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Instagram Reels Length: How Long Can Reels Be?

In this article, we explore everything you need to know about the ideal length of Instagram Reels and other Instagram content – according to the team themselves.

Jun 5, 2024 5 min readInstagram
Photo of Tamilore Oladipo
Tamilore Oladipo

Content Writer @ Buffer

If you’re not an experienced content creator, it might be difficult to determine the best length for Instagram Reels to get the best results. And knowing the ideal number isn’t everything – your metrics might tell you something entirely different.

In this article, we explore everything you need to know about the ideal length of Instagram Reels and other Instagram content – according to the team themselves.

How long can Instagram Reels be?

Like TikTok, Instagram allows uploads of longer videos, as IG Reels can be anywhere from 15 seconds to 15 minutes in length. However, unlike TikTok, Instagram sets very clear boundaries for how long a reel should be to perform well (this is an important caveat).

When filming a video within the Instagram app, users can choose from various specific durations —15 seconds, 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and 90 seconds. Everything from the reel templates to the ideas you’re shown all cap at the 90-second mark, and you won’t be able to film additional clips. 

But while you can’t make reels longer than 90 seconds within the app, you can upload longer videos than the available time limits in the content uploading section of your app. The video will just be cut off after the allowed time elapses.

Plan, organize, and schedule your Instagram Reels with Buffer. Here’s how →

Once you’re done editing your video, add eye-catching graphics, a call-to-action (CTA), and hashtags to increase your content’s discoverability in the Instagram feed.

Can you upload longer Instagram Reels?

Yes, you can upload any video up to 15 minutes, and it will automatically be turned into a reel. 

When you upload a video filmed or edited outside the Instagram camera, there’s no need to choose a specific video length. You’ll have access to most of the same editing tools and functionality of the reels process (no music or extra clips, so make sure to add that before you upload).

Make sure your video fits the expected Instagram Reels dimensions of 1080 x 1920 pixels so it fits neatly into the feed and gives the full-screen experience.

If you want to upload a longer reel, simply go to your camera roll and select the video or videos you’d like to upload and they’ll pop up in the editing area.

Note that these videos are not prioritized by the Instagram algorithm and will not be recommended in the reels tab, but they can be viewed on the Feed and on your profile.

How long should an Instagram Reel be?

Although you can create reels up to 15 minutes long, they shouldn’t be over 90 seconds, according to Adam Mosseri, CEO of Instagram, as they can hurt distribution, and the algorithm will not prioritize longer reels.

However, length is not the only factor you have to consider – things like high-quality visuals and effective messaging are also vital when it comes to social content and holding user attention.

Many creators work around the suggested limit for video lengths by directing their followers to "read more" in the captions.

They create very short videos that are pleasing to watch in a loop while their audience reads through the captions or engages in the comments.

How long can an Instagram Story be?

An Instagram Story can be up to 60 seconds long and will disappear after 24 hours. You can add multiple 60-second videos if you want. 

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.

They also won’t appear in your main feed, other users' For You Pages, or following feeds. Your Stories will only be visible when followers tap on your profile photo, either while viewing your profile or within the DMs or messages tab. 

Here’s a quick tutorial to film or upload content to your Story on Instagram:

  1. Tap the Create button – the + icon at the bottom center of the screen when you open the app
  2. Swipe to the Story option, which is the second option in the bottom center
  3. Record your Story or upload your content by tapping the bottom left of your screen
  4. Add your stickers, music, or text.
  5. Hit the → button to upload!

How long can Instagram carousels be?

Instagram carousels can have up to 10 photos or videos. Users on mobile can view carousel posts by swiping left, while desktop users can click through using the arrow button on the right-hand side of a post.

To create an Instagram carousel post, choose Post in the creation area and hit the overlapping squares in the middle right of the screen to select multiple images and videos.

You can add trending sounds or music to your Instagram carousel by clicking on the music symbol in the top right corner of your screen. Make sure your track of choice doesn’t run out before the user has finished swiping through the carousel.

The length of Instagram Reels vs. TikToks vs. YouTube Shorts

TikTok videos can be up to 30 minutes long, depending on your region. The maximum video length for YouTube Shorts is 60 seconds (any new videos longer than that will be published as regular YouTube videos but keeping the portrait aspect ratio). And of course, the ideal time limit for Instagram Reels is 90 seconds, but you can upload videos of up to 15-minutes in length.

Reels was Instagram’s response to the rise of TikTok’s short-form content, although TikTok seems to be leaving the short-form space behind to compete with longer-form YouTube videos.

The platforms don’t feel all that different. In fact, it’s common for creators to use Instagram Reels on TikTok and YouTube Shorts — we even recommend doing so for more visibility on your posts.

It’s important to remember that the Instagram algorithm penalizes content with a watermark from other platforms, which is something to consider when cross-posting video content.

Refine your social media strategy for short-form video

While cross-posting your content is the smart choice, especially to ease the content creation process, it’s wise to pick a primary social media platform for your videos and create your content with your target audience’s needs and preferences in mind.

If you’re stuck on which short-form video platform is best for you, you might want to create a social media marketing strategy. Everyone from influencers to social media managers finds this process helpful.

This social strategy guide will get you started and guide you through some questions to help you make the best choice for your social media goals. 

Finally, instead of focusing solely on the length of your videos, remember you have to produce quality content on Instagram, too. Your videos should perform well as long as you’re making reels that users find interesting and useful.

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