IGTV: Not All Good News for Advertisers

The wait is over. IGTV is now public and offers a new capability to content creators and marketers like you to deliver long-form video on one of the most popular social media platforms. But how does this Facebook-owned technology impact the market?

No Longer Just an Instant Camera Telegram

For those who didn’t know, the name “Instagram” was a combination of “instant camera” and “telegram”. It was intended to be a purely visual platform without the clutter of sidebars or lengthy posts. Just square photos and a filter to share what you were doing at that moment. Instagram was very popular and earned its first million accounts in just two months.

It has since evolved, especially after being purchased by Facebook. It first launched exclusively on Apple phones and waited two years before releasing a version for Android. A very limited desktop version also came down the pike along with versions for Windows phones. Additional features such as messaging, posting multiple images in a single post, and Stories (to combat Snapchat) came later.

The new IGTV video feature is interesting because it makes two bold statements:

  1. That “instant” moment is no longer all that matters.
  2. Instagram is hunting for YouTube.

IGTV Video for Marketing

YouTube has always dominated the online video space. This is helped in no small part from its owner: Google. Its videos receive prime real estate in Google searches and it has built a massive dugout of content creators, corporate partnerships, and viewing audiences. Like Facebook, it is the 800lb. gorilla in the room that everyone must dance with at some point.

But Instagram is now courting YouTube content creators. They want to position themselves as a destination for new content and younger audiences that already use the platform for hours each day. For individual or corporate content creators whose target audience is an Instagram user, this is a great win. You now have a greater tool with which to connect with your audience. The measurement metrics will probably be insufficient for significant study of your audience, but it will be a start.  Instagram is trying to lure creators from YouTube to offer new brand placement opportunities, partnerships, and creativity. All of this equals revenue.

The long-form video format now allows creators to collaborate with each other and do so for more than 60 seconds. It allows interviews, comedy skits, and product demos not previously possible. Again, for marketers trying to reach Instagram users, all of these new tools are exciting. Keep in mind, a one hour IGTV video is not available to everyone. You must have a large following or a certified account to receive the maximum benefit.

The Downside of IGTV for Marketing

Yes, there is a downside. The biggest negative impact will be in platform diversity. IGTV is now a powerful contender in the realm of video destinations. You now have one more platform to which you need to direct your audience. So where does your video belong? YouTube? Facebook? Vimeo? IGTV? Obviously this means you need to understand your audience’s social media preferences as deeply as possible.

IGTV also limits how you use such videos in the future. There is no way to embed these videos on your website or in other social media platforms. You can embed YouTube videos nearly anywhere. Also, the only long-form video allowed on IGTV is something pre-recorded. That means no live long-form content. If you record for an hour, it will probably be another hour before it is done uploading.

Is IGTV Right for You?

This is actually easy to answer. If your audience prefers to consume content from Instagram over other platforms, the new IGTV is probably a strong addition to your media delivery options. You’ll have to be very particular about the type of content you place there, but your audience will appreciate the new videos.

If your audience is not primarily on Instagram, you can include it in the rare moments it may be ideal for a particular campaign, but avoid it the rest of the time. Also, keep in mind that good Instagram content may not make good IGTV content. Evolving a still image of a Mustang to a 15 minute test drive would be great. A still image of a Thanksgiving table may be enough so you don’t have to see your sketchy uncle unbutton his pants.

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