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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
It was recently reported by Searchmetrics that Google is strongly prioritizing social media activities in their ranking algorithm. This knowledge should have profound implications in the SEO strategy of your company and how you include social media in your overall online plans. The SEO strategy you have built with your Arkside consultants incorporates this information already and we encourage you to utilize these best practices in your social media efforts.
Seven of the top 10 factors in a website’s rank involve social media. They are:
1) Google +1
2) Facebook Shares
4) Facebook Total
5) Facebook Comments
6) Facebook Likes
The importance of social media elements has been a growing trend in Google’s SEO algorithm and 2013 seems to reinforce that notion. Although backlinks continue to remain vital, there are other factors which have decreased in importance such as keywords links and domains. It is interesting to note that Google is specifically including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, while ignoring LinkedIn which is a hub of deep knowledge on nearly every possible industry. We’ll have to see how or if this evolves over time. When sharing your content on social media, remember that people don’t want to see you talk about yourself all day. For every 7-10 social media posts you make, one should be about you.
Also of note in the report are the on-site elements Google is looking for. It is no surprise that “content is still king” and Google wants websites to create unique content that is valuable to the intended audience. As a contrary example, the Arkside Marketing blog is filled with information about the company, areas of marketing, best practices, and client profiles. If we suddenly began blogging about fishing or the latest updates to IRS tax code, Google might devalue our site for being grossly off-topic. Ensure your website has fresh, unique, and quality content in order to build your authority on your topic(s). These are the on-site factors examined by Google:
Missing from the first list in this blog post is #3 – Number of backlinks. Google still considers this to be a critical metric of your authority on a particular subject. If you have good content, Google assumes people will like it, link to it, and share it publicly via their own site or social media channels. This does not mean you should implement any “black hat” SEO techniques and create blog farms filled with backlinks to your site. White hat techniques are still the unarguably best way to achieve Google SEO success.
While Google hasn’t made many dramatic shifts in their ranking priority from last year to this year, social media has climbed in importance and must remain a key factor in your online strategies. Use social media to promote the high-quality, unique content on your site and encourage people to distribute that content via backlinks and social media sharing. This is how you will achieve digital success.