It feels like ever since Facebook Zero was announced, marketers and brands haven’t been able to talk about anything but the major social media site that caused “friending” to become a verb. After several months of fixating on Facebook, though, Instagram has finally stolen the spotlight away from their partner platform with their new IGTV.
Instagram’s new IGTV is a huge development in the marketing world, bring more long-form content to the platform in a way that’s sure to shake things up.
In this post, we’ll take a look at everything we know about IGTV, including what it means for the platform, what it means for marketers, examples of businesses already knocking it out of the park, and a few ideas for where to get started.
What is Instagram’s IGTV?
Instagram’s IGTV works both as a stand-alone app and as a new feature that integrates within Instagram’s original app. It will allow users to create and share videos up to an hour long, which significantly extends maximum length of actual on-platform videos (which is still capped at 60 seconds).
Here’s how it works. People can upload the longer videos to IGTV directly. Users can view it there. When users view your Instagram profile, they’ll also see an icon indicating that you have content on IGTV. They can click it to be taken to the app, where they’ll be able to view the video content.
IGTV videos are designed specifically for mobile viewing, meaning that they’re all vertical and full-screen experiences like Instagram Stories. Users can leave comments on videos and like them, and this social proof will be visible to other users.
When users enter the IGTV app, video will automatically start playing with navigation options at the bottom of the app. You can choose to watch videos in the following categories:
- For you (based on interests)
- Continue watching
The videos users automatically see will be a compilation of content from the pages they’re following, content that’s popular, content that the algorithm deems relevant to their interests, and content that you were watching previously. They’ll play one after another, almost exactly like how shows play one after another in television.
What About YouTube?
The first thing I thought about when I heard about IGTV was “but what about YouTube?” Based on comments I saw online, I know I wasn’t the only one.
YouTube, after all, is the current king of long-form content; it’s even still beating out Facebook, because users go to the site just to watch content instead of happening to stumble upon it like they do on the latter. IGTV is YouTube’s first real competition when it comes to long-form content, and while YouTube is still dominating, I don’t think that will necessarily be the case forever.
IGTV is mobile-first, which is important since so many users are watching more video on mobile than ever before. It’s a mobile app with automatic full-screen views and is superior in that sense to YouTube’s.
The automatic playing and personal recommendations features are also great, and I could see how these new IGTV features could keep people watching and staying interested in multiple videos before they have a chance to click away like they do on YouTube. This could help to keep users engaged and on-platform for longer periods of time, which would be beneficial if (and likely when) they eventually monetize the app by showing ads between videos.
My best guess is that IGTV won’t ever replace YouTube. YouTube is great on desktop (and mobile, to be fair), and their search engine is fantastic. It’s a little like how Google AdWords and Facebook Ads are both important PPC platforms, but they’ll never replace each other because they work in two very different ways.
How to Create an IGTV Channel
Ready to get started with marketing on IGTV? The first thing you need to do is create a channel.
When you first download the app and login, you can log in with your Instagram username. This syncs your accounts to an extent, showing you content based on your Instagram activity, including the profiles you follow there.
If you want to actually share content, however, you need to create your own channel.
Doing this is ridiculously easy and just involves clicking through a few screens.
First, pull up your “browse” screen. Find your Instagram profile picture, which will be very small and located next to the white navigation wheel. Click on it.
You’ll then see a prompt to “Create Channel.” Click it. You’ll be taken through three different screens that inform you that IGTV is full-screen, vertical video and that you can share videos of up to an hour long on your channel.
Once your channel is created, you’ll immediately see that information from your Instagram profile is carried over, including the bio description, profile picture, username, and number of followers.
You’ll be able to view your library of views that you’ve uploaded to your channel here at any time.
How to Share Videos on IGTV
You’ve created your channel, and now you’re ready to start uploading content. To do this, navigate to your channel. Then click on the white plus sign.
If your channel is new, you’ll be asked to allow access to your videos.
You’ll only be able to choose videos in your library that are vertical. (Yes, I only have videos of my dogs, don’t judge me.) Videos must be a minimum of fifteen seconds and a maximum (if you’re not qualified for long-form videos) of ten minutes long.
Choose your video. You’ll be shown the video in its full duration as other users will see it, so you can make sure it’s edited the way you want.
Once you do this, you’ll be able to edit the cover photo that will represent the video (which users will see when they go to view your channel or see it when browsing).
You’ll add a title and description for the video. Make sure that these entice users to want to watch more. You can also choose whether or not you want to make the video visible on Facebook or not.
Once your video is ready, hit “Post” and it will be available for viewing. It will appear quickly under your channel for viewing.
5 IGTV Best Practices to Keep in Mind
When you create and upload your content, there are a few best practices you’ll want to keep in mind in order to get the best results on the platform. These include:
- Use on-screen text to provide context to the video. This should be added in pre-uploading.
- Add subtitles to your video. This should also happen before uploading. Subtitles are important because 1) they help the hearing impaired and 2) 85% of users watch video without any sound on Facebook.
- Always keep it vertical. Don’t try to cheat the system and hope that users will turn their phones to the side, because the entire focus of the app is vertical content. It feels unnatural and clunky to be required to turn your phone, and users might not respond well.
- Choose your cover image for every video. Even if you’re just choosing one from the video itself, a manual selection will almost always be better than whatever was generated automatically. You can also create cover images with tools like Snappa to add text and graphics, and then upload them through your camera roll for an extra impressive first impression.
- Use as much time as you need and never a second more. You can upload much longer videos here. That’s great, but it doesn’t mean you should be milking ten minutes for all they’re worth. Instead, use the luxury of time to share all the information you need and to take the time you need, but not a second more. This will keep users engaged and not feeling like they’re watching fluff.
4 Ideas for IGTV Video Content
Not sure where to get started in terms of content for IGTV?
In general, most of the content that you’re using on other social media platforms will do well here. That includes both YouTube and Facebook, which both can have very different types of content. Casual and highly edited content right now are both welcome, though it will be interesting over time to see if users develop a preference for one over the other.
Ultimately content should be either entertaining or valuable in some way, if not both.
Want some specific ideas? Use the following concepts for some great inspiration:
- Tutorials. This can include how-to content that’s relevant to your business or that features your producing, like how to set up, care for, or use your products or services. The longer videos allow you to take more time and be more thorough in your tutorials, making them even more valuable. And the more valuable, the better.
- Behind the scenes content. Everyone loves some good behind the scenes content; it’s a great way to showcase the personality of your brand and develop trust with your viewers. Long-form videos gives you a little more space to do that well, so take advantage of it.
- Product videos. I have a feeling that overtly promotional videos where you just show a product and don’t say anything won’t do well on this platform, but if you make it interesting and have a charismatic team member showing off a new product or discussing often-looked-over features, you can get good results.
- General insider knowledge in your industry. This knowledge is always appreciated by audience members. I once saw a YouTube video of a jeweler opening a watch and showing how it worked, explaining the mechanics. I’ll never make a watch, I’ll never repair one, but it was fascinating to see. I later trusted that jeweler to repair my watch when it broke.
3 Examples of Creators Already Embracing IGTV
IGTV is brand new, so while we can assess some best practices and good material to use early on, it’s hard to find examples of businesses and influencers who are using the tool well. We’re all just starting to feel it out and get used to it, especially since it’s not widely used by users yet (which it will be in time, I have no doubt).
Fortunately for all of us, there are a few creators out there who are already embracing IGTV. Follow these users to see what they’re doing well, how you can adapt it for your business, and get some inspiration.
Dan Knowlton (danknowlton1)
Dan Knowlton is an exceptional marketer, and I’ve always noticed that he’s one of the first to test out new features on platforms, so it’s no surprise that he’s ahead of the pack on IGTV.
Let’s take a look at one of his videos.
Even in a still image, you can tell that he’s doing several things well here, including:
- Using an attention-grabbing headline that makes you need to watch.
- Adding subtitles that are easy to read.
- Sharing content that’s informational and directly valuable to his target audience.
Williams Sonoma is a big name brand that has typically done a great job on Instagram marketing. One of my favorite parts of their regular Instagram content is their tutorials, and they’ve taken that skill to IGTV now, too.
This one video makes excellent use of the full screen while also taking the bottom browsing menu into consideration in a way that doesn’t look like they’ve ignored the last 1/4 of it.
They’ve also got their name brand present on the actual video, which is helpful when users are watching without the browsing/title overlay on and ensures that viewers will know who shared the content.
And the tutorials, of course, are executed well. People love how-to content, especially when it’s thorough and actionable like the tutorial above.
Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerrys is a business that I’m always happy to follow, because who doesn’t love ice cream. They also manage to toe the line of being just a little political in a way that causes some users to rally around them instead of advocating against them.
In the video example above, this business uses relevant, timely current events to entice users to watch and build better relationships with viewers all at once. They also use on-screen text to establish context quickly, and (though you can’t see it here) they do have subtitles.
They’ve done all this well, so I’m including it here on this list because there’s a lot to learn from, but we can also learn from what they didn’t do so well: they tried to make a horizontal video fit onto that vertical screen. Technically it did fit, but it required me to turn my phone, which to be honest felt jarring (even when it doesn’t on YouTube or Facebook), largely I think due to the title not turning with it. Don’t make this mistake, and adapt to the format, even if you need to reshoot some videos.
Instagram’s IGTV is almost guaranteed to be a game-changer, especially considering how they turned a Snapchat feature into one that’s now associated more often with Instagram, instead. The ability to create and share long-form content on an exceptionally popular platform where users are excited to engage with brands has so much potential, and we’re excited to see where the platform goes in time.
What do you think? How do you feel about IGTV? How do you think this is going to shake things up? Has your business started using it yet? Share your thoughts, knowledge, and questions in the comments below!