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Is IGTV the Next Big Thing?

I teach Digital Marketing Strategy at the University of Tennessee. I was preparing my slides Tuesday for our lecture and discussion about Instagram. By the time I had given my lecture on Thursday, the content in my presentation was out of date. How could a platform change so dramatically that in two days my notes were out of date? IGTV, that’s how.

IGTV is for “watching long-form videos from your favorite creators,” according to CEO Kevin Systrom, and is being built to rival Snapchat and YouTube by combining long-form video content with a user-friendly platform. IGTV is being created to function like mobile television. Most video apps require you to search or browse a directory (YouTube, Netflix, etc.). But too often we scroll and scroll and scroll (and scroll and scroll) only to watch that same Game of Thrones episode (“The Battle of the Bastards” is GREAT TV) or to re-watch The Office or Gilmore Girls.

The IGTV videos make more sense for mobile; you don’t have to twist your phone or turn portrait setting off to see them in full screen. They’re more approachable since people already record their Instagram stories vertically and understand the format. It encourages the use of phones for content creation, making content creation accessible to those who don’t have expensive DSLRs or standalone video cameras.

But why now? Why long-form content? Well, YouTube has 1.8 billion monthly users. Instagram now has 1 billion accounts. However, YouTube covers 85% of the 13-17-year-old market, to Instagram’s less inspiring, but still impressive 72%. Hubspot’s research indicates that 45% of people watch an hour or more of video per day, an impressive stat considering how many people have cut the cords from their cable. 45% of millennials also prefer to watch video on their mobile device, rather than a laptop or desktop computer.

The format now means videos can be 10 minutes long and up to an hour for larger, influencer accounts. Long-term, the company anticipates letting all users post videos of unlimited (or at least very long) length. You can watch them in Instagram, in the standalone IGTV app, or on someone’s Instagram profile. You can also like, comment, and interact with videos you’re watching, similar to Facebook Live and Instagram Live.

Tabs include “For You,” “Following,” “Popular,” and “Continue Watching.” All of these are pretty self-explanatory, but it allows the interface to choose for you, let you see what you like, and see what’s popular.

As of right now (in 2018), there are no ads in IGTV. But, as a marketer, I’d be SHOCKED if they didn’t end up with some form of advertising or a premium version of the app with a paid price and no ads (like Spotify and YouTube).

So, what does this mean for marketers and social media pros? You probably want to start testing your video formats. Start creating baselines on your YouTube videos, Facebook Live videos, and Instagram Stories. To get a strong understanding of whether this makes sense for you, you have to know how your existing content is performing. Then start dabbling in your IGTV content and compare the results. If the results don’t outweigh the efforts, don’t bother! If the results are good, proceed.

Some things to look for as you review your IGTV metrics:

  • View your insights to view likes, views, and comments. How do these compare to your other traffic sources? Are there enough people on IGTV to get quality metrics? Do they change over time? Once they view, what are the chances of conversion?
  • Bear in mind, a view is constituted by a user watching at least 3 seconds of your video. 3 seconds is not enough for conversion or strong customer value, so focus also on the Audience Retention rate, which is how many people watch your video to the end. You can also see a drop-off graphic of when people are swiping away from your video.

I see significant potential in this in industries that naturally perform logically in the influencer industries. Fashion shows and styling shows for brands, how-to videos for beauty and makeup, cooking shows for food bloggers, decor tips and DIY projects for designers and decorators, and then fitness classes for the fitness influencer set.

The possibilities are pretty limitless when it comes down to it, so what do you think? Are you going to dive into the brave new world of IGTV and start creating highly visual content? If so, what’s your first show going to be about?