Of course, when IGTV launched at the end of June, it came to big fan fare. There were "leaks" about the feature before it was officially launched by Instagram and then it was touted in a massive production by Facebook/Instagram.
As with many new features, everyone jumped eagerly onto the bandwagon and flooded the platform with new videos (most of which weren't exactly great...). For days (maybe even weeks), businesses created new content, edited old content for upload to IGTV, and aimed to build a channel for their brand. A month later, momentum has, of course, slowed. Which brings people to ask me frequently what I think about the long term success of IGTV.
Let me be clear. Facebook (which owns Instagram) doesn't do anything half-ass. If they invested this much into IGTV, I can promise you they will continue to build this platform to some level of success. Now, there are numerous things that need to improve and integrate more effectively for that to happen (I'll talk more about features in a minute) but, yes, IGTV will continue to grow and gain traction.
If we need a reminder, look at Instagram Stories. They launched to major fanfare as well. Then plummeted in popularity before soaring to the level of engagement and creation that we see today. Will IGTV have the same growth and traction? I honestly don't know. But it's way too early to write this feature off!
How Does IGTV Work?
Here are some of the basics you need to know about IGTV.
- IGTV is actually really desktop friendly (which is highly uncommon for Instagram features). In fact, videos over 10 minutes can only be uploaded via the desktop site, so if you do long form video, you'll get really comfortable with the desktop site for IGTV.
- You can create your channel by using the desktop or the mobile app. On mobile, you will need to download the separate IGTV app in order to set up your channel. You'll log in with your Instagram account, thereby connecting the two immediately, importing your Instagram bio and details into your IGTV channel. Easy peasy!
- Anyone who is following your Instagram account is automatically following your IGTV channel. And no, they can't follow one and not the other - they're a package deal.
- Videos on IGTV must be between 15 seconds and 60 minutes. Videos that are 15 seconds to 10 minutes in length can be uploaded via the mobile app. Notice that videos have to be more than 15 seconds - which means, no you can't just upload your Instagram Story videos to your IGTV channel. Instagram is forcing you into creating fresh new content for the channel.
- Videos must be portrait or vertical orientation. 9:16 is the best ratio but you can get down to a 3:4 ratio though you may see some cropping at that format.
- You can give every video a title and description. However, you can only edit these fields after uploading the video by using the desktop version of IGTV.
- IGTV videos auto play in the app. When someone accesses their IGTV feed (from the IGTV icon in the regular Instagram app or from the IGTV app), the videos of those they follow as well as recommended videos will start playing immediately and move right into the next one on the list.
- Notifications for your IGTV videos (likes, comments) will appear in your normal Instagram notifications tab. If you have a popular video or a lot of engagement on your Instagram content, you run the risk of missing these notifications (Instagram caps the number of notifications you can see in the tab), so make sure you're checking in regularly for notifications.
- Insights for videos are available by tapping on the 3-dot button for any video on your channel. You can view engagement and retention information to really understand what is performing on your channel.
Top Tips for IGTV Success
The basics of the IGTV videos and your channel are the same for everyone. But how you choose to create the content and use various features will determine how successful your channel really is. Here are some of my fave tips for driving success with IGTV.
As mentioned above, Instagram is essentially forcing you into creating fresh new content for IGTV. Don't simply repurpose old videos into your IGTV channel.
Create appealing titles that invite users to watch. But more importantly, realize that your title will get truncated at around 20-25 characters on the thumbnail image in your channel. So make those first few words of your title the most intriguing and give reason to watch.
Wanna drive traffic? IGTV allows you to put clickable links in your video description! Yup, you can post any link in there and drive traffic to any website of your choosing. Here's the thing though, your viewers probably don't know that there's a link there to click. So make sure you include a call-to-action IN your video to tell them to tap on the description and click on the link. This will drastically increase conversions.
A secret success tip is to add hashtags to your video description. Like Instagram posts, you can add up to 30 hashtags in your description - which means your IGTV video will actually appear in regular hashtag searches. If you want to get found by new people and grow your channel, this is a tactic you must employ.
Edit your cover photo to find the most appealing one or upload an image you previously crafted for the cover. Find the best frame of the video and select that one, since we know most thumbnail images are usually when we're making the worst face imaginable. Or, brand your videos and content by creating cover images for upload on each video.
Because the videos auto play, avoid loud or distracting starts to your video. If your video starts blasting music or annoying content you're likely to get tapped through and not have your video watched.
Retention rates aren't super high on most videos so make sure you have CTAs and other pertinent information early in your video otherwise you run the risk of people not seeing them.
It's important to create consistent content in your videos because there's no way to organize all your different videos into categories. If someone finds one of your videos or comes across your channel, they will expect your content to be consistent. If you have a tutorial video that they find but then your next few videos in the channel are all goofy behind the scenes content, you may lose them as a viewer. Be selective in your content strategy and create consistent content that most appeals to your target audience.
As I discussed above, IGTV is in a plateau right now and people are questioning its value. My best recommendation is to take the time to upload video content now. Start with even one video so that you have a channel. Then create content as often as you can. This may be once a month - that's ok. Just get content on there consistently so that you can start to build a foundation and an audience. Eventually, there will be more users, more options for ad spend or revenue generation, and the platform will get more saturated. If you wait until then to take this seriously, you'll be playing catch up like everyone else. But if you start now, and build that loyalty and expectation with your audience, you'll be miles ahead of everyone else.
Hopefully you'll find fun and creative ways to create content for IGTV that will help you grow your business with Instagram!