IGTV was supposed to challenge YouTube’s long-form video dominance and offer a new creative outlet for influencers and new PR and marketing venue for brands. But it has struggled to attract viewers and quality content since Instagram launched the long-form video hub to substantial fanfare a year ago.
Meanwhile, popularity of short-form video app TikTok is expanding rapidly, and SnapChat Discover features multi-media magazines, themed video collections and mobile TV shows.
A New Look for IGTV
Instagram hopes to re-energize IGTV with a re-design — or at least by copying competitors. It replaced its horizontal scrolling design with a vertically scrolling design, explains Josh Constine at TechCrunch. It looks remarkably like a Snapchat Discover feed.
IGTV, which exists inside a home screen button in Instagram and as a standalone app, also eliminated its category-based tabs like “Following” and “Popular” and adopted one central feed of algorithmically suggested videos. It’s very similar to TikTok.
The problem, Constine says, is that TikTok’s one-at-a-time feed works well for punchy, short videos that quickly grab attention. Its users, mostly teen-agers simply swipe to the next clip when bored. Long-form videos, IGTV’s supposed forte of long-form videos might not grab attention quickly. And Snapchat works with professional publishers who create compelling cover thumbnail images to promote their content and gain viewers. IGTV works with independent creators who might not make such captivating cover images
“A Huge Opportunity for Marketers”
Michael Stelzner, founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner, feels more upbeat about IGTV. IGTV remains a highly viable product and potentially offers a huge opportunity for marketers and creators, Stelzner asserts. “Building a library of videos formatted specifically for IGTV opens a wide door to get more viewership, go deeper with an audience, and provide more value,” he says.
Verified or business accounts with more than 10,000 followers can broadcast for up to 60 minutes, but the typical IGTV video is 15 seconds to 10 minutes long. Also, users can watch up to 60 seconds of a video preview within the Instagram main fed and then click to watch the rest of the video in IGTV. Compelling video teasers, therefore, become essential to attract large audiences for longer-form videos for IGTV. Captivating openings are crucial to hook the audience for shorter videos.
Videos that are 3–5 minutes long perform best among Instagram audiences, Instagram marketing expert Jasmine Star told Stelzner in his podcast.
IGTV’s full 16:9 ratio takes up the entire length of your screen, which limits distractions and immerses viewers in the video. Jasmine recommends filming in a way that can easily be cropped into a vertical format (actually quite difficult to do well) or used as a B-roll to create something fun and visually appealing. To succeed on IGTV, a long-form video needs to meet high creative and technical standards. A static “talking head” pontificating in front of a camera has no place on IGTV. Neither do shaky camera visuals.
The challenge is to keep your ideal customers engaged in a social media space where they’re used to being highly inattentive and constantly pulled away. High- level production values, aesthetics and storytelling are vital. Videos that promote some form of conversion can then be measured for return on investment.
Bottom Line: Instagram hopes an overhaul of IGTV, its long-form video app, will draw users and creators. While some social media influencers and marketing experts praise IGTV as a powerful PR and marketing tool, many observers remain uncertain of its prospects.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.