Your next favorite format: Instagram TV

We wouldn’t blame you for thinking that Instagram TV (IGTV) is irrelevant for the modern digital marketer—after its much-celebrated creation, barely anyone has been able to generate meaningful engagement through the app. Until now. Video views on IGTV are skyrocketing. Here’s what you need to know:

First, what even is Instagram TV?

IGTV is a standalone video application owned by Instagram that allows for longer videos compared to what’s possible with Instagram’s normal posts and stories. In addition to the standalone app, basic integration is also accessible within Instagram. 

Instagram TV’s creation was symptomatic of the times—people are watching less TV and more digital video. In fact, Instagram estimates that by 2021 mobile video will account for 78% of total mobile data traffic.

What are the benefits?

IGTV is mobile-first, meaning that it’s built for how phones are actually used—vertical and full screen. Its simple and intuitive set up starts playing as soon as the app is opened, and focuses on the accounts you love the most and already follow on Instagram.

The major benefit of Instagram TV is the ability to upload long videos. Anyone can publish videos between 15 seconds and 10 minutes, and large accounts (like National Geographic) are permitted videos of up to 60 minutes! This is a game changer when it comes to engagement; brands can now use long-form video for deeper, more meaningful storytelling.

IGTV preview post on @NatGeo

IGTV preview post on @NatGeo

What are the challenges?

Like we mentioned before, barely anyone used Instagram TV during its first 7 months. In a survey of 10.000 Instagrammers, Preview found that only 17,8% even watch IGTV. But this number is set to increase by a lot due to a recent change made by Instagram. Now, brands are able publish 1 minute IGTV video previews on Instagram, which users can then continue watching over on IGTV. This added integration has yielded groundbreaking results—accounts have seen their video views increase between 300 and 1.000% over just the last couple months. If you’re not already taking advantage of everything IGTV has to offer, you should start.

Some examples of international brands with a fully-fledged Instagram TV strategy.

Some examples of international brands with a fully-fledged Instagram TV strategy.

Now that we’ve established why every brand can benefit from Instagram TV, here are 5 things to consider while developing and publishing your next video:

1. Start By identifying added value

We now know why IGTV is useful for brands, but how will it provide added value for your brand specifically, beyond the value of normal posts and stories? Don’t start by focusing on how you can create the next viral video. Instead, ask “how can we utilize and benefit from long-form storytelling?” Most of paid social is focused on short, engaging content—this is different. Knowing your audience will steer you towards creating the kind of content they would be most interested in seeing.

2. Be strategic

Use your 1 minute preview wisely. The goal is to get your viewers to continue watching your video in IGTV. That means being strategic about your preview’s content—be engaging, but don’t give everything away right at the beginning.

3. Cover photos are more important than ever

IGTV video previews show up in your profile grid alongside your other content. Make sure you select a cover photo that matches your profile’s aesthetic—poorly selected photos will negatively impact the look and feel of your profile. 

4. Dimensions are key

What’s more, though IGTV requires a vertical (9:16) format, cover photos are cropped to 4:5 in the Instagram feed and 1:1 on your profile grid. It’s important to plan ahead and make sure that the focus of your cover photo is towards the center of the image to avoid anything important being cropped out.

5. Use the right title

When you’re uploading your IGTV video, the app will ask you for a title. Be careful! This isn’t just a title, it’s also the caption of your preview video in Instagram’s feed and on your profile.

We wish you all the best with IGTV—it’s definitely worth it!

Not sure how to get started? We’ve ran Instagram TV pilots for several brands and would be happy to help you, too! Connect with us here. For more social media updates, join our monthly newsletter here.