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What You Need to Know About IGTV

The Basics

In late June, Instagram launched IGTV – a standalone app and experience within the Instagram app that enables the sharing and consuming of long-form vertical video.

  • Creators are the Channels
  • Looks and feels like Instagram Stories, but longer: all users (even brands!) can share videos from 15 seconds – 10 minutes long. Instagram users with 10k+ followers can share videos up to 60 minutes in length.
  • Upload videos from mobile app or desktop.
  • Videos must be in vertical, mobile-optimized format (4:5 aspect ratio)
  • In-app, videos are accessible via a new IGTV tab with four sections: “For You”, “Following”, “Popular” and “Continue Watching”. Emphasis is on easy access to creators users’ already follow and engage with.
  • IGTV insights include engagement (views, likes, comments) and audience retention (average percentage watched) with drop-off chart.
  • Creators can link to IGTV from Instagram Stories.
  • Creators can add a description and title to each video, as well as thumbnail to drive discoverability
  • Current-state, as a newly-launched feature, the IGTV icon is always visible
  • Current-state, there are no paid ad options.

First Impressions: Experimental, Test & Learn Opportunity for Brands

With the rapid and mass adoption of Instagram Stories, IGTV looks to succeed where Facebook Watch and YouTube have struggled: long-form video creation for the the masses.

Unlike YouTube, which demanded higher video quality and cadence to build an audience, IGTV democratizes the video creation process with its mobile-first design and vertical video format. For creators and influencers with established audiences, the barrier-to-entry into the long-form video space is now considerably lower.

But it’s not obsolete, which why it remains a hurdle for adoption among many creators. The jump from 60 seconds to 60 minutes requires significantly more time, planning, programming to keep users’ attention for long-form story success. It’s unknown whether users will come to expect IGTV channels to be extensions of the IG Stories they know and love, or expect more curated, highly-programmed channels similar to YouTube or Facebook Watch.

While there are no pay-to-play opportunities, brands also have instant access to IGTV, like any other user. The opportunity for brands is – unlike Instagram’s feed, IGTV is not over-saturated with content (yet) and Instagram’s algorithm still works in your favor while it continues to push adoption.

Marketers should consider IGTV a test & learn opportunity, especially if:

  • The brand has an existing, well-defined video strategy (owned or in collaboration with creators), that has access to the creative resources necessary for long-form video storytelling. Example: Huckberry
  • The brand has a robust Instagram strategy, particularly in verticals where long-form content is a proven performer on other platforms (look to YouTube, podcasts for insights): food (cooking), beauty (tutorials), gaming (reviews, e-sport coverage), fitness (routines), fashion/retail (unboxing/reviews/exclusives), travel (extreme / exclusive experiences), media/entertainment (bts, AMAs, watch parties). Example: Sezane, DanniJo
  • Consumers that are highly engaged with partnered influencers’ or creators’ (10k+ followers) Instagram Stories.
    • Benchmark users’ behavior based on Stories metrics: Forward, Back, Replies, Exited, Next Story, Link Opens to get an initial understanding of the type of content and length of video that would be most relevant. Example: Brighton Keller for Nordstrom

Additional Tips to Get Started:

  • Repurpose existing video programming or high-performing (relevant) Instagram Stories to start, editing as needed for 4:5 vertical format.
  • Think of Instagram Stories as IGTV pilots. Use insights from high-performing Instagram Stories as indicators of consumer interest and business value, first collaborating with creators to brainstorm and then rapidly test ideas for longer-form programming. Start testing incremental IGTV programming and recurring segments, incorporating multiple feedback loops by leveraging IG Stories and polls in tandem with IGTV programming to better understand consumers’ preferences.

Influencers’ Point-of-View: Unsure, but Optimistic

Every week, we interview influencers for their take on industry trends and to better understand their pain points, challenges, and new opportunities they’re seeking out as creators. Here’s what we’ve learned around IGTV so far.

IGCT vs. YouTube – What We Learned

  • YouTube is still King
  • For the most part, influencers are still unsure of whether this feature will take off, but they’re willing to test it out.
  • “Test” is the key word here – they aren’t willing to put a ton of effort into building out custom content for this feature and they are typically repurposing content they already have.
  • There may be a difference between “content creators” and “influencers” afterall. Those who are willing to spend the time to create really polished, long-form content (like on YouTube) and someone who just jumps at the newest feature… like IGTV. Controversial, but interesting theme.
  • Instagram originally thought creators would use IGTV to post long-form “Stories,” due to how much of an asset and driver of engagement Stories are for influencers and brands
  • One lifestyle blogger has a YouTube channel, but found it daunting to grow her subscribers and difficult to find the time to create enough content on the platform to be successful. She feels that because she already has a strong following on IG, this is a huge opportunity for her to more successfully delve into video content creation.
  • One fashion blogger used to star on a weekly TV series, which is a content series she’s interested in re-launching on IGTV
  • Each influencer is interested in having a channel, working with brands on sponsored content, and eventually producing dedicated content on IGTV… but thinks the feature is currently flawed and not worth too much time investment… yet.
  • One lifestyle influencer mentioned that until IGTV provides her with an opportunity to increase her exposure and visibility to new followers, she won’t jump on the bandwagon (for example, not able to search for IGTV videos in the homepage search bar or homepage explore tab of the app yet).
    • In the same vein, because you can’t search for specific content-types like “how to create a fishtail braid” or “Keke Challenge,” both lifestyle influencers believe that IGTV videos should be linear, episode-based video, featuring very general content.
  • One influencer, a YouTube OG, mentioned that she still gains ad revenue from videos she produced in 2009, and until IGTV sets up a similar revenue-generating opportunity for video creators, there won’t likely be a shift in adoption.
    • She recognized that video is the future of social media and influencer marketing and will likely continue putting more of her focus around creating this type of content for branded partnerships
  • Overall, it seems like IGTV is a feature to test for brand collaborations with influencers who have launched their channels already, but who aren’t on YouTube currently.

Influencer Testimonials:

  • On male blogger mentioned that he is still focused on building out his YouTube presence to get away from the Facebook/Instagram domination. He’s also seen some recipe bloggers put text over recipe videos, which he thinks is a smart way to leverage the long-form video and immersive experience of IGTV for food bloggers… Think Pinterest cards within the feed.
  • A lifestyle blogger, completely sees the value in unpolished, authentic video formats – Like FB and IG Live, but isn’t sure about IGTV. She’s seen some interesting ways to drive traffic to IGTV, and indicated that anyone (you and me) is now able to drive to a link in an IG story… as long as it’s a link to an IGTV channel. A very interesting platform update, in my opinion.
  • A travel and food blogger, mentioned how YouTube is her main source of TV content consumption but isn’t on that platform herself. She saw the value in leveraging her strong following on IG and is really interested in dabbling with brand collaborations in this format. But isn’t willing to put a lot of effort until she sees how it all rolls out in the coming months.
  • Lastly, below are a few screenshots of other influencers I stumbled upon who are also unsure of whether to take the plunge. They polled their users to see if their audience is interested in them starting a channel. Some said YES and some said NO, and one influencer made a YouTube channel right there and then after seeing the results. The power of polls! Get out there and vote.