• The social media landscape has now become the modern-day wild west. Social media platforms once had distinct user bases and product features, however, now with the universal “pivot to video,” platforms are looking identical and vying for the same users, viewers, and ad dollars.

    It’s been almost two years since Instagram copied Snapchat Stories to bring about their own version of ephemeral content storytelling. Instagram was highly successful in this endeavor and  effectively captured Snapchat’s market share. Now, Instagram is taking on YouTube by bringing long-form video content to the platform with Instagram TV (IGTV).

    This strategy only adds to Facebook’s continued focus on video across their product suite. “We see a world where video is first, with video at the heart of all of our apps and services,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said nearly two years ago.

    The launch of IGTV also reflects viewership shifting increasingly to mobile from television. Cord cutting among Millennials and Gen Z remains strong, Instagram has achieved incredible growth with one billion users, and eMarketer expects Instagram to earn $5.48 billion in U.S. ad revenue this year.

     

    What is IGTV?

     

    IGTV is full-screen, vertical video content shared on Instagram which can be up to an hour long. In line with Instagram’s focus on discoverability, you can easily watch content from your community and find what’s popular. Similar to the actions on the Instagram feed, you can also like, comment, and direct message videos to friends.

    With that in mind, creators and brands alike can capitalize on this new visual medium to connect with their communities and expand their audience reach.

    Instagram’s intent with this video strategy is to encourage users to publish long-form content on Instagram, giving them three distinct options to connect with their communities over one platform: photos, stories, and longer videos. To drive home this point, the platform invited some of the biggest influencers to the IGTV launch event—Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez, Jiffpom, LaurDIY, King Bach, and others—to share their first videos.

    Influencer Mike Platco, who started TenFifteen Creative, a vertical storytelling creative studio, and currently manages all Instagram and Snapchat content for Freeform (formerly ABC Family), shares his take: “IGTV is the platform that vertical video creators have been hoping for ever since we started making Snapchat and Instagram Stories. It allows our longer-form content to be viewed the way that we’ve always wanted it—as a high-quality experience with no rough edits.

    “I’m not giving up on Snapchat or even Instagram Stories because each one of those platforms has unique elements such as stickers, polls, GIFs, and other elements that can enhance our ability to tell an interactive story. For that reason and others, those platforms are still big priorities for brands to be active on. However, over the course of these past five years where I’ve been making daily Snapchat and Instagram Stories, I’ve become passionate about longer form video creation and storytelling, so IGTV is very much a breath of fresh air.”

    Why IGTV?

     

    As video consumption heightens across social media platforms, Instagram is investing in all forms of vertical video content. In the case of Stories, Instagram promotes capturing authentic, behind-the-scenes vertical video content with Stop-Motion, Superzoom, and Boomerang. However, these disappear after 24 hours. With IGTV, Instagram can provide an outlet for brands, creators, and users to invest their time in long-form vertical video content; ultimately, building their user-base on Instagram instead of competitor platforms like YouTube or Twitch. Although acquired by Facebook, if Instagram were a standalone app it would be valued at $100 billion dollars. Thus, IGTV provides another avenue for advertising revenue in the future as more consumers use the feature.

    Nick Cicero, founder of social analytics startup, Delmondo, analyzed over 800 Instagram Story accounts from leading brands, publishers, and influencers. He found that longer vertical viewing is a smart move for Instagram and Facebook. “We saw only a 10% decrease in completion rate when you compare Stories under 10 frames long to Stories double that length. This is a key indicator that when people are engaged with vertical content, they’ll stick around. Twenty frames on Instagram Stories could be up to five minutes long, so there is importance in creating a destination for viewing longer vertical video. Additionally, our customers also have increasingly used the Highlights feature to showcase their best vertical video content beyond the initial 24 hours to gain additional viewership.”

    What does IGTV mean for marketers?

     

    IGTV presents another opportunity for brands to expand their audiences and deepen relationships with current followers. Here are three ways marketers can optimize their long-form vertical video strategy for IGTV:

    1) Excite from the start

    You only have a few seconds to captivate an audience. With that in mind, start your video off with a bang. You can add an engaging, branded introduction to your video content as Louis Vuitton has by using a drone shot of Paris Fashion Week as its cover photo. This way, users will know that they’re going to watch something that’ll pique their interest. There is so much content on social media, and the use of long-form content will be a new concept to many. Make sure to put in the effort so that users don’t swipe next.

    2)  Craft polished content

    Instagram focused on influencers at launch because they understand how to create content that keeps audiences glued to their screens. Watch the videos from creators who align with your brand’s look and feel. They know how to produce vertical video using tools like Final Cut Pro and iMovie. They’ve been doing this for years and know which video content converts.

    Platco notes, “You can’t actually create anything natively within IGTV—it’s just a place for externally produced content to exist. If your team is looking to learn how to make vertical video content, I’d say the best place to start is still Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Once you’ve cut your teeth there, move on to using all those amazing apps available on iOS and Android devices to start filming and editing for IGTV.”

    3) Use existing high-quality content

    With IGTV, you have another channel to execute content on. Take advantage by simply uploading your existing library of beautifully produced videos that can now find a new audience.

    Additionally, you can find internal advocates who want to produce content for IGTV. “Find the Snapchat and Instagram advocates on your team and give them the reins to test things out,” Platco suggests. “These platforms have always been about finding power users and advocates to lead the charge in content production.” The more high-quality content you produce, the more you’ll connect with your users and foster greater brand awareness. If you want users to learn more, they can do so with the link that’s included with your content.

    No one can predict what will happen next with social media. But by following trends in video creation and testing out what works for your brand, you can stay ahead of your competition and retain your audience’s attention and loyalty.

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