The Ultimate Guide to IGTV: Basics, Best Practices, and Content Ideas
Unsure how to get started with Instagram’s IGTV? Wondering if IGTV is worth your company’s time and effort? Looking for IGTV tips and content ideas to get started? You’re not alone, and we’re here to help!
What is Instagram TV?
Instagram launched Instagram TV (more commonly known as IGTV) in June 2018 in response to the increasingly growing consumption of online video content.
IGTV allows Instagram users to create and post long-form video content up to 60 minutes in length. IGTV is available as both a standalone app and a feature within the Instagram platform.
While IGTV was likely inspired by the success of YouTube, IGTV is unique because it is formatted specifically for mobile use. Unlike Youtube, IGTV videos were initially designed for vertical, full-screen viewing (the same way you would typically hold a smartphone in your hand). However, horizontal videos are now supported as well.
Anyone with an Instagram account can create an IGTV channel. Users can post IGTV videos up to 15 minutes long via a mobile device on the Instagram app or the standalone IGTV app, or up to 60 minutes long via the web. Users can view IGTV videos on the IGTV app, on the Instagram Explore page, on the IGTV Explore page, and in their regular feed.
Is IGTV Worth Your Time?
Short answer: Probably! But let’s tackle the bad news first…
The Bad News
In the first 18 months since IGTV was launched, only 1% of Instagram users downloaded the standalone IGTV app (TechCrunch). Initially, IGTV videos were also receiving relatively low views, resulting in many creators and brands to abandon their IGTV channels.
But things have changed…
The Good News
Though IGTV views were initially low, Instagram’s update allowing users to post IGTV previews to the regular Instagram feed and to share IGTV previews on their Instagram profiles resulted in IGTV video views to skyrocket, increasing by ~300-1000% (Later)!
There’s also no denying the fact that online video content is king. Online video is proven to be one of the most effective and popular forms of content.
Here are a few quick stats from HubSpot that are sure to get you motivated to incorporate more video content into your social strategy:
- Marketers that use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users
- 1 in 4 consumers lose interest in a company if it doesn’t use video on its social media
- 6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to live TV
All in all, the increasing popularity of both online video content in general and IGTV specifically make a great case for you to experiment with IGTV video content in your content strategy.
IGTV vs Instagram Reels
A recent Instagram update has introduced a new video-sharing feature to the platform. Instagram Reels allow Instagram users to create and share 15-second multi-clip videos with new music clips, effects, and creative tools.
Sound familiar? While IGTV is reminiscent of YouTube in terms of the video length parameters and focuses on amateur long-form video production, Instagram Reels are often considered to be a copycat of TikTok.
Both Reels and IGTV videos are discoverable via the regular Instagram Explore page and both have their own separate Explore pages as well.
On August 6, 2020, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that will ban TikTok in the US if the app is not sold by its Chinese owned parent company (CNN). With the uncertainty surrounding the future of TikTok in the US, Reels could eventually fill this void for short-form, snackable content. Even if the app is not banned in the US, reels also introduce a TikTok-like experience to those who do not feel like their demographic or interests are represented on the TikTok platform.
At this point, we believe that IGTV is still a safer bet for your company’s first investment in online video production. IGTV is currently more established than Instagram Reels and IGTV poses unique advantages that your brand can leverage in your social strategy.
4x larger real estate on the Explore Page
On the regular Instagram Explore page, video content appears 4x larger than photo posts. This includes IGTV videos and regular videos posted to your Instagram profile. On the other hand, Instagram Reels only appear 2x larger than photo posts.
The greater the size of your post, the higher the likelihood of it piquing the interest of users scrolling by. Users will be more likely to click on your content and learn more about your brand if it takes up more space on their screen.
The ability to make video series
A unique feature of IGTV is the ability to upload videos as part of a series. This allows you to group similar content and encourages users to follow your brand. If they enjoyed your content and want to continue to see similar content in the future, they are encouraged to follow and join your community. As a result, you are building brand awareness and brand loyalty.
The ability to add links
Unlike regular Instagram posts where you are unable to add links to your captions, IGTV allows you to put a link in your description. This is huge for brands because this allows you to link to the product or service page discussed in your IGTV and increase traffic to your website.
IGTV Requirements Checklist
▢ Video length:1- 60 minutes (max. 15 minutes when uploading from mobile)
▢ Video file type: MP4
▢ Video file size: 3.6 GB max.
▢ Video aspect ratio: 9:16 for vertical, 16:9 for horizontal
▢ Cover file: JPG or PNG (or you can select a frame from your IGTV)
▢ Cover size: 492×762 pixels min.
How to post to IGTV
There are three different ways you can post to IGTV: the Instagram mobile app, the IGTV mobile app, or the Instagram website. Check out the step-by-step guides on posting to IGTV below.
Instagram Mobile App
IGTV Mobile App
Instagram Mobile App
IGTV Best Practices
Before you create and post your first IGTV, let’s make sure that you are following some of the proven IGTV best practices. The following IGTV tips will help you increase the reach and engagement of your IGTV posts.
Consider Your Buyer Persona
IGTV is no different than other forms of content when it comes to the need for you to keep your buyer persona top of mind. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional detailed description of your ideal customer or someone who represents your target audience. Carefully consider your ideal customer’s interests, needs, and desires when you are brainstorming potential IGTV content ideas to ensure that your content is engaging.
Your IGTV must be informative or entertaining (or both!) to capture your audience’s attention. Your audience won’t respond well to content that feels like an advertisement. Identify the value you can bring to your buyer persona and keep that element at the forefront of your IGTV.
Grab Your Audience’s Attention Immediately
IGTV previews are only 30 seconds long. This means that you only have 30 seconds (at most) to intrigue your audience and encourage them to click through to watch your full IGTV. Your IGTV has to start with a bang or you’ll lose their interest.
Use Hashtags and Previews to Increase Reach
Just like regular Instagram posts, you can use hashtags in your IGTV description to share your IGTV with a wider audience. Keep hashtags relevant to your IGTV video content and brand to attract the right audience. You want to reach people who might be interested in your content, services, or products. This will help you gain relevant followers who can be converted into customers or clients down the road.
As previously mentioned, it is highly recommended that you share a preview of your IGTV to your feed and profile. IGTV posts that are not shared via a preview tend to receive significantly fewer views. You can also share your IGTV to your stories to increase reach.
Keep Your Branding Consistent
Like any other form of content, your IGTV should emulate your branding. It’s important to keep your branding consistent so that your audience can immediately recognize that a specific piece of content, in this case, your IGTV, belongs to your brand as they swipe through their feed. If you have built a strong relationship with your audience, they will be more likely to tune in and watch your full IGTV video if they recognize that it belongs to you.
Use your brand colours and maintain your brand voice to remain consistent with your existing social media profiles and online assets.
Optimize Your IGTV For Silent Viewing
Verizon Media found that 69% of people report viewing videos without sound in public spaces and 80% say they are more likely to watch an entire video when captions are available.
With the rise in popularity and accessibility of online video content, more users are watching video content on the go. To engage those who either cannot or prefer not to watch videos with sound, you need to provide other options, like captions, to keep this segment of your audience engaged.
Luckily, Instagram has now added an option to add ‘Auto-Generated’ captions to IGTVs in the caption settings. Ensure that this option is toggled on or add your own captions via a third-party editing tool such as InShot to improve the accessibility of your video.
Include a Call to Action
There’s no denying it – IGTV videos can take a lot of time and effort!
To ensure that your efforts don’t go to waste, you need to make sure that your IGTV posts have a clear purpose and a clear call to action for viewers to follow.
Do you want viewers to follow you for more exciting content? Do you want them to go to your website to check out a product? Whatever your call to action is, make sure that it is clearly stated and easy to follow.
Here are a few ideas to get you started and thinking about how your company might be able to use IGTV to reach your goals.
How to / tutorials
Highlight product features, recipes from your menu, or establish yourself as an expert in a service you offer.
Before recording, use the questions sticker on Instagram stories or write a tweet asking your audience if they have any questions about your brand, products, or services.
Office/ workspace tours
Take your audience behind the scenes of your company and show them where all the magic happens.
Collection of testimonials
Have clients record themselves praising your products or services. There’s nothing better than some good user-generated content to improve your audience’s trust in your brand.
Interviews with your staff
Show off some of the people that make your brand great. This can help humanize your brand and make you seem more approachable and authentic.
A day-in-the-life of your company
Set up your camera and do a time-lapse of your day or film a collection of updates from an exciting day in the office.
Your Brand Story
How was your brand built? How did the idea, concept, and values for your brand emerge? Don’t be afraid to get real and focus on emotional appeal to make it engaging for viewers.
Ready to dive in head-first and create your first IGTV? Go for it!
Still feel a bit overwhelmed and unsure if IGTV is right for you? Let us help!
We strongly believe that online video content is a great way to gain exposure and promote the authenticity of your brand. We can help you create great video content, whether on IGTV or other video platforms like Reels, YouTube, or TikTok, to help you reach your goals. Contact us now to get started!
Updated: December 16, 2020