This month marks one year since Instagram launched IGTV. A native long-form video channel within the app, IGTV was destined for big things. After all, it combines two big social trends: Instagram itself and video. But the new feature has not yet fulfilled its potential.
Video first became available on Instagram five years ago, and view rates have continued to climb ever since. In 2018, the social media platform said its users watched 60% more video than in 2017.
And it’s not just limited to Instagram - video is growing across the board and shows no signs of slowing. Current predictions estimate that mobile video will make up more than three quarters of all mobile data traffic by 2021.
Instagram itself is on the up, with monthly active users hitting one billion earlier this year while other platforms are seeing a decline, including Instagram’s own parent company Facebook. Continued growth may be, in part at least, due to Instagram’s continued roll-out of innovative features, such as Stories and tagged products, all of which have been widely adopted.
Combining these trends, IGTV seemed poised for success, so it was a surprise that uptake from brands and marketers following the initial launch was slow.
Initial challenges included difficulties with discovery and subsequently engagement was impacted. In fact, brands and influencers alike reported significantly lower viewership on IGTV than in-feed videos, with some claiming it was three times less.
However, there’s plenty of potential for the platform - and it’s clear Instagram agrees. It is showing commitment to IGTV with the recent roll-out of the ‘preview in feed’ function. Users are shown the first minute of an IGTV video in their main feed with a ‘watch full video’ call to action which viewers simply tap to be transported to IGTV to watch the remaining footage.
Since this update, traffic to IGTV have skyrocketed with estimates placing the increase in views at anywhere between 300 and 1,000%. Marketers using the ‘preview in feed’ feature are reporting a higher engagement than when posting solely to IGTV. The channel is beginning to gain traction, and it will be interesting to see how this evolves as more and more influencers invest in longer-form content, acting as creative directors for brands and their personal projects.
Despite the initially lukewarm reception from brands, IGTV can - and has been - a successful component of an influencer marketing strategy. However, there are a number of considerations to building a strong strategy that works for your individual brand.
At Takumi, we firmly believe success in influencer marketing comes when brands move from thinking about ‘who’ they are working with to ‘how’ they collaborate and the kind of content that can be produced.
IGTV’s mobile-first long-form video style is a clear rival to YouTube and allows influencers to connect closely with their audience. It offers an alternative way for Instagram influencers to speak to their audiences, by facilitating extended videos without the need to switch to YouTube.
However, it’s important to avoid shoehorning it into a strategy simply for the sake of utilising all of Instagram’s features, or because another brand or influencer executed it well. The incorporation of IGTV should not come at the expense of a cohesive strategy, so it’s important to decide what role it will play, if it all, and how it will work with other content. The success of ‘preview in feed’ shows IGTV increases when it does not sit as a silo.
Additionally, consider whether an influencer can effectively deliver the content. If video is not a regular part of their strategy, launching straight into IGTV may fall flat with audiences as there’s no evidence of success. If the influencer is regularly posting short-form videos in one style, asking them to dramatically change to suit a brand campaign on IGTV may be jarring for their fans.
And it’s not just content mix - it’s crucial to check whether the influencer has the skills to execute a long-form IGTV video. Images and short piece-to-camera videos on Stories are undoubtedly less resource-intensive. Long-form video content, by comparison, requires a significantly larger amount of planning, time and production.
When used effectively, IGTV can be included in a wider marketing strategy to create an end-to-end consumer journey. All content can be delivered on one platform, for example, an introduction to a product, product reviews and even an ecommerce ‘checkout’ as Instagram rolls out this feature. IGTV can be added to the mix with examples spanning styling videos, makeup tutorials, tech guides and reviews and many more.
Unlike other Instagram features, IGTV can’t be directly monetised at this stage. However, influencers can add affiliate links to featured brands. Affiliate links can be clicked on to open another window to purchase.
As Instagram continues to show support for IGTV, it’s likely additional features will be released – with potential monetisation capabilities to come.
Don’t let the slow start put you off – it’s clear Instagram is determined to make a success story of IGTV, we can expect IGTV to become an increasing part of influencer marketing strategy. We look forward to watching how it evolves over the next 12 months.
Adam Williams is CEO of Instagram influencer marketing service at Takumi.