IGTV or IDGI (I Don’t Get It)?!

What is IGTV and why is it here?

Boasting 1 billion monthly users, Instagram has released a new platform into its social media weaponry to tackle competition from the likes of Snapchat and Facebook. IGTV is their latest offering, sitting somewhere between YouTube and Snapchat, it “begins a new chapter of video on Instagram”, says Co-Founder & CEO Kevin Systrom, built for how users actually use their phones; in a vertical, full screen format for brands to captivate consumers further than #linkinbio.

Although facing early technical difficulties, IGTV has had a positive reaction from content creators and critics alike, keen to create their own channel of branded content. So why is it here? Well, figures show that audiences are watching less TV and more digital video; in fact, by 2021, an estimated 78% of mobile data traffic will account for video content. Therefore, a seemingly natural evolution, IGTV gives brands the ability to really sell themselves through deeper storytelling which inspires, educates and entertains their consumers for more meaningful connections through the appeal of social video content. Channel creators will then be able to create conversions by driving traffic to their other social channels, online stores or websites.


How does IGTV differ to normal Instagram videos?

Previously limited to 1 minute videos incorporated within the feed, IGTV now allows creators to publish long-form videos up to 60 minutes in length, with plans to extend this to unlimited capabilities, all contained within a handy tab at the top of the newsfeed or a separate app. Vertical, 9:16 frame videos start playing automatically when a user opens IGTV, “just like turning on the TV”, says Systrom, meaning users can immediately watch relevant content from their favourite creators and brands. Just like normal short-form videos in the feed, users can still comment, like and share with others, but also benefit from personal video and channel suggests based on their interests within the platform.

One challenge emerges from IGTV for content creators, however, due to the constraints of the 9:16 frame format, restricting old content from being recycled, especially when aiming to keep audiences engaged with long-form videos in portrait mode, meaning production of high quality, original content will be a must for successful brand channels. If produced to standard, IGTV functionalities will give brands the ability to cultivate an identity which connects with their audience in a deeper, user-friendly way compared to currently Instagram videos.


What does IGTV mean for marketers and content creators?

“This is an exciting opportunity for you to get closer to your fans, explore your creativity, grow your audience, and build your brand”, says Instagram, which has already trained 400 million daily users to film and watch vertical videos through Instagram Stories launched in 2016. The social media audiences’ appetite for vertical videos suggests power potential for brands using IGTV, with Snapchat’s Discover feed shows raking in 20 to 30 million views per month. However, IGTV forms a potentially formidable threats to the likes of YouTube and Snapchat, which sank to its slowest ever user growth rate in Q1 with a 40% decrease in average unique viewers per story, meaning brands may also suffer loses in engagement if they don’t utilise the new platform. Publishers were already reaching high five-figure views in IGTV’s first week, with Vogue’s Kylie Jenner “Beauty Secrets” video receiving a quarter million.

Whilst these figures seem promising, this doesn’t suggest an easy ride for brands to simply transition existing concepts over to IGTV to reach a mass audience. Due to Instagram’s training of its audience, a new vertical eye will require brands to create tailored, alluring content in a vertical, 9:16 format for success on the platform, in order to utilise its unique potentials and avoid repetition. Having faith to focusing investments of time and money on generating high quality social videos will help IGTV channels push brand identity and consumer engagement. 

“UNILAD have created and established new formats that sit on IGTV such as “On The Buffer” that is a great format that captures the UNILAD Instagram page perfectly- trending, funny, viral content!” – Lucy Furlong, Social Media Platforms Manager


How do I maximise the effect of IGTV on my business? 

The need for original, tailored and gratifying video content to enthuse audiences in a 9:16 format is clear for IGTV success, however a demand on resources may force some brands to fall into the trap of regurgitating old, unformatted content onto the new platform.

Informed insights on audience viewing habits however lead to creative ideas, helping us emphasise connected branding and drive engagement, such as UNILAD Sound’s own series “Sound Sauce” or UNILAD Grub series “Snack Hacks”.

“IGTV has allowed UNILAD to create original long-form content specifically for our audience. Not only can we use Instagram as tool to put out our viral content, but now we are able to showcase our highly engaged long-form original formats we are creating for our Original documentaries and Branded work.

This is an opportunity for brands to create content with us that will sit at the top of our Instagram feed for a longer length of time, as currently stories disappear after 24 hours and posts get pushed lower down the feed. Brands can create higher quality content that can engage our Instagram audience for a longer amount of time..” – Charlie Martin, Creative Lead

Amy De Robillard

Marketing Intern