One of the biggest buzzwords in social media marketing these days is ephemeral content. Snapchat, Vine, and Instagram Stories are all examples of visual content that disappears after a set period of time. While Instagram has basically cornered the ephemeral content market with Instagram Stories, they’ve recently branched out into longer form persistent videos in the form of IGTV. Effectively, IGTV is trying to position itself as the future of long-form content consumption—YouTube for Generation Z.
It’s proven pretty effective so far, with celebrities such as Serena Williams and Will Smith posting their own videos regularly. Even big brands have gotten in on the action. Netflix, in particular, made the most out of IGTV’s video length limits by posting a 1-hour video of Cole Sprouse eating a hamburger. A million views for that kind of effort is absolute gold.
How does it work? The interface is barebones, but that seems to be by design—Instagram wanted something they described as “simple and intimate.” Once IGTV is opened, either through the small TV icon in Instagram or through the IGTV app itself, a video will start playing immediately (just like, you guessed it, an old-school TV set).
How to create your account and channel
Each IGTV account is connected to a corresponding Instagram account. If you’ve already got an Instagram account, you’re all set. One thing to keep in mind: your Instagram page followers automatically become your IGTV followers if they use IGTV. So it’s best to lay the groundwork with your main page by growing your Instagram following first.
Each IGTV account can create a channel to which the account can post videos. Each video can be up to ten minutes long for normal accounts and an hour long for bigger, verified accounts.
Once you’re in IGTV, creating a channel is as simple as clicking on the gear button on the right and hitting the Create Channel button.
Go through the prompts and that’s it, your channel has been created.
Uploading your videos
Getting your killer content out there on IGTV is actually pretty easy—just click on the plus sign on the right once you’re in your IGTV profile and the video picker comes up. The thing to remember is that IGTV is built from the ground up with vertical video in mind, so turning your video sideways will just mean your audience will be taken out of the experience. It’s also possible to post content from a computer through the Instagram website, so longer files—if Instagram allows you a full 60 minutes—are easy to accommodate.
You’re going to have to take your videos with your built-in phone camera or standalone camera and upload through the Instagram website, so spur-of-the-moment posting isn’t as easy as with Instagram Stories. This just emphasizes the fact that a little more production value is expected for this kind of long-form content. Once you’ve chosen your video, you can add a short title and description, and choose a thumbnail.
There currently doesn’t exist any kind of playlist functionality within IGTV, so you’re counting on your followers to navigate toward your channel and browse all of your content. In light of that, your videos have to be good enough that if a person simply chooses one at random, it will keep them entertained and coming back for more.
With this in mind, what’s really important is being judicious about the type of content you’ll be posting on your IGTV account. Like anything else, IGTV is simply a tool that you use to spread a message. The kind of videos you post will drastically affect how your followers receive that message. Leave the gifs and memes for Instagram Stories—people expect something more professional-looking on IGTV.
Take the teaching route
Product videos are good, as are tutorials—people love to learn. This is also the kind of content that keeps people coming back to your channel, especially once you prove to them that you create consistently compelling and educational videos on a regular basis. This is great to differentiate yourself from the rest of the competition. If you can hit the right balance of entertaining and educational and become subject matter leaders in your field, there becomes little reason to go to other channels with the same kind of content.
Give your brand some personality
Other great types of videos to put up are Q&A sessions, meet-the-team videos, and sneak peeks at upcoming products or content. The ratio of effort to benefit for these videos is fantastic—and it helps give a face to your brand. Ephemeral content consumers become twice as likely as the average person to advocate a brand if they have a personal relationship with a brand. The same goes for having insider knowledge and getting access to exclusive content or even services. In a nutshell, letting people feel special and valued by letting them see “behind the curtain” makes them brand ambassadors.
People want to get to know you
For individual content creators and influencers, a day-in-the-life style video can give context for the message you’re trying to send as well as the amount of effort you really put into your work. Both of those are great for people to see! Jayden Bartels (@missjaydenb), an aspiring actress and dancer, does exactly this—her Q&A and behind-the-scenes videos on IGTV get hundreds of thousands of views as well as thousands of comments. It’s also interesting to note that her shorter IGTV videos that would be more suited to being on Instagram Stories end up not having nearly as many hits as her 5+ minute videos and tutorials.
In its current state, IGTV is still a fledgling in the realm of video content—especially considering the massive success of Instagram Stories. However, that just means that getting on it and becoming experts in producing long-form vertical video content now will pay dividends when it eventually explodes in popularity. We can liken it to the first days of streaming video on the internet when nobody had any idea how big it would get. While others are content to simply use IGTV as a jumping board to their YouTube accounts, producing good content specifically for IGTV’s unique format is, overall, the smarter choice, even considering the effort required. Our recommendation is to go ahead and become vertical video masters while it’s early.
Natasha Ponomaroff is the Senior Marketing Director of Instasize – a content creating tool kit for anyone editing photos and online content on mobile. A weekly contributor on the site’s blog, Natasha tracks social media trends and updates the millions of “creatives” who are currently using Instasize to curate awesome online content. When she isn’t writing up the latest trend, Natasha is overseeing a team of 10 over at the Instasize HQ – ensuring that the marketing content on the apps various social platforms is ready to go.