Instagram recently launched its longer form video content play with IGTV, a platform-specific video channel which will focus on promoting the work of content creators, giving them a new way to connect with their fans.
As explained by Instagram:
“These days, people are watching less TV and more digital video. By 2021, mobile video will account for 78% of total mobile data traffic. And we’ve learned that younger audiences are spending more time with amateur content creators and less time with professionals.”
Up until now, video content on Instagram has been limited to a maximum of 60 seconds in feeds, and 10 seconds per Stories frame. To create anything longer, users needed to piece together a bunch of shorter Stories clips, or add multiple videos to a single post, and neither option is suitable in a digital world where seamless is now the standard.
And seamless video consumption is clearly a theme for IGTV. Unlike YouTubers, IGTV users don’t need to search for videos. A single click opens the app, and the videos start rolling immediately.
In the broader landscape, IGTV is a relatively small addition, but it could have a major impact on digital video. Here's an overview of Instagram's new video option, and some tips on how you can make the most of it.
First off, here's a listing of the initial specs and details for IGTV content:
- Videos are full screen and vertical
- Videos can be anywhere from 15 seconds long, to 60 minutes (the full 60 minutes is currently only available to verified accounts, all other users have a limit of 10 minutes)
- Users can watch IGTV content from within the Instagram app, or they can download the dedicated IGTV app
- Videos start to play automatically upon opening the IGTV app
- Users can like or comment on videos, or send videos to friends via DM
- Creators have their own 'channels' like YouTube (and anyone can be a creator)
- Videos can be uploaded via the IGTV app or the web
- File size: Up to 3.6GB
- File type: MP4
- Video size: 9:16
- Video thumbnail/cover image: .JPG
- As of launch, no advertising options are available, but Instagram says it eventually plans to make sure popular video creators are able to make money from their efforts
As noted, to access IGTV, you can either download the app from your Play Store/App Store:
Or if you already have Instagram (who doesn’t?) you can access IGTV by clicking the TV icon in the top right corner of the app.
Creating your own IGTV channel is a simple process.
First, click or tap on the settings cog-wheel icon once you're in the IGTV section (or in the app). From the menu, select 'Create Channel'.
Best Practices for Posting on IGTV
It'll take some time to formulate the best strategy for each brand and individual on IGTV, but here are some general tips to help make the most of your efforts.
2-5 Minute Videos
While videos only have to be 15 seconds long, we suggest utilizing the feature for all it’s worth and posting content that’s 2-5 minutes long. Shorter videos are a better fit for your old-school feed, and longer videos tend to strain attention spans (remember you’re still in the social media realm).
85% of Facebook videos are viewed without sound, and in our experience, that number holds true across all social platforms (YouTube excluded). If your content relies on dialogue to get your story across, then you’d be wise to add subtitles.
But the vertical video interface means you can’t just upload a regular subtitle SRT file - instead, you’ll need to hard-code the subtitles into your video.
Unfortunately, there’s no closed captioning feature within IGTV, so if you do include subtitles, then they'll be in there for good. It’s your creative choice but video viewership trends suggest that subtitles can be beneficial.
Best Practices for Filming Vertical Video
Influencers and brands who want to maintain a distinguished look will generally steer clear of filming with their smartphones. Given this, the vertical video format of IGTV can pose an issue, as professional video equipment was not built with the format in mind.
Video cameras are designed to film in horizontal widescreen, but with a little ingenuity, you can hack the system.
One way to do this is to turn your video camera 90 degrees. Your camera’s software will upload the footage in horizontal wide-screen, so in post-production, your editor will have to rotate the video to leave it permanently vertical.
If you don’t have the resources for an additional camera to film vertically, you can edit your footage in post-production to fit vertically, albeit by cutting off the sides and focusing solely on your subject.
No matter how good your smartphone’s camera is, you'll never come close to the image quality of a dedicated video camera. If that’s ok with you, then you may want to invest in a smartphone with a top-of-the-line camera. Yes, it can be a hefty investment, but it’s a smartphone – it does serve additional purposes.
If you’re looking to get even closer to video camera quality, you can check out attachable lenses. Attachable lenses will run you $20-$100, but if used properly, they're well worth the investment.
Promoting Your IGTV Channel
When you first open the IGTV app, you’ll be presented with the ‘For You’ tab. This is a mix of channels from the two tabs to the right – ‘Following’ and ‘Popular.’
The ‘Following’ tab contains videos from people you’re following, while the ‘Popular’ tab showcases videos which are trending on the platform.
Since ‘For You’ is the default tab it’s a good idea to try and get your content in there. We’ve used IGTV for a week and have gathered that featured content on IGTV gets there the same way it does in regular ol’ Instagram - verified accounts you follow and accounts you engage with regularly are the first to populate ‘For You,’ followed by videos that are trending.
Trending content on our feed tended to be videos with 50k-100k views. We can assume that just like the regular Instagram algorithm, IGTV puts an emphasis not just on total view count, but also on how quickly those views are amassed.
Your existing followers are the most likely to see your content when it first goes live, so to maximize engagement within the first 24-hours after you post, it’s important your followers know you’ve posted to IGTV.
Try utilizing Instagram’s other, more established features to promote your IGTV video - tease your audience in a 10-second story, or intrigue them with an image on your feed.
Take Advantage Now
Instagram TV fills the gap between YouTube, where users expect long videos but need to search for them, and Snapchat/Instagram Stories, where users are instantly fed content, but only in bite-sized pieces. It’s a novel form of video content delivery, and it’s housed in an app that 500 million people check daily.
At the time of publishing, IGTV is less than a month old, but in that first month we've already seen the number of videos posted daily rising. It’s not too late to seize an early-mover advantage right now, but you'll need to move quickly - so get onto IGTV and see what you can come up with.