When I talked about content in my previous posts, I never mentioned IGTV. Since it's still relatively new and because I couldn't find any good articles about it anywhere else, I decided to write an article dedicated to it. I'll talk about what IGTV is all about and give you some tips on how to use it, but first let's take a look at how it came to be.
The Evolution of Instagram
As you all know, when Instagram first came out it was solely meant for posting pictures and nothing else. For a while, Instagram didn’t receive the recognition it deserved, but as time went by more and more people starting using it. The tipping point, in my opinion, was when Facebook purchased it in 2012. Facebook's knowledge of social media and user preferences proved vital in making Instagram the next big thing. The well-known brand name and news headlines about the purchase certainly increased the buzz around Instagram. Shortly after the acquisition, Instagram launched short video sharing. To not bore you with the details, soon after, they launched Instagram Ads, Direct Messages(DMs), Tagged Photos(Photos of You) and all the other features we know today.
The latest addition, IGTV, is the reason for this article and it is what we'll be focusing on. It can be found in your Instagram application OR downloaded as a standalone app from your respective app store.
IGTV was launched in light of the increasing popularity of video-streaming platforms - most notably, Youtube. Video traffic is becoming popular since it's much easier to consume and today’s society is all about consumption. Do you notice how audiobooks are gaining more popularity? It's the same with videos. Why read something when you can play a video and watch it, or better yet, put it in another tab and just listen to it. It allows people to multi-task while doing other things and it makes learning new things much easier. Whether it's online lectures, sports, your favourite game streamer, Youtube has it all. Consequently, Instagram realized that the pie is so big, there's no reason they shouldn't get a slice and, thus, IGTV was born.
What is IGTV?
So, as I've said, it's a video streaming platform with longer video formats in mind (up to an hour for some users currently, depends on account size) which is meant to help Instagram gain dominance on yet another segment of our online lives. However, that doesn't mean it's been successful along the way. With Instagram Stories enjoying great success, they thought IGTV would a logical step in the same direction. However, there are bumps on the road for Instagram. The biggest challenge of a video streaming platform would be having enough high-quality content to entertain your users and that doesn't come overnight.
Vertical Videos Only
The thing that differentiates IGTV from other video streaming platforms is the vertical video format. It's entirely adapted and meant to be used on mobile devices, which has it's good and bad sides. On the good side, it's disruptive, never done before and it's practical for end-users. It doesn't break the flow when you're browsing Instagram and you stay totally immersed. The format is used when recording with your phone, so even an amateur can post high-quality videos, without the need for all the fancy equipment and editing. The idea is that anyone can make a quality channel and with more and more "Youtube celebrities" and "influencers" popping up every day, IGTV looks to house at least some of them.
However, that's where the bad points for IGTV begin as well. It's a total nightmare for professionals and editors since they now have to either shoot in two formats, make sure the aspect ratio is just right for editing or make it so the video can be cropped to the desired format. In reality, no one shoots in vertical format and you can be sure that if and until IGTV becomes a necessity in everyone's marketing strategy, people will try to avoid it.
For the time being, IGTV doesn't display ads to users. Like the previous point, this has it's pros and cons, depending on which side of the content you're on. If you're a content creator and choosing between Youtube and IGTV, where would you rather post your videos? The platform that pays you for what you do or the platform that provides no additional value to you except exposure (which Youtube does as well)? The answer is simple, you'll choose Youtube and, possibly, IGTV as a secondary platform to re-post your video. However, here the problem with format comes in and you realize you need two different formats and dump IGTV altogether.
A smart way to go around this is to post highlights or trailers for your Youtube videos or Twitch streams or anything else really, on IGTV. That way, your editing doesn't have to take as long and you still gain the bonus exposure. That said, Instagram said that monetization is coming, but not until they're satisfied with how IGTV looks and how it's perceived. In other words, until it becomes popular enough, IGTV probably won't display ads, so as not to deter people right in the beginning.
To be successful in marketing, you need to know your target audience. If you plan on using IGTV as a platform for your content or simply as a supplement to your other channels, it's important to know who frequents IGTV. Instagram's general audience tends to be young, older people are usually on Facebook. IGTV is targeted at people up to the age of thirty. That age group tends to enjoy more raw, non-edited content and it's the reason Youtube talk shows and podcasts have gained such popularity. Keep that in mind before starting anything on IGTV, but feel free to test and see for yourself.
To sum up, it's definitely too early to tell whether or not IGTV is going to be a success, but it's never too early to get informed about it. Hopefully, you now have a better picture of how IGTV came to be and how you can use it to grow your own fan base/following. In its current state, I'd use it in addition to other platforms, since the traffic is free and it's never a bad idea to start early. Who knows, if IGTV becomes a massive success, you'll be glad you did!