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IGTV: A Deep Dive Into Instagram’s New-ish Long-Form Video Feature

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has proved itself as a constantly evolving platform which regularly introduces new features and novelties to be used by its over 1 billion active monthly users. Keeping up with the trends is what Instagram does best, and the introduction of IGTV - its long-form video feature, only confirms this.

By Ana Simova, content writer at Ranking Press

    Instagram started out as a photo-sharing platform. where, in the beginning, you could only post square-shaped photos and add filters, and that simplicity along with its focus on aesthetics is what essentially drew users to the platform.

    After two years went by, the platform was acquired by Facebook and began to introduce novelties such as: sponsored posts, photo tagging, video sharing, Instagram Stories, Stories sharing, the “Direct” feature, sharing photos and videos at any aspect ratio, and live video broadcasting.

    Now we have the latest feature, IGTV, which launched in June 2018. IGTV was designed to work as a social-media based television, something that could give YouTube a run for its money. But did it succeed? Is it popular? How does it work?

    We’ll see.

    Let’s dig deeper and tell you everything you need to know about this new-ish long-form video feature.

    What is IGTV and How Does it Work

    We watch traditional TV less and less – especially the younger generations. After the boom social media made with the introduction of MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many more platforms, some of them, like YouTube, became the go-to place for watching long-form video content. Other platforms wanted to catch up and began introducing new features which allowed users a better video watching experience.

    Instagram, being one of the trendsetters in the social media world, did just that – by introducing IGTV, it offered its users a more unique video watching experience.

    IGTV, or Instagram TV, is both a feature within the Instagram app and a standalone app for watching long-form video content.

    Why TV, you might wonder? Well, when you turn on your television, you don’t browse for content that you wish to see but are instantly given a channel which you can watch or change with a click of a button.

    IGTV kinda works the same.

    Once you open the feature or the app, a video instantly starts playing. Also, just like with television, there are different channels which belong to Instagram creators, each channel hosts multiple videos which can be up to 1-hour long.

    Until now, creators were only able to post up to 1-minute long videos (excluding live streaming), which makes the introduction of IGTV one of  the bigger changes on the social media platform.

    Creators are now able to create their own channels and populate them with videos. Their followers now have the opportunity to interact with them – by commenting and liking, which is visible to all users. There are a few categories that can be found in the app, like “For you”, “Following”, “Popular”, and “Continue Watching“.

    Why Has Instagram Decided to Introduce IGTV Now?

    There are a few reasons for this.

    Firstly, social media video content has exploded in the past couple of years, and no wonder! Did you know that users are 10 times more likely to engage with video content than with other type of posts? The reason is simple. People find video content easy to consume. It’s something that builds trust and ignites emotions better than any other type of content.

    Secondly, the rising popularity of Instagram Stories has taught us one thing – social media users like vertical videos.

    After the success of Instagram Stories, people easily adapted to watching vertical videos and Instagram saw a market for more long-form vertical video content. The standard horizontal videos that can be found on YouTube are a great way to watch videos, but unfortunately, they’re not very mobile-friendly. This is why vertical videos are especially popular with those who prefer to be on their smartphones rather than laptops or computers.

    Lastly, the fall of traditional TV paved the way for social media alternatives, which is exactly what IGTV hopes to become – a mobile-friendly alternative to traditional TV.

    Sign up to Amplifr and connect your Instagram profiles to receive best analytical insights and posting time predictions.

    What Makes IGTV Unique as Opposed to Other Video Apps?

    As we previously mentioned, there are already a couple of very popular social media platforms for sharing and watching videos. The most famous one is obviously YouTube, which is almost 15 years in the game and a level of popularity that’s only growing.

    So why has Instagram created a new platform for sharing videos? What makes IGTV different from all those other platforms like YouTube, Facebook Watch, or Snapchat Discover? Let’s compare and see.

    YouTube

    YouTube is one of the oldest and video platforms out there, and it’s definitely the most popular. It gives users a place to create channels and upload an unlimited number of videos for free. It also gives creators a chance to earn money by monetizing those videos via ads and affiliate marketing. But what’s different when compared with IGTV is that it’s made primarily for watching videos in landscape mode. It’s also a much larger and more diverse platform for all kinds of videos where you can watch movies, tutorials, cartoons, cooking recipes…

    Snapchat Discover

    Snapchat Discover is a platform that hosts only vertical videos, just like IGTV. However, those videos are always professionally made, from different publishers like CNN, BuzzFeed and Vice – and they’re exclusive to Snapchat. Snapchat doesn’t offer other users and smaller influencers a chance to create and publish videos as IGTV does.

    Facebook Watch

    Trying to reinvent TV is something that IGTV and Facebook Watch have in common – although they approached it from a different angle. Unlike IGTV, Facebook Watch is much more than a mobile-only video platform – it has all kinds of videos in portrait and landscape mode and it has the option for live streaming.

    IGTV

    The main difference, and you may say a unique feature of IGTV, is that users can only watch videos in vertical or portrait mode. Although it may sound strange, since almost every video is in landscape mode (movies in the cinema, TV channels, YouTube videos), the reason for this decision is simple – it’s the way in which we hold and use our mobile phones.

    IGTV is also unique in the way that you find content. For now, you can search and find different channels, but you can search for videos. When you open the app, videos start playing automatically, similar to a TV. You can change videos just like you change TV channels. IGTV will recommend you videos within three sections: videos that you may like (for you), videos from channels you follow, and the most popular videos on the platform.

    Instagram’s IGTV offers an addictive mobile experience. It’s similar but at the same time different enough from all those already existing video platforms we mentioned. Its goals may very well be to push more famous influencers to publish videos that users will watch on their mobile devices.

    With the help of statistics, we can predict that by 2021 almost 80% of the total mobile data traffic will be made only from mobile video. Keeping that in mind, the goal of this new Instagram-owned video platform may be to dominate that space with video content made specifically for mobile.

    What Is IGTV’s Purpose?

    Instagram has created its own app as the go-to place when it comes to watching online video content. This means that IGTV aspires to become the alternative platform for watching online videos, the “YouTube of vertical videos”, especially for the younger generations.

    The reason why IGTV is the new rival to both TV and YouTube instead of Facebook Watch is simple. When people visit Facebook, they interact on the platform in many different ways, from posting status updates, photos, and videos, to creating pages and groups, apart from watching videos. On the other hand, when people access the IGTV app, there’s only one reason behind this and that’s to watch videos, just like with TV or YouTube.

    What Does This Mean for Businesses and Influencers?

    Of course, since IGTV was introduced less than a year ago, it’ll take some time to become a strong platform for creating video content, but for now, we can only wait and observe its development. That being said, it’s safe to say that this feature might be a game-changer for brands, creators, and social media marketers marketing and trying to leave their mark on the platform.

    Let’s start with influencers.

    Even before IGTV, Instagram was and still is one of the best places for influencer marketing. One of the reasons is that Instagram, with over 1 billion active daily users, has a high level of user engagement. Also, Instagram’s most popular feature is Stories, and that’s where users spend most of their time when using this platform. Not to mention that, using the right hashtags increases user engagement and users can be targeted more easily and more accurately than on other social media platforms. So, all that being said, how will IGTV improve or change influencer marketing?

    Well, for starters, Instagram is now even more appealing to influencers since they have more freedom and more space for their marketing campaigns by creating their own channels with up to 1 hour long videos. Just as with television, users can switch different channels until they encounter the one that’ll pique their interest. They can enter the channel and watch the influencer’s videos just like you’d watch different programs on your favorite TV channels. This means that users now have another way in which they can find this video content, meaning influencers have gained yet another medium through which  they can connect with their target audience.

    Let’s continue with what IGTV means for brands.

    IGTV is so innovative that this new app is changing the way in which we watch video content by changing one simple yet important thing – vertical videos instead of horizontal ones. You might think that this isn’t such an important change, but you’d be wrong. The main reason why this is beneficial for businesses who market their brands on Instagram is that the majority of Instagram users are primarily mobile phone users. This means that when Instagram users are naturally holding their phones, they read and watch content in a vertical position. Since IGTV’s videos are vertical, this new format allows users a better experience – which works great for brands since they can use this feature and app for their marketing campaigns.

    IGTV also means that Instagram users will now spend more time on this platform than they used to – well, hopefully. Businesses will also be able to extend their storytelling and connect with their audiences, just like it’s the case with influencers.

    One more benefit for both influencers and businesses is the fact that IGTV is still kinda new feature and app. As more and more businesses are trying to reach consumers via YouTube by creating their own channels, there’s one downside. YouTube is overcrowded with channels and videos, meaning it’s getting harder and harder to find an audience and grow your channel. Since IGTV is so recent, the chances for your channel to stand out increase considerably. If done the right way, IGTV can increase your social media presence – whether you’re a creator, an influencer, or a business, so the faster you start using IGTV, the better the chances for you to stand out and attract an audience.

    When it comes to advertising, IGTV doesn’t yet offer ad placement. This will surely change in time, so while there still isn’t a lot of competition, we suggest that you use this space to make a name for yourself and your business.

    How to Use IGTV?

    One more great thing about IGTV is that it’s very easy to use.

    You can use IGTV in two ways. You can either open your Instagram app and click on the IGTV icon, or download the IGTV app directly. When the home screen opens, you’ll automatically be given a video to watch from a channel whose creator you’re already following. You can then change the video, change the channel, or use one of the four given categories for easier navigation like “For You”, “Following”, “Popular”, or “History”.

    And what if you want to create your own channel?

    That’s easy as well. Once you open the app you’ll be given the option to create your own IGTV creator account.

    Don’t worry, you don’t have to create a completely new account if you’re already on Instagram and have a big audience. Instagram will give you the option to connect your Instagram account to your IGTV account so that your followers can see the videos that you create.

    To add a video, simply click on the “+” icon and that’s when Instagram will request a permission to access your photo and video library. Accept this request, choose a video that you wish to upload, and click on the “Upload” button. That’s it!

    In order for your video to have more reach, write the title and the description wisely. Make the text SEO rich by using strategic keywords which you can find by using keyword research tools. Also, make sure that the thumbnail photo you use draws attention so that more people are interested to click on it and see it.

    How Does IGTV Resonate With Users

    Since its introduction and launch in June 2018, IGTV’s mobile video platform is being used by both big and small brands and influencers, and less by individual users – less than expected at least. That being said, IGTV has had its own issues after launching.

    There has been an ongoing issue with quality – a lot of low-quality videos as opposed to a smaller number of super high-quality ones from big brands, which hasn’t exactly given users the real TV experience.

    Apart from them  not really being able to choose the type of content they wanted to see, and there have been a few setbacks. For example, the platform has had videos with child abuse content appearing in recommended videos, although Instagram has removed them in the aftermath of a public backlash.

    Since its launch, there were some changes to IGTV’s managing team and some tweaks were made in the hopes that it will bring a better user experience.

    Despite the changes, IGTV is not as popular as its creators thought it would be. But hey, it has been only 8 months since its launch, so there’s still plenty of time for this video feature to grow and develop. It’s mostly used by celebrities and brands instead of individual users, and it’s even used by YouTube creators – although mostly to promote their channels.

    As we said, it might need more time for users to get used to it, so we’ll get back to you in a year to see where things stand with IGTV.

    Sign up to Amplifr and connect your Instagram profiles to receive best analytical insights and posting time predictions.

    Final Words

    IGTV is an innovative feature and app which is a win-win for both users and creators – in theory at least. It’s a mobile-friendly way to connect followers with engaging content and help brands and influencers establish a better relationship with their fans.

    Will IGTV become the new YouTube one day? All we can do for now is wait and see.

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