We recently reported that the mainstreaming of influencer marketing had received an enormous boost in late June when Facebook launched its Branded Collabs app, which enables brands and influencers to search more efficiently for each other. As the happy owner of Instagram (we assume they’re happy; why shouldn’t they be?), Facebook has just taken a big leap forward in that arena as well.
Instagram, which now reports having one billion total monthly users, has been a boon to all types of businesses and their influencers through the capacity it gives them for sharing updates with customers quickly and efficiently. Already well on the way to becoming the dominant force in social media, Instagram now is strengthening its position and promoting further growth of influencer marketing with its newest offering: Instagram TV or IGTV.
Not all users are created equal.
IGTV, which likely will compete directly with YouTube, will allow users to watch long-form videos created by businesses, influencers, and other people they follow. While the length of Instagram videos has been capped at one minute, ordinary users of IGTV will be allowed ten minutes per video, and high-profile users—the Kardashians and Jenners of this world—will have up to an hour at their disposal. Instagram has not yet specified publically how many followers a user must have to rate the more generous upper limit.
Businesses and influencers that want to share videos longer than a minute will now be able to do so without sharing a YouTube link. IGTV is not a Twitter-style tool for live videos, being geared instead to high-quality creators and requiring pre-shot, vertical videos.
WIth a global rollout in progress, IGTV will be soon be universally available. Designed to look its best on phones, it appears poised to make large inroads against YouTube. As Instagram said in its blog post introducing the new development, “it’s built for how you actually use your phone, so videos are full-screen and vertical.”
How it works:
IGTV will be accessible via the Instagram app, and also with a separate IGTV app, now available in app stores. The IGTV button appears at the top right of the Instagram app home screen, beside the message inbox button. Once opened, IGTV displays as a separate section with tabs for videos recommended on the basis of whom the user follows, videos posted by people they follow, and globally popular videos. Viewing someone else’s IGTV channel is a matter of going to their Instagram home page and tapping the IGTV icon below their avatar next to any highlighted story. Posting a video requires first creating your own channel and then clicking on your own avatar within IGTV. Videos can be posted to Facebook simultaneously, providing a one-two punch.
The stampede has begun.
In the brief span of time since IGTV’s launch, entertainment celebrities, athletes, and other large-scale influencers have embraced it enthusiastically, though most seem to be staying well within the half-hour limit, confining themselves to about thirty minutes or less most of the time. Publishers are also enjoying the opportunities offered by IGTV: The Economist has attracted 1.2 million views of a nine-minute video about ecotourism, while the BBC has 12 different accounts going. Kylie Jenner’s Vogue video hit 240,000 within a week.
As previously mentioned, IGTV allows the posting of videos on Facebook simultaneously, and it is not difficult to imagine other ways of making the two platforms work together. If Branded Collabs helps businesses and influencers find each other on Facebook, they obviously are not limited to conducting their relationship there. IGTV gives users sizable new opportunities to expand reach, resonance, and engagement, and a long-form video on multiple platforms could be a powerful tool.
It’s safe to assume that Instagram also will soon allow integration of sponsored content in IGTV, as sponsored content is already present in stories and feed features. We can expect to see sponsored videos appearing along with videos from people we follow.
The beauty is in the vertical dimension.
IGTV appears to be especially well suited to fashion influencers doing try-on hauls or showing outfits, as vertical videos make it much easier to show an outfit to good advantage. Runway show recaps are also a natural for vertical videos, providing easy full-length display of the human form while excluding much unnecessary background. Similarly, the vertical view is optimal for beauty gurus because the vertical view corresponds to the configuration of the human face. It’s reasonable to expect fashion and beauty to be the first niches in which IGTV really takes off, as so many other activities—food, gaming, sports—thrive on the horizontal.
A cautionary word…
As with any new tool, it will be essential for users to know their audience. Videos sometimes seem like a magical way to get content across, but it’s still possible to have too much of a good thing in some respects. A (too)long-form video that few people watch is no better than a (too)long-form article that few people read. One of the attractions of Instagram is its quality of immediacy; it’s a place where things happen quickly. IGTV augments what Instagram can do, but it probably won’t change the platform’s essential character. It’s also worth bearing Instagram’s younger demographic in mind: 60 percent of its users are in the 16-to-34 age bracket, according to Statista, and their attention span might not be the same as among Facebook’s older demographic.
Instagram TV, if used wisely, should prove to be one more boost for influencer marketing, providing brands and customers with new opportunities to associate themselves with trusted third parties producing more content and more different types of content across more platforms.