instagram that are under 15 minutes long will appear as a Reel. Because Reels are full-screen vertical videos, they provide a more immersive video-watching experience, which led to the app’s decision.

This came shortly after Instagram shut down its long-form IGTV video content due to lack of popularity. Now, the maximum Instagram video length for Reels is 15 minutes, and unless you upload your video as part of a carousel post, it will appear as a Reel video.

Instagram Live videos

An Instagram Live video is a broadcast where you stream content in real-time to your audience. It’s a great way to host a FAQ, live shopping event, interactive news broadcast, or just interact with your viewers and their comments as you’re live.

Instagram Live videos have a video length limit of four hours, if you choose to broadcast for that long. You can then save and download your full video and upload it in segments later.

Instagram video ads

Finally, you have Instagram video ads. Instagram has a huge, diverse user base, making it a valuable platform for targeted advertising. Its visual-centric format is particularly effective for creators and companies with aesthetic design and branding. 

The 15-second limit on Instagram ads is significant, as it aligns with the quick scrolling behavior of the average Instagram user and is intended to capture attention quickly. It forces advertisers to focus on their messaging and be concise.

How to edit an Instagram Story’s video length

If your video is too long to upload as a 60-second Story, you can adjust the length before you post it. Here are a few ways:

Re-record your Story in Instagram

When you record a Story using Instagram's camera, but it cuts off before you finish, you may need to rerecord it or record a second Story.

Using Instagram's camera and editing tools is great for shorter videos, but if you're not sure how long your video will be, you might want to use your iPhone or Android's camera app and editing tools.

Trim in your camera roll

If you use your smartphone to record your Story videos, you can use your camera app’s video editor to trim or shorten longer videos to the 60-second limit. Once you're done, you can upload your Story to Instagram and make any edits you want.

Use a third-party video editing tool

Although Instagram offers basic editing tools for Stories, like filters, text overlays, and simple effects, they're limited in terms of functionality and creativity. They're meant for quick, on-the-go edits.

You can access more features and have more control over the editing process with a third-party video editor like Descript. Some advanced features include precise cutting for seamless storytelling, advanced transitions for a more professional narrative flow, and specialized effects like color correction and sound editing. 

Long vs. short videos

So you know how to shorten your videos now. But the question is, should you concentrate on short or long videos in the first place? Even though 60 seconds isn't a "long-form video," it's still a lot to ask viewers to watch when they're scrolling through Stories.

The key is to figure out what holds users' attention and keeps them watching. Let's discuss long vs. short videos as it pertains to Instagram Stories.

Long videos

Long videos are great for explaining things or sharing a tutorial—for example, if you want to share some newly launched products or walk viewers through different ways to use them.

The best way to share long videos is by recording right in the app in 60-second snippets. This way, your Story feels much more organic. You can use the tools Instagram gives you to make the Story more entertaining, and you’ll be more likely to keep viewers around.

Here’s an example of House + Plant using longer Stories to share information about a product launch:

Image of House + Plant Instagram Stories series

She speaks to her audience across multiple Stories, sharing new products, showcasing how she uses them, and including direct links to make a purchase for those who discover the product could be useful to them.

Short videos

Short videos are best for announcements (like a flash sale or an event reminder), humorous content, and brief updates that don't require much explanation. The quick format, usually between 15 and 30 seconds, is perfect for delivering messages that are straightforward and easy to digest.

Even though the videos are short, they still require thoughtful storytelling. The challenge is to capture the essence of the message in a way that's engaging.

Solo Stove is a good example of nailing short-form videos. The brand produced a quick 10-second promotional video about a new product collection through Stories.

Still image of Solo Stove’s Stories ad

Solo Stove created three videos, all with the same template, but showing off three different colored products from the brand’s new Metallic collection. Each video has a “Limited Release” tag to create urgency and a link to immediately make a purchase, which simplifies the buying process.

How to make an Instagram Story video

Here are four simple steps to create your first Instagram Story, regardless of what platform you're using—Instagram, TikTok, or Snapchat.

Step 1: Record your video

Instagram Stories allow various types of content, including videos, photos, and graphics. You can choose one or a combination depending on your message and audience.

If you opt for a video, plan your content. Decide whether you’ll post about an event, share a quick tutorial, or even recite a personal message. Remember, Instagram Stories are limited to 60 seconds per segment, so keep it concise.

If you’re recording a video in Descript, open the Record panel, select Camera, adjust your settings, and then hit the Record button.

An image showing how to record a video in Descript 

Step 2: Upload to Instagram

If you're using Instagram to record your Story, skip this step. However, if you used Descript, send the edited video file to your phone. 

To upload the video to Instagram, just open the app, then tap the + sign icon or swipe to the right. Select "Story" from the different types of content at the bottom. Select your Story content from your camera roll by scrolling up the screen.

Step 3: Add stickers, captions, music, etc.

Instagram offers a number of stickers and other features to help make your Stories even more engaging and interactive. Take advantage of the stickers that make sense for the type of Story you’re posting.

To access stickers, tap the icon with a smiley face on a sticky note. You’ll find all of these options:

The different types of stickers include:

  • Poll
  • Quiz
  • Link
  • Geotag
  • Countdown
  • Question box

Or, you can search for different visual stickers and GIFs that you can add to your Story design and make it stand out more.

Step 4: Publish your Story

Once you’re finished sprucing up your story, tap the Stories button at the bottom. You can also post the Story to Facebook if you've connected your Instagram and Facebook accounts.

You can also share with Close Friends if you've set this up. It's a good idea for businesses to do this for people who sign up for premium subscriptions, for a group of people (like affiliates) who need special updates, or for people you want to reward with deals and sales who are highly engaged.

5 tips for creating engaging Instagram Stories

If someone follows you, your Stories will appear in a small feed at the top of the Instagram home tab. Users can swipe side to side to see more Stories.

Image of Instagram’s Stories feed

When your followers view your Stories, they're more likely to appear at the top of their Stories feed, so you'll get more views. That's why it's important to make your Stories engaging, interesting, and entertaining, or people won't want to check out more from you.

Use these five tips to create Stories your audience wants to view and interact with.

Use stickers

Like we mentioned, there are a number of sticker options to choose from. You can use multiple stickers in a single Story or choose a different one for each Story.

But you want to make sure they make sense, too. Try using the location sticker to tag one of your store locations or adding a question box to a video you’ve shared of your new product so viewers can ask questions or make color requests for future launches.

Here’s an example from boutique Anthropologie:

Instagram Story example featuring Stickers from Anthropologie

The brand’s entire Story is centered on a stylized photo shoot, and this particular video of a coffee being poured has included a small poll to go alongside it, asking if viewers prefer coffee or tea in the mornings.

The Story is a fun example of behind-the-scenes content while also adding stickers to make it interactive for the audience.

Add background music

Instagram Stories also allows you to add background music to still images, slideshows of images, or silent videos to make them more engaging.

Tap the music note icon in the top navigation after you've recorded or uploaded your Story content. You'll be taken to this screen where you can choose or search for your favorite song:

Image of music options for Instagram Stories

After that, you can choose whether to just have the music play in the background, display the lyrics, or add a sticker of the song's album cover.

💡PRO TIP: If you’re editing in Descript, you can also add music to the background of your videos. Just add a song from your iTunes library or choose from Descript’s library of royalty-free music.

Image of user browsing royalty-free music in Descript dashboard

Include captions/subtitles

If you’re recording or uploading a video, incorporating captions or subtitles is always a good idea to ensure your content is accessible, even to those who are watching without sound or are hard of hearing.

Anytime you record or upload a video post to your Story, you’ll see a “Captions” option appear in your stickers dashboard, like this:

Image of caption and subtitles options in Instagram Story editor

Click on it to auto-generate your captions. Choose the way you want them to appear and make any necessary edits so they’re completely accurate.

💡PRO TIP: Use Descript’s Instagram video editor to add captions to your video during your editing phase, so you don’t even need to worry about it after uploading the video to your Story.

Share posts to your Stories

You can also share posts, Reels, and other Stories to your Story as a way to further interact with content. Any post or Reel can be shared by tapping the paper airplane “Share” icon and choosing “Share to Story.” 

You can only share other Stories if your brand has been tagged in them—but it’s a great way to share user-generated content if you keep an eye on your messages. Your DMs is where you’ll be notified about being mentioned in Stories.

Here’s an example of a brand that has shared a number of posts to their Stories—two from customers and one from one of the brand’s retail locations.

Collage of The Sill sharing various stories of its products on Instagram Stories

Get creative with your content 

Finally, just get creative with the content you share on your Stories. As we mentioned, you can share videos, photos, or graphics. You can even use the drawing tool in Stories to create your own art.

Here are some creative examples we’ve seen from brands. First, Semrush shared an infographic its team made:

Screenshot of Semrush’s Story on Instagram

We have another example from Anthropologie’s behind-the-scenes photo shoot, sharing the location its team was shooting at and other stunning imagery.

Image of an Instagram Story from Anthropologie

The possibilities really are endless. But as long as you tap into your creativity, share a variety of different photo and video formats with your Stories, and take advantage of built-in features, you should build a wide viewership for your content.

Edit your social media videos with Descript

If you want to create better IG Stories, Descript’s Instagram video editor is your one-stop shop for editing videos, adding captions, and making sure your content captivates your audience. 

With Descript, you can:

Thousands of creators already use Descript’s AI video editor to edit their Instagram Reels. Take a free tour today and you’ll see why.

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