IGTV: The Ins and Outs
You have probably seen the new button on top of your Instagram account, and you've possibly already clicked it: IGTV! To celebrate the impressive achievement of reaching 1 billion users, Instagram launched the new video platform for content creators - it lets you upload videos up to an hour long, all vertical that is. To keep us all on top of our social game, we at Dept are asking ourselves the question: is this feature going to be too much and is Instagram trying to copycat YouTube or is IGTV actually going to be a hit?
Instagram, the Unicorn
After all this time, millennials still stick to Instagram as their daily social platform. But why? We have seen a lot of new social platforms that all bragged to be better than the ones we already had, which eventually failed dramatically (ehem, Vero). But we also heard a lot of complaints around our office and from our friends about the new algorithm of Instagram, lots of unwanted ads and not seeing posts from your friends anymore. When Mark Zuckerberg copped Instagram, everyone was afraid that Instagram would turn into Facebook 2.0. And in some optics, it has. But because of Instagram being such a strong concept on its own and still sticking enough to its old idea of what the app should give the audience, everyone still settles: for the simple reason that there’s no better platform to share the content you want your audience to see, visually wise. Instagram seems to be the undefeatable king.
Since October 2017, Instagram has blessed the world with Instagram Stories. While everyone noticed it was a direct copy of Snapchat Stories, they kept their mouths shut. Because eventually, lots of users, influencers and brands got a bigger following on Instagram. For them it would be a lot easier to just post their content, both 24-hours-only and permanent posts on their feed, together on one platform. The trend we saw back then, when Instagram introduced Stories but Snapchat was still very popular (kind of the Twilight zone) is that people kept posting their stories to both platforms for a while. When Instagram Stories also adapted face filters, stickers, timestamps, and even GIFs, they proved Stories was a better option for everyone and it was here to stay. Easy does it, apparently.
Video is Forever
Now back to IGTV. What is it and how should we use it? It’s basically an app in an app where we can upload videos up to an hour long. Why do we need it? We should definitely face the fact the world is changing from horizontal to vertical; in videos that is. More and more content is popping up that can only be watched vertical, even movie trailers. Studies even say that by 2020, 50% of all video viewing will be done on a mobile screen and by 2021, mobile video will account for 78% of total mobile data traffic. The question we should ask ourselves: is it too much for one app? From personal beliefs, I think for example Facebook - as a social platform - is being too busy and complicated at the moment. We are being bombarded with event invites, we receive direct messages (which we have to check on a different app, very frustrating), ads from numerous companies, notifications that it’s someone's birthday, memories every day that remind you what happened on Facebook X years ago, you can now like a post, but also give it a heart or even an angry smiley: it’s too much. Maybe that’s the reason a lot of millennials find their comfort in using Instagram as their daily app: it’s just photo’s, DM’s and stories. Very synoptic. We can deal with that in our world full of constant updates and stimulation. So my first thought is: let’s leave it like that and give us our old algorithm back, please. We don’t need a new function called IGTV.
So why is Instagram trying to be the next YouTube? Well, they are actually trying to be unique. IGTV is deliberately designed to reflect the experience of watching television. Other platforms might require for the audience to search and select videos to play, but on IGTV everything automatically starts playing. It fits neatly with the ‘search’ page on Instagram, because the IGTV app searches for videos you might like, under the tabs ‘For You’ and ‘Popular’. Under the tab ‘Following’ you’ll find all the videos the people you follow have uploaded. It’s a nice and easy way to find content you would enjoy watching and maybe come back for. Brands who are already publishing some great content are Louis Vuitton, Nike and Buzzfeed.
What’s also a big plus for influencers, brands and other big accounts, is that your IGTV is linked to your Instagram account. So users who, for example, find you in ‘Popular’, can immediately click through to your Instagram account and users who already follow you, can click quickly to your Instagram account. In that way, it is really just an extra, handy way to show yourself to the world. It is possible to add a description, title and thumbnail to every video and link to your IGTV channel from your Story with a simple ‘swipe up’. Your followers can leave comments and likes on your videos and you have access to insights. There’s even a handy chart available to show where the viewership increases and drops. With these facts it looks likes it does add something to the whole experience, right?
The only way to find out, is to wait and see: it could go both ways. Can it compete against YouTube with only vertical videos? A lot of influencers, brands and personal accounts already shared videos on IGTV in the past couple of weeks. They shared videos that already exist, only to be made vertical, but they were also really quick to create content especially for IGTV. It’s for example a great platform to share makeup tutorials (like influencer Riley Beek demonstrates) or ideal to publish funny sketches (like comedian Lilly Singh posted).
However, people do have to get used to the vertical-ness of it all. In the reviews for IGTV in the App store, we find comments like ‘Why is this vertical only? We just got people to film horizontally’ and ‘Nicely tried, but why do this if we already have YouTube?’. Yet, as a mobile first app, which is simple and unique, this could definitely be a game changer.
IGTV for brands
So as an influencer, content maker, or just a person doing this for fun, it is definitely worth a try. But what about brands? How can we make profit from IGTV? I think the key to sharing any content is to make it relevant and that’s where your target audience comes in. Is your following mainly based on checking out your personal style? Your cooking tutorial videos? Your travelling stories? Try creating content that fits your personal Instagram style. As a business such as Dept, we believe most of our followers follow us for fun content within the office, but also for new work and interesting events. As Instagram is still known for its beautiful visuals and quick and funny videos, those are the guidelines for any content. This can be translated in interviews or Q&As with the main subject of your Instagram page, video introductions or tutorials, exclusive insider content or recurring topics. For now, there is no option to advertise your IGTV videos but there may be in the near future.
So what do you think? Are you crazy enthusiastic about IGTV or are you going to stick with the stories and posts? As for us, we’re not completely convinced, but eventually time will tell.
Richelle Rondel is brand manager at digital agency Dept