On March 21, 2006, the social media world was changed forever with the launch of Twitter. Four years later, on October 6, 2010, the debut of Instagram once again redefined our idea of “social media,” 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 $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.
In 2018, Instagram continued to put their picture-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 was 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 long term, but we have a few ideas of how it might be used.
What is Instagram TV?
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.
InstagramTV (better known as IGTV), much like its Instagram stories feature, favors those with more followers. Instagram stories allow accounts which are considered highly influential on the platform to post links in their 15-second stories, a great tool for conversions and promotion.
Similarly, Instagram now allows 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.
IGTV is still relatively new, so these observations are still early, but here is the good, the bad and the potentially awesome capabilities of the feature so far.
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.
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 still 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 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
With InstagramTV still new in the eyes of many users, how can you start using the service to reach a broader audience?
Use existing content
The best way to start using InstagramTV is to reformat content you’ve already created for a handheld screen. If you’ve already started creating video content for other platforms like YouTube or Facebook, repurposing them for a different audience should be relatively easy.
This might be tricky if your videos are shot for a wider screen, but if you are able to reformat, you’ll be able to start using IGTV immediately and appeal to your followers in a new way.
If you can brainstorm how to use IG TV in a new creative way, 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 an interesting trend and InstagramTV 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 be something we start seeing 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. 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.
So, to take advantage of the spike in impressions we’re seeing, act fast, be creative and keep it simple.
The Last Word on InstagramTV
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 InstagramTV does.
As creators and businesses find ways to grow using the app, 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.