How National Geographic, Warby Parker, and More are Already Optimizing IGTV

Instagram’s latest feature is aimed directly at digital natives—the generation of young people who didn’t grow up watching traditional television. To this cohort, a YouTube personality is just as compelling as the latest professionally produced series, and in fact, there’s ample evidence that digital natives prefer amateur videos to TV: "We've learned that younger audiences are spending more time with amateur content creators and less time with professionals," writes Instagram.

To capture the attention of people who’d prefer to watch their favorite social personality, Instagram launched a new stand-alone app (that’s also accessible from within the Instagram app home screen) at the end of June: IGTV.

Dive into what IGTV can do today, how it might evolve over time, and take inspiration from the brands and influencers that have already jumped into the new medium with both feet.

IGTV: The Basics

With mobile TV platform IGTV, Instagram creators and brands can publish full screen vertical videos up to an hour in length. The feature isn’t just available to big names—for now, everyone except smaller and new accounts can upload videos, writes TechCrunch, and soon every user will be able to post to IGTV.

Unlike the long-form content on Facebook Watch, IGTV isn’t designed for professionally developed TV series, for the time being—instead, writes Social Media Today, the Instagram creators themselves are the “channels.” When users follow a creator, that creator’s IGTV content will be available to them as a distinct channel. “The best comparison is probably Snapchat Discover,” writes Social Media Today, adding, “Instagram's push here seems more focused on creating a challenger for Snapchat’s shorter form publisher space.” Snapchat Discover was designed as a “complimentary TV viewing experience, which aligns more with fast-paced mobile consumption, and is more resonant with younger users.” It should be noted, though, that there are hints that IGTV will evolve to feature longer videos, and perhaps even series and re-runs in the future.

We also see similarities to YouTube. Like YouTube, IGTV creators are encouraged to publish unique content that they develop specifically for the platform and the personality of each creator is the focus. If IGTV plays its cards right, it could encourage large-scale migration away from YouTube, writes Forbes, particularly among YouTubers frustrated with recent changes to the platform.

IGTV creators are encouraged to publish unique content that they develop specifically for the platform.

 

So far there aren’t any ads on IGTV, and there isn’t a way for creators to directly monetize the medium, but several outlets report that Instagram is committed to helping their IGTV creators earn a living from the videos they post. As for how that’ll look, no one is sure yet. During Instagram’s IGTV launch event, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said that while there are no ads in IGTV today, the company believes it’s a “very reasonable place” for ads to end up, writes TechCrunch, and creators could see ad revenue shares in the future.

A First Look at IGTV Videos

Before launch, Instagram spent time recruiting creators and brands to IGTV and the result is that even though the feature is very new, there’s already some incredibly compelling content on the platform. Even though videos can be up to an hour, most videos on IGTV as of now are considerably shorter, and Instagram encourages posting videos that are about ten minutes in length.

The ideal length for video on IGTV? Instagram encourages users to aim for about ten minutes. — @jenniferashgoff

 

Brands are jumping right in, and we’re excited by what many of them are doing, like popular and digitally savvy eyeglasses brand Warby Parker. In IGTV, Warby Parker published videos of creative individuals #WearingWarby. In the series, people like writer Samantha Irby model their Warby Parker glasses, explain why they chose the pair they wear, and talk about their personal history with glasses. But the focus in each video is on the individual—their career, their personality—with the underlying message that Warby Parker glasses are a valuable asset fascinating folks rely on in their creative work.

National Geographic has already taken full advantage of the increased video length: they posted a 47-minute video titled “One Strange Rock: Home.” The video explores the idea of home with NASA’s most experienced astronaut Peggy Whitson, with narration by Will Smith.

Individual creators who were publishing to Stories are migrating to IGTV, like cookbook author Christina Lane, @dessertfortwo on Instagram:

With her five-minute crepe tutorial, Lane takes full advantage of IGTV’s video capabilities. Instead of the 15 second bursts of video that highlight a recipe (like she posted in Stories), creators like Lane can now offer their audiences complete pieces of content with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Netflix took full advantage of cultural momentum and IGTV’s expansive one-hour allotment by turning the super-popular one-minute video of Riverdale star Cole Sprouse eating a hamburger into a one-hour film of the young star doing the same—shortly after posting, the video had already earned more than 200,000 views.

Instagram began, of course, as a photo-sharing app, but as Social Media Today notes, video has taken over more and more Instagram real estate lately, and more importantly, video generates the most engagement from users. IGTV is still in its early stages, but we’re excited to see what creators and brands alike do with it, and how it’ll evolve.

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As a digital marketer, Jennifer Goff spends her days amplifying the Spredfast brand and building meaningful connections with our community.