What Instagram’s IGTV Can Offer Brands

After taking on Snapchat with ephemeral content, Instagram is now vying for YouTube’s video throne. In late June, Instagram launched IGTV, its longform video platform. Users can now post videos up to an hour in length, and the videos are viewed vertically, the way we naturally hold our phones.

Instagram’s new venture raises some questions—namely, what sort of content can we expect from the platform, and how should brands get involved?

Who’s on IGTV right now?

Most of IGTV’s publishers are influencers posting the sort of content you might expect to see from YouTube regulars. Makeup tutorials, daily vlogs from influencers, interview segments, and dogs doing cute things already make up most of IGTV’s regular feed.

Certain brands have already realized IGTV has the potential to be more interactive than YouTube. Bacardi partnered with dancers Les Twins to create an interactive video campaign. The twins asked users for advice ahead of their music video shoot using polls in their own Instagram Stories— questions about lighting, choreography, and the length of the final product. Once the polls closed, the twins incorporated the feedback before releasing the final video on their own account and Bacardi’s IGTV channel.

What do audiences want to see?

According to Netflix, people want to watch an hour-long video of Cole Sprouse eating a burger. While this particular use of IGTV may not appeal to everyone, it did get Netflix 676,000 IGTV views and nearly 5,000 comments. Chipotle posted a video of someone pulling an endless stream of burrito and taco options out of a bottomless Chipotle bag. It’s clear that brands like Netflix, Chipotle, and Bacardi are experimenting with ways of using the platform that differ from the commercials we’re used to seeing on television.

“IGTV presents a unique opportunity to engage with users at a deeper level,” said Kinzi Sparks, the lead for paid social at iProspect. “When your customers are thoughtfully seeking and opting into a more in-depth viewing experience, there’s a stronger chance that your brand’s message will be received with welcome captivation.”

What’s next?

“One area that the Instagram team needs to focus on is ensuring that IGTV doesn’t simply become a place for stories to live,” warned Neil Waller, co-founder of influencer marketing agency Whalar. “It should not be a place where users simply post their stories, unless Instagram’s end goal is for IGTV to become a replacement for stories.”

Brands like Everlane and publishers like BuzzFeed have posted repurposed Instagram Stories to IGTV, but perhaps this is just an attempt to establish a presence until they have the resources to create new longform video.

Chipotle remains an outlier by hiring Day One Agency to produce its inaugural video. “It’s a different format, so we want to make sure we are designing specifically for longform and vertical content,” said Tressie Lieberman, Chipotle’s executive director of engagement marketing. IGTV seems built to entertain larger audiences, rather than offer the short personal and educational updates that we’ve come to expect from the stories feature.

Currently, IGTV isn’t showing ads, but that will probably change as the platform figures out the best way for its contributors to monetize their videos. If marketers and advertisers want to take advantage of the platform, for now they’ll have to work with brands that already have Instagram channels and explore longer content that tells engaging stories.

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