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Instagram's IGTV: The Ultimate Guide

This morning Digital Marketing enthusiasts and content creators alike awoke to a pleasant surprise - Instagram has finally joined the world of video by launching IGTV, or Instagram TV. Already, it is being dubbed "the next YouTube". 

But what is IGTV? How do you use IGTV? How does IGTV effect your business? And will it really be the next YouTube? 

Let's take a look!

What is IGTV?

IGTV was launched on June 21, 2018 and is Instagram's video platform. IGTV has fixed some key UX issues and limitations to Instagram video content. 

The new Instagram video feature allows users to upload vertical videos up to an hour in length, and provides a dedicated space in the top right corner where users can search and watch IGTV content. 

Eventually, Instagram plans for there to be no time limit on IGTV video uploads, although at this stage some accounts have a 10 minute limit. 

The massive benefit to IGTV, is that it will have over a billion users from day one, as all users can now upload videos. 

Why did instagram create IGTV?

Despite their quick rise to world domination over the past 5 years, Instagram's video functionality has lacked the basic key features required for users to take them seriously as a video platform. 

Since being acquired by Facebook in 2012 and releasing  support for 15 second videos in 2013, Instagram has quickly become the place to be for content creators and influencers thanks to the visual nature of the platform. 

In 2017 Instagram also launched their snapchat-like stories feature, causing a further boom in ephemeral content. Then came the support for videos up to 60 seconds in length.

Some of the UX issues included not being able to upload videos more than 60 seconds in length, not being able to skip to various parts of the video with a time bar, not being able to start the video from the beginning, and a lack of captions support when the platform's users watch without sound more than 85% of the time.

With YouTube currently sitting comfortably as the world's second largest search engine, second only to its parent search engine Google, Facebook has wanted to take a piece of that pie for some time. 

While Facebook have aimed to achieve this largely through their main Facebook platform, IGTV will allow them to access another part of the search engine pie while securing even more engagement. It will also, eventually, allow its content creators and influencers another revenue stream as IGTV eventually plan to monetise the platform in a similar way to YouTube.

The battle between Facebook (e.g. Instagram) and Google continues...

how does igtv work?

IGTV is more like YouTube than Netflix (after all, that's what Facebook Watch is for). 

Any user can have an IGTV "channel" and upload portrait style videos - similar to the stories feature which Instagram has already trained us to use in portrait mode. 

If you do upload videos in traditional wide screen or horizontal mode, you will receive a blurred filler background at the tops and bottom. 

When you open the IGTV stand alone app or the feature within Instagram, video content will begin playing right away. Users are able to like or comment on the video, similar to how they would interact with a video on Facebook or in the Instagram news feed currently.

To skip a video in IGTV, users simply swipe to left or right - again, which they're already trained to do to swipe next in Instagram Stories (or Tinder). 

With a simple swipe up, users can search for videos by keyword or category. Instagram's algorithm is likely to prioritise content from influencers or friends who you already give signals to Instagram that you are interested in - for example, if you comment, DM, like, or view content from other users already then you're more likely to see more of that users content and similar content in IGTV. 

how do i advertise on igtv?

There is no way to advertise on IGTV - yet. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said in the launch event that, for now, they are focusing on building engagement and ensuring a great user experience.

How 100% of digital marketers currently feel about this situation... Give it time, though!

How do i create an igtv channel?

Step 1: Navigate to the IGTV icon on the top left-hand corner of your Instagram feed after you have signed in.

Step 2: Click the "gear" icon.

Step 3: Click "Create channel" and click "Next" until you see a "Create channel" button again to click on.

Step 4: You're all set! Click on your profile icon to view you channel and start uploading!

Some people have asked whether you can have multiple IGTV channels but the answer is no, as IGTV channels are linked to your Instagram account.

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our thoughts on igtv

It's an exciting new addition to the ever-growing world of digital video, and as always we've got a few early predictions and opinions to share!

  • The easy "swipe right to skip the video" feature could make it hard to hold the attention of viewers. We've run many of tests in the Instagram story organic videos and sponsored Instagram stories area, and it's clear that people move fast in the Instagram video ecosystem. Our major concern with IGTV is that people can too easily swipe to the next video, and their attention will be easily lost.
  • Instagram will definitely monetise IGTV with ads, like we've seen with Instagram stories and Facebook videos. Ads that interrupt the video experience of longer form videos, like they do with Facebook videos, will once again make it difficult to maintain engagement through an interruptive advertisement. 
  • Influencers will of course love this new IGTV feature as it provides another opportunity for revenue. While Instagram's CEO has indicated they will eventually allow channels to monetise their views (similar to YouTube's model), in the short term they will still be able to earn money from brands who pay for product placements. 
  • Brands will be able to capitalise on influencers even more than they already are, thanks to IGTV making videos easier and better to consume on Instagram
  • Analytics should develop to the same level that we see for YouTube eventually. However, this may not happen in a hurry considering Instagram's business account analytics are still very much lacking in functionality compared to Facebook page insights 

Want to know more about IGTV?

If you want to know more about IGTV, check back regularly! We'll continue to update you here, on our Devote Digital Marketing Podcast, Facebook and Instagram