As video content becomes an increasingly critical part of a digital strategy, marketing professionals must excel at making content that is easily digestible and visually eye-catching. This doesn’t mean the video content needs to be shot in high-definition with a large crew, but rather, tell a story that relates to the viewer.
That’s the beauty of Instagram’s IGTV. The platform can host videos up to an hour long for large or official accounts and 10 minutes for smaller ones.
IGTV is a relatively new development and has already been integrated into the social media strategy of numerous brands and influencers. Most believe the best way to use IGTV is to create content native to the platform and drive traffic to their videos through stories.
“Brands should look to use IGTV as a way to showcase the personality of their brands,” says Amy Lecza, content marketing manager for G2 Crowd. “There are many ways this can be done successfully: interviewing an influential member of your team or someone who’s great on camera about a new initiative or project, showcasing a new product launch, or demonstrating brand/company culture through offsite events or conferences.”
Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO of Socialbakers, says video has been the top performing content on social media for some time now and with Instagram quickly becoming the most impactful platform for brands, it’s no surprise that they are exploring ways to offer marketers more engaging content types.
“Instagram has long been the platform of choice for both micro and macro influencers. With the rapid growth in importance of influencer marketing, IGTV will be providing a platform for even the smallest influencer to reach and engage their audience with the content they like to watch,” he says. “By offering them the chance to share original user-generated content via the IGTV app, Instagram is making itself even more sticky. With 1 billion users on Instagram, IGTV will be an appealing place for influencers and brands looking to grow and engage their audience.”
Maya Florendo, community manager for Sparkloft Media, notes IGTV is Instagram’s way of disrupting the traditional TV experience and updating it for a modern, mobile experience.
“Younger audiences are spending more time with amateur content creators and less time with professionals,” she says. “They’re spending less and less time watching traditional TV, turning their attention to online videos and content. Marketers have certainly noticed the influence social apps bring to today’s digital marketing, and with a proper social analytics program, can fine-tune their messages as this medium grows in popularity, whether developing series-like content or one-off wonders.”
In other words, IGTV is a potential way to boost conversion numbers. Unlike normal feed videos, IGTV videos have to be intentionally clicked on, which means users are purposefully seeking out and watching your content. At this point, it’s easier to convert potential customers than during your first point of contact on their normal feed.
Setting up an IGTV account is straightforward, however, there are a few key points to remember when creating content for IGTV. First, unlike YouTube and Facebook, the app uses the vertical video format, which means it’s ideally suited for mobile. Therefore, you need to forget everything you know about shooting widescreen video when producing content for IGTV.
“Next, you need to make sure you’re creating content that attracts and connects with your audience, customers, and prospects,” Ben-Itzhak says. “By understanding your brand identity and the personas that make up your audience, you will be able to create content that drives the best ROI from your IGTV investment.”
Try to shoot in the native aspect ratio. Instagram’s goal is for is to not have users flip their phones to watch videos, so don’t re-purpose old horizontal videos on IGTV.
Zellie Friedman, social media manager at Power Digital Marketing, says to keep in mind that videos should be optimized at 1080x1920px, which in the past was an uncommon video size, but thanks to tools like Filmora and Lumen5, it’s easy to create vibrant, story-centric videos in minutes.
Lecza says for marketers and companies, it’s important to note that advertising is not currently available on the platform, so they’ll have to get creative with promoting their products or services because there’s no paid component; only good content will help them garner views.
However, Florendo shares that Instagram does plan to start introducing ads by the beginning of 2019.
“This opens the door to even more possibility for influencers to continue sharing their content through partnerships with brands,” Florendo says. “Developing a strong IGTV audience in the program’s infancy will help build a more proficient marketing program.”
IGTV doesn’t show up in the Instagram algorithm so it isn’t intuitive to use. That’s why it’s vital to create incentive for people to visit the content. There are a lot of influencers experiencing low engagement numbers for this reason.
IGTV in Action
Phil Svitek, COO of AfterBuzz TV, says one way to take advantage of IGTV is to push it through to Instagram stories.
“Even if you don’t have 10,000 followers, you can add a swipe-up feature that takes users to your IGTV channel,” he says. “Treat it as a part of Instagram instead of a whole. Your entire Instagram (photos, stories and IGTV) should be cohesive. They should convey the same themes just in different ways.”
As with any new content type, there are brands that are early adopters, trying and testing the format to see how they can make it work for their audience. Ben-Itzhak says for media publishers, it’s been a natural shift as they already have compelling video content and because it has been created for stories, it is already natively vertical.
“Some brands, on the other hand, have started with one-offs, while others are using IGTV to do longer interviews with influencers,” he says. “Designer brands Gucci and Louis Vuitton have used IGTV to share videos from their recent fashion shows. While IGTV allows marketers to produce video content of up to an hour in length, many are not yet taking advantage of this feature and are opting to experiment with shorter videos. Brands testing IGTV need to start getting their heads around creating long-form vertical content.”
Marketers can take advantage of the long-form platform to promote informational/instructional or entertainment videos, for example: instructional baking videos from the Food Network, or National Geographic’s 47-minute documentary, One Strange Rock. They are using the format to drive greater awareness and expose more people to their longer-form video content.
“Netflix used IGTV’s launch to share a 59-minute 59-second video of Cole Sprouse, from their hit TV show Riverdale, eating a burger, building on the one-minute long clip of Cole eating a burger, which they originally launched to promote Riverdale on their platform,” Ben-Itzhak says. “There are also many examples of brands using IGTV for longer interviews or to collaborate with influencers. With 60 minutes of video available to marketers, the only limit is imagination.”