Instagram has reached a global community of 1 billion users! To go along with that milestone, in June it released IGTV. The standalone video app is made for watching long-form, vertical video made by your favorite Instagram creators.
According to Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO at Instagram, “IGTV begins a new chapter of video on Instagram.”
There’s a lot of buzz surrounding this new app, so here’s a breakdown of the most important things to know when creating your strategy.
Many marketers might be thinking, “Video is already available on Instagram, so how is this different?”
For starters, IGTV is a video-first platform, made to watch on mobile. Unlike traditional Instagram, video is the only type of content you’ll see here (as of today). However, the two apps work together seamlessly.
For instance, Instagram users can now access IGTV from the Instagram app by selecting the new TV icon in the top menu. (see photo at right)
Instagram users can quickly create their own IGTV channel through the stand-alone app. (You’ll be prompted to connect accounts if you’re already logged into Instagram on your mobile device.) Uploading a video for the first time to IGTV will also create your channel. Be sure to run the latest update of Instagram if you’re not seeing the TV icon.
Once users select the icon on Instagram, they’re taken to IGTV. From there, video content immediately auto-plays. The platform plays videos that are suggested for you and keeps playing videos until a user stops or closes the app. Users can also browse popular content, as well as content from creators and brands they’re following on Instagram, and can even continue watching videos from past viewing sessions.
IGTV’s goal is to establish itself as a long-form video platform. One key difference from traditional Instagram video is that IGTV allows for videos to be up to 10 minutes in duration and 60 minutes for creators with large followings and verified users. That’s a long stretch from the 15- to 60-second duration that Instagram traditionally allowed.
Another important topic for publishers is that this platform is solely focused on the vertical video format. “It’s built for how you actually use your phone, so videos are full screen and vertical,” Systrom explains. (see photo)
We’ll cover some of the technical specs for publishers below, but back to the actual app for a moment.
The user experience is something that should excite many creators. One goal of the platform is to create an experience for users where they can enjoy video without distractions. With the use of channels, publishers can create a slew of video content for their brand that will continue to play for viewers as long as they stay on said channel.
IGTV Tech Specs
Some of the technical specs for creating and publishing content to IGTV have changed from traditional Instagram video.
IGTV uses a 9×16 aspect ratio, rather than the original square ratio used on Instagram.
IGTV allows for file sizes up to 3.6GB and accepts .MP4 formats.
While video length has drastically increased from Instagram, publishers need to remember the user experience on IGTV. The full-screen format and “continue watching” options are nice, but the fact that users can easily swipe to other content is something to consider when deciding on length for your IGTV videos. Personally, I found it very easy to close out a video, which takes you back to regular Instagram, when accessing IGTV outside of the stand-alone app. Two to three minutes is a good starting point for these early days on the new platform.
IGTV also allows creators to upload their videos via computer when using Instagram on a desktop or laptop. Just select the IGTV icon when logged into your Instagram account. At this step, you can upload videos and other metadata straight from your device.
Publishers should be excited about the metadata that IGTV allows you to add to a video. Not only can you craft a good title, but you can also add live hyperlinks to the description of your IGTV videos. These can act as powerful calls-to-action for videos and campaigns.
In addition, you can add clickable hashtags to the video descriptions, furthering the social conversation around other relevant content.
Of course, everyone knows the power of a good thumbnail. IGTV allows for custom JPEG thumbnails (AKA cover photos) that fit a 420 x 654 pixel resolution.
Similar to YouTube and other platforms, the cover photos can serve as a mini billboards and previews to entice viewers to watch your videos. Specifically on IGTV, viewers will see cover photos when browsing through the app’s bottom navigation. (see photo at right)
Helpful IGTV Hints and Tips
So how should brands craft a strategy?
For starters, if you’re already using Instagram videos for your brand, then IGTV is a perfect destination. You’ve already got a following and audience built, so it’s an easy leap. The two apps work together seamlessly.
Traditional Instagram continues to allow for video uploading, but some of the benefits mentioned above, including longer durations and clickable calls-to-action, are features that have been missing from Instagram, especially when compared to video platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook.
One thing that’s not quite clear is how live streaming will play a part. As of this article, the live streaming feature falls under traditional Instagram and is not available here. However, I have to believe this will change as IGTV becomes the central hub for all of Instagram’s video content.
Finally, brands need to look at the IGTV platform from a bird’s eye view. Keep in mind that it’s designed as a vertical, mobile, and social platform.
There’s a good mix of produced content as well as videos recorded on smartphones. This blended distribution model should be experimented with. Delmondo wrote a helpful article highlighting some examples of top brands on IGTV.
Publishers should pay close attention to the technical specs and deliver a tailored experience when repurposing other video content. As always, keep in mind that any type of content is a reflection of your brand. IGTV does give you insights on your videos, so review and analyze these to see what type of videos work best.
Most importantly, remember the Instagram was designed as a visual and social platform. Quality and social engagement go a long way and are proven ways to increase growth on Instagram.