By now, you’ve probably heard of IGTV.
But should you be using it?
Instagram’s latest feature hasn’t hit it big just yet, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t present a valuable opportunity for marketers.
Read on to find out if – and how – your brand can take advantage of IGTV.
What is IGTV?
IGTV, formally known as Instagram TV, is the newest video format from Instagram.
And essentially, it’s (almost) exactly what it sounds like.
It’s TV, made solely for Instagram.
Except in most cases, this TV spot is only ten minutes long.
Unless you’re touting a major brand name with a major following (in which case you get up to 60 minutes of run time), all videos must be between 15 seconds and 10 minutes long.
Launched in June 2018, IGTV lives inside Instagram, but also has its very own, standalone app. It allows brands and Instagram users to create their own channels, where they can upload and store videos for their followers.
Think of it as something in between Stories and full-blown YouTube videos.
They likely won’t be as sophisticated and polished as a YouTube video, but less raw than a Story. Shorter than YouTube, but longer than a Story.
Who can see your IGTV channel depends on how you’ve set your privacy settings. If your account is public, anyone can view your videos. But if it’s private, only your followers will be able to view.
To access IGTV, simply tap the TV icon at the top left of your screen.
Once there, you’ll immediately see a video start playing. Under it, you can choose from “For You,” “Following,” “Popular,” or “History.”
The Case For (And Against) IGTV for Marketing
IGTV has experienced a somewhat slow build.
Though it’s still in its very early stages, the format hasn’t experienced anything near the crushing popularity of say, the Story format rollout.
And five months after rollout, IGTV has yet to produce a serious hit.
That doesn’t mean influencers – and brands – aren’t trying (we’ll get to that shortly).
But despite the slow build, there are definite advantages to the IGTV side of storytelling.
First and foremost, this is Instagram we’re talking about.
The social giant has proved to be one of the most versatile and popular platforms out there, with content ranging from a series of selfies to brand product promotions and influencer takeovers.
And, though it started out as a photo-driven channel, video is quickly becoming the most popular format. In fact, Instagram’s seen an 80% increase year-over-year for videos, with the number of videos created each day quadrupling since 2017.
Which brings me to my next point.
IGTV is, of course, a video format. But it’s unique in that it’s completely vertical, formatted to be viewed on a mobile screen – no phone flipping or expanding required.
For regular Instagram users (or mobile users, for that matter), this format could give IGTV a leg up from other video platforms like YouTube.
And for any brands worrying that the specs may present a problem for any existing videos, there are a few ways to reformat to fit IGTV.
Lastly, because IGTV hasn’t yet broken into mainstream marketing, it represents a big opportunity for brands willing to break new ground.
The biggest barrier right now seems to be the element of the unknown IGTV presents.
What’s the return?
What kind of content works?
Are audiences even watching?
Because there’s not yet a clear formula to follow or emulate, many are hesitant to make the leap.
But be aware, brands are watching and waiting for an opportunity.
Influencer marketing company Activate’s VP of Studio and Strategy Lauren McGrath recently told Digiday, “We’re in a bit of a testing stage for IGTV…But given the conversations I’ve had, there’s definite interest and willingness to create on IGTV so they can build up the case study if it’s effective for them.”
For now, brands that do incorporate IGTV into their marketing strategies have a chance to get ahead of the game.
The key, of course, is creating content that will reach and resonate with viewers on IGTV. That means brands can’t be afraid to experiment and incorporate a little creativity.
AdAge notes that the early experimenters in IGTV are opting for “weird” (hamster soccer from BuzzFeed, anyone)?
And while your strategy doesn’t have to be too over the top, it proves that IGTV is a place for a little more outlandish, personality-driven content, and ideal for any brand willing to take a few risks.
How Brands Can Use IGTV for Marketing
IGTV fits into an interesting space in social media.
That alone is part of its appeal.
“IGTV is a content format that can extend and amplify and add further engagement from an existing campaign. Longer-form video is still based around YouTube, and IGTV is becoming a more important spoke to that wheel,” Activate’s McGrath said.
There’s an important takeaway here: IGTV isn’t a standalone platform. And those who find success with it will use it in conjunction with other marketing mixes and channels.
It could be a prelude to a longer YouTube video, or an expansion of Instagram post or Story.
Here are a few ways marketers can incorporate IGTV into their strategy.
Use it as Part of an Influencer Marketing Campaign
For now, the biggest IGTV inspiration for brands seems to be influencer marketing.
Which makes sense, given that the format reaches a smaller audience. To make the most of it and attract as many viewers as possible, recruiting the help of a popular influencer is one of the easiest ways to gain some traction.
It’s also a great way to add on to any current influencer campaigns. Instagram is a leading platform for influencers, so adding IGTV to the mix isn’t much or a stretch.
Take Netflix, for example. The streaming service enlisted the help of actor Cole Sprouse.
What did he do? He ate a burger. For one hour.
And the audience ate it up (no pun intended), with the video racking up over a million views.
This fits right into the “weird” category, I’d say, and proves again that a little humor can go a very long way in social media.
IGTV for Marketing: Create Product Hacks and How-To’s
This is pretty standard for video marketing: if you produce a product, use video to show what that can product can do.
I don’t mean the boring, old-school product demo; I mean showing off little-known ideas or inspiration for how to use a product.
The fashion brand used IGTV to show off one dress, and how can it be worn three different ways for different occasions.
And while lifestyle and fashion brands lend themselves well to video, that doesn’t mean B2Bs or other business types can’t take advantage of IGTV to demonstrate their services.
For example, take a look at this email from Drift highlighting a few little-known services their product provides.
Instead of relying just on email, they could produce a short video explaining how to set up and use some of these features.
Of course, it would need a catchy name and some intriguing graphics to go along with it, but it just goes to show that with a little creativity, you can translate many of your existing marketing materials into video format.
Showcase Long-Form Content
In some ways, you can think of IGTV as you would a webinar or podcast platform.
In fact, online entrepreneur James Wedmore posts podcasts directly to IGTV.
Or, maybe you have a piece of long-form content – a blog post or white paper, for example – that would translate well to video.
This is a strategy I’ve talked about for Instagram Stories, but instead of chopping the content up into shorter sections, you can record and upload an entire video recording.
National Geographic – who kills it on Instagram – used IGTV to broadcast the finale of their show “One Strange Rock.”
Essentially, they took their TV broadcast and formatted it into a vertical format for IGTV. And though many brands might not have their own TV shows, they likely have a long blog, webinar, or YouTube video that can be reformatted to the new Instagram channel.
Make a Point to Promote IGTV
One barrier to entry: unlike a newsfeed or Stories feed, IGTV doesn’t appear on the homepage.
It’s not a simple click and scroll, and it isn’t handily available right at the top of your screen.
Instead, users have to click the tiny TV icon at the top left.
Now, this really doesn’t require all that much work. But it does require one extra step that some people haven’t yet made a part of their daily Instagram fix.
Which means as marketers, you need to make a point of directing users to IGTV. Tell them to click the button in your posts, your newsletters, your blog, what have you, to unlock your video.
Nash Grier, social media influencer extraordinaire, used his Twitter status to direct followers to his IGTV video.
But there’s another way around this one: share your IGTV to your Story, so it takes up homepage real estate.
To do so, just open up the video on IGTV and tap the send arrow. Then, tap “add to your Story.”
If you’d like, you can add in any filters, text, etc. Then tap Send to > Your Story > Share.
Now, anyone that taps on the video in your Story will be able to watch on IGTV.
It’s a pretty cool trick to gain more traffic, and I highly suggest using it.
IGTV for Marketing: Best Practices
Because this is a new format, it brings with it some unique features.
When using it, always keep the following in mind:
- Keep in on-brand – as always, make sure any video you post represents your brand and appeals to your target audience
- Use the title and description – unlike Stories, IGTV videos can include titles and descriptions. Like any other content, these should be catchy, properly represent the video, and include keywords and phrases that will help fans find the video via search
- Use hashtags in your descriptions – these also show up in search, and will help you video be more discoverable (try using branded hashtags as well)
- Upload a cover image – like YouTube, IGTV videos come with thumbnail cover images. A default one will be chosen by Instagram, but you’ll likely do better creating and uploading one on your own.
- Try to keep it brief – though IGTV is mean to accomodate longer videos, delivering your information as concisely as possible is always a plus
- Cross-promote on other channels – remember, IGTV should be integrated into your overall marketing strategy, which means placing your video and cross-promoting it across social channels, email marketing, etc.
So, Should Your Brand be Using IGTV for Marketing?
That really depends on your brand and the kind of content you can offer.
If you have a reputation for being somewhat quirky or an out-of-the-box brand, you should absolutely try to bring that element to an IGTV strategy.
Or, if you’ve had previous success with Instagram – and especially Instagram Stories – you can likely translate more easily over to IGTV.
Beyond that, if your brand has an effective video strategy, you can likely easily adapt it to fit IGTV.
If, however, your brand is newer to social media and Instagram specifically, you may want to start slowly and get comfortable with posts and Stories before jumping into the longer video format.
Those that do decide to give IGTV a try should keep the golden rule of marketing in mind: everything you create needs to be catered to your target audience.
Think about the kind of content that’s worked best for you in the past, and try to brainstorm ways to create similar content in a video geared primarily towards your social followers.
Wrapping Up IGTV For Marketing
IGTV represents an opportunity for brands.
Though it hasn’t experienced the extreme popularity as other Instagram features, it’s likely only a matter of time before more marketers jump on the bandwagon.