On June 2018, Instagram announced a huge addition to their platform: a brand new service under the moniker IGTV. The fresh video content vehicle allows creators to upload fullscreen, vertical videos up to one-hour in length.
IGTV marks Instagram’s entry into the long-form video space—this has huge implications for both mobile video creators and the influencer marketing industry.
IGTV is accessible through the most recent mobile version of Instagram, as well as a new standalone IGTV app. IGTV is not yet available through desktop browsers at Instagram.com.
To access IGTV through the Instagram app, tap the “TV” button in the top right corner next to the message icon. IGTV will immediately start playing in the top portion of the screen, while several navigation options will be featured below. The IGTV standalone app can be downloaded for Apple or Android phones.
It’s completely natural for the hottest mobile network to continue to expand their offerings. Lifted from Snapchat, Instagram’s Stories launch in 2016 was a huge bolster to the platform, pushing it past 1 billion users earlier this year. However, Instagram’s new IGTV service isn’t merely an attempt to seize upon a popular social feature — it’s a unique platform for an influx of new content.
Squarely aimed at YouTube’s market share of long-form videos, IGTV content offers two important distinctions:
IGTV’s mobile first strategy not only differentiates the app from competitor YouTube, it also gives Instagram key advantages in an increasingly mobile world.
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While available to all Instagram users, IGTV is custom-tailored for creators on the platform. For early adopters, IGTV is a prime opportunity for improving engagement with existing audiences, attracting new followers, expanding content offerings, and carving out new niches in the wild west of long-form vertical video. This is especially exciting for creators who’ve had difficulties breaking into YouTube’s hyper-competitive channel space.
Instagrammers who currently have a strong following also stand to benefit as the transition from their Instagram feed to IGTV will be simple and seamless for viewers. Moreover, IGTV’s casual, lightly edited (or raw) format taps into a content style that is already popular with audiences of both small and large creators.
Instagram has incredible reach and growth—the social network currently boasts over 1 billion users and a growth rate of 20% year-over-year. Even the online video juggernaut YouTube is concerned about Instagram’s potential to steal creators and audiences. As such, YouTube has been cutting six-figure checks to top YouTubers to buy their loyalty. The payments are meant to convince creators to post exclusively on YouTube, or post concurrently on IGTV and YouTube (as opposed to posting exclusively to IGTV).
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Today, Instagram’s increasing engagement among its widespread userbase means that creators have more ways to monetize their content than ever before. While Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom says that there are currently no ads on IGTV, the service is “obviously a very reasonable place [for ads] to end up.” In the meantime, there are several avenues for creators to generate revenue for themselves.
Currently, influencers produce sponsored content through their Instagram feed and Stories. IGTV’s longer format offers more opportunities for influencers to get creative with their marketing techniques to plug the brands, products, and services they partner with. Furthermore, IGTV’s integration with Instagram’s current network means that creators can use their feed, Stories, and DMs to market their IGTV content and channel. This consolidated presence on a single platform means no more “link in bio” descriptions or the need for viewers to hop platforms (or apps) to view longer form content.
Creators’ intrigue in IGTV might expand beyond content offerings and the ease of integration. Frustrated with YouTube’s recent demonetization policies, many influencers have started followings on other platforms, such as YouTube Gaming rival, Twitch. Other popular YouTubers are reportedly investing heavily in IGTV already, including online celebrity, Lele Pons. With more than 10 million subscribers on YouTube and over 25 million followers on Instagram, Pons new cooking show is being created specifically for IGTV.
As Instagram continues to offer a friendly space for influencers to create, partner with brands, and connect with audiences, we can expect more creators to make the transition to the new service. That said, whether IGTV’s long-form vertical videos will eat into YouTube’s domination of online video content remains to be seen.