Instagram recently made waves with the launch of their new video platform, IGTV. A greater focus on video content seems like a natural evolution for Instagram—and it’s a shift that has the potential to make a pretty significant impact online.
Online videos are here to stay. People are watching less TV, but are consuming more digital content, especially on their phones. It’s estimated that by 2021, mobile video will make up 77 percent of total mobile traffic. Enter IGTV—a platform made explicitly for watching videos on your phone.
At the launch, Instagram’s co-founder, Kevin Systrom, emphasized the tools we currently watch video on are outdated—and horizontally formatted—best suited for desktop viewing or television. Recognizing that younger audiences are spending more time on their digital devices often watching amateur content creators and the online influencers that they relate to instead of traditional programming, IGTV offers an online hub where these influencers, brands—and anyone—can upload videos that range from one minute to one hour in length.
Let’s dive right in to what IGTV means for brands, marketers, and content creators. How will it change the way we make and consume content?
Up until now, Instagram has owned short form, curated content. But IGTV opens the door for lengthier and richer stories. It’s a chance for users to learn more about the topics they care about and the influencers they love—all without leaving Instagram. The vertical format lends itself well to first-person perspectives and interviews, and is a chance for brands and influencers to build deeper, more intimate relationships with their audiences.
National Geographic (@NatGeo), for example, made their debut with a 47-minute documentary that follows NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson (hosted by Will Smith, to boot!).
Not every video needs to be this in-depth—Instagram suggests that 10 minutes is the optimal length—but it’s an opportunity to invite audiences to stick around for a little longer.
Higher production values.
The introduction of longer videos could mean spending more time and resources on production. Unlike YouTube which houses user-generated content of all kinds, Instagram users expect photos and videos that are more thoughtful and curated—with Stories being the home for informal, spur-of-the-moment style content.
This doesn’t mean that brands need to invest in heavily produced and polished videos to succeed—IGTV content can still feel organic, personal and authentic, but the longer format will require thought and planning.
So far, in an effort to test the waters, many early adapters seem to be re-cutting older content. Clothing brand, Everlane for example, has repurposed much of their behind-the-scenes footage for IGTV. For fans of the brand, it provides a closer look at how products are made, and the company culture—bringing their brand story of exceptional quality, ethically made products and radical transparency to life in an interesting and tangible way.
Changing the game for influencers.
It used to be that YouTube was the only option for users that were looking to consume only video content. With IGTV, audiences no longer have to scroll through the clutter in their social feeds in search of video content by their favorite brands and influencers—it’s now available in one easy location. This could increase discoverability and viewership for content creators, and gives users the opportunity to subscribe to the channels they’re most interested in.
Facebook-owned Instagram isn’t offering advertising on IGTV—yet. But, as one of the world’s largest digital advertising companies, it’s safe to assume that ads will be incorporated into IGTV video streams in the future. And Instagram has also promised that influencers will eventually have the opportunity to monetize their content, though the social network has not yet confirmed how.
Ultimately, if you’re feeling like IGTV is just one more channel to waste time on, Instagram has an answer for that too. Both Facebook, and in turn, Instagram have prioritized building “meaningful interactions” among users over the last year. IGTV is no exception. In a recent interview with Refinery29.com, Instagram co-creator, Mike Krieger explains: “a lot of the things that we’re doing research around is what feels like good time spent, versus what feels like meaningless time spent. The constant theme is around interaction and making sure that you close that loop.”
Community management, transparency and encouraging two-way conversations with your audiences should continue to be a priority for brands that are active on IGTV—and all social channels in 2018.
Time will tell what kind of impact IGTV will make, and how audiences will adapt to one more option in the social media mix—but based on the recent media buzz, many are already citing it as big competition for YouTube. I for one, am excited to see where it takes us.
Content Strategist, NATIONAL PR
A version of this post originally appeared on the NATIONAL Public Relations blog, an AVENIR GLOBAL company.