Instagram TV: The Good, the Bad & the Potentially Awesome

On March 21, 2006, the social media world was changed forever with the launch of Twitter.

Four years later, October 6, 2010, the rollout of Instagram again redefined our idea of “social media,” while simultaneously turning everyone with a smartphone into a professional photographer.

While Facebook led the way into this generation of cyber socialization (honorable mention: Myspace), in recent years they have found themselves falling out of favor among a younger audience as Instagram and Twitter continued to grow.

In response, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg aggressively worked towards purchasing Instagram, officially making the acquisition in 2012 for a cool $1 billion.

In the years that would follow, Instagram would go on to introduce feature after feature, starting with videos, then longer videos, followed by “stories” and direct messaging.

This week, Instagram continued to put their pictures-only origin behind them with the introduction of IGTV, an outlet for long-form videos shot in the vertical format of a phone screen.

It’s a polarizing move, to say the least. Users have gone as far as comparing the new feature to video content juggernaut YouTube. With that being said, it remains to be seen how the new feature will be received by Instagram’s 1 billion users, but we have a few ideas of how it might be used.

What Business Owners Need to Know About Instagram’s New IGTV

Before we get into how business owners, artists, photographers, and the array of other creators on Instagram can use this new outlet to expand their brand, let’s first discuss the details.

IGTV, much like its Instagram stories feature, favors those with more followers. IG stories allow accounts which are considered highly influential on the platform or have labeled their page as a business account to post links in their 15-second stories, a great tool for conversions and promotion.

Similarly, Instagram will now allow their “Insta-famous” users to post videos up to an hour’s length while regulating the average user to a 10-minute max. However, unless you plan on starting a palm-sized television series, the need for a video any longer than 10 minutes is unnecessary.

Here’s why:

The Bad

To say there isn’t a market for extended video length on handheld devices would be foolish. We all have used our phones to watch long-form videos of many kinds on both Facebook and YouTube. The difference is both of those platforms allow you to consume their content on other devices as well.

Could you imagine watching an hour’s worth of concert footage or a short documentary on your phone in vertical format? You’d probably opt to watch something on a bigger screen using YouTube instead which appears to be who Instagram is aiming to compete within this area of content.

Instagram’s desktop alternative is lackluster compared to its competitors. Where Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube offer an experience that either equals or exceeds that of its respective mobile app, Instagram.com lacks key features, most notably the ability to post to your page and access direct messages.

IGTV also appears to be absent from the desktop version of Instagram, something that could end up costing them a large portion of viewers to their competitors.

The Good

IGTV is going to be welcomed with open arms by creators as it offers them more freedom than ever before on the platform. Without a 1-minute restriction, the content possibilities will be endless.

When you “start a channel” you are essentially hoping to establish a feed for your audience to check back on for new videos as you post them.

While IGTV appears to favor Instagrammers with millions of followers, there are benefits to be had for all users.

Video length restrictions can steer businesses and other pages away from getting too involved with the video aspect of Instagram. But with a section entirely dedicated to videos now, there is a new audience to reach, especially those who don’t sit in front of a computer screen very often.

The Potentially Awesome

One thing we’ve seen with social media is it doesn’t take long for users to get acclimated with new features and use it in ways that the developers may not have even thought of.

Whenever a new feature is added to one of our favorite apps it creates a divide – those who are fond of it and those who already enjoyed the app as it was. Instagram may have found a way around this conflict.

They’ve given IGTV the ability to stand alone as a separate entity while still making it seamlessly accessible from your traditional Instagram feed. This may appease some of the naysayers who would otherwise feel like they are being forced to change their scrolling habits with more filler to sift through.

How to Use IGTV to Grow Your Brand

So, with plenty of question marks still surrounding the arrival of IGTV, how can you begin taking advantage of the new service as soon as possible?

Be First

The coming weeks are sure to include many firsts for the platform as usage increases and more and more users start posting to their “channels.”

With the ability to post up to 10-minute clips, you could be the first one in your industry to start a weekly video series of informative or funny content and start getting recognized for it immediately.

Be Original

If you can brainstorm a unique way to use this new video platform, you are sure to attract some eyes as the app continues to evolve.

If you’re a musician, posting original content with each new song has become a very beneficial trend. This gives you an outlet that makes it easier to do than ever before.

If you’re a restaurant, posting videos of your chef preparing a lunch special you are serving that afternoon or simply a friendly commercial-style promotion could very much be tactic we soon see being put to full use.

Keep It Short

Just because Instagram has given you a full 10 minutes to use doesn’t mean you need to use it. Early statistics on the new videos being posted have shown that the percentage of the video being watched drops off severely around the 1:30 mark and continues to decline.

 

Photographer Hung Doan posted his account’s tracked impressions to Facebook after a week with IGTV.

 

So, to take advantage of the spike in impressions we’re seeing, act fast, be creative and keep it simple.

While many people often disapprove of changes being made to their favorite social media apps, there’s no denying the excitement that surrounds a new feature when we get them – especially one that seems to have a lot of growth ahead of it like IGTV does.

As creators and businesses alike find their own ways to use the app to further the growth of their brand, it’s up to you to decide what works for you or if this type of feature is even something that you will find useful.

While IGTV might not be for everyone, the beauty of it is it’s there, and if you ever do find a use for it, it’s just a tap of a finger away.

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