Believe it or not, if done right, IGTV can be one of the pillars of your marketing strategy. As that old saying goes — don’t put all of your social media posts in one basket. Or something like that.
Anyway, this article will cover the basics of IGTV, how to make IGTV videos marketing-friendly, as well as how you can build your marketing strategy around it. As usual, expect lengthy explanations with the occasional far-fetched analogy sprinkled on top to make things a little more digestible. And some stuff about Planable, because you’re on our turf.
Table of contents:
What is IGTV? How does IGTV work?
IGTV is a long-form video sharing platform accessible either via Instagram or the standalone app. Launched in 2018, the purpose of this platform is to give brands creators the opportunity to create videos longer than typical Instagram posts and stories.
Regular users can upload 10 minute long videos, while verified creators can post videos up to an hour long, the latter only when uploading from the web.
That’s still way, way less than what YouTube currently allows — technically infinite, judging by the 12-hour long video game critiques I watch in my spare time. It’s also worth considering that YouTube and Instagram don’t lend themselves to the same type of content and marketing. More on the differences between YouTube and IGTV later in the article.
Instagram has always been about short form, snappy content. Therefore, IGTV can be a way for Instagram creators to branch off into long-form content while keeping their fanbase basically on the same platform. Those that don’t feel comfortable with focusing on IGTV can use it to complement their Instagram marketing strategy.
Is IGTV worth it in 2021?
Absolutely. While brands have been slow to adopt IGTV, that’s more due to the high cost of producing long form video content than the platform itself.
Here are a few reasons why brands should consider including IGTV in their (even Instagram) marketing strategy:
It (still) feels fresh and new, even if it was released nearly 3 years ago. Don’t ask me why, it just does, okay?
It’s less competitive than other platforms, like TikTok and even Instagram. If you play your cards right, you can enjoy the so-called “first mover advantage”.
It’s an almost guaranteed way to expand your reach. Here’s the thing — you don’t even have to create IGTV videos exclusively for this platform. You can reupload content from your YouTube or Facebook page.
IGTV viewers are by definition more engaged, because the platform is designed and marketed with long-form content in mind. While the fact that fewer Instagram users have downloaded the separate IGTV app, it’s safe to assume that those that did are yearning for long-form content, ESPECIALLY if it’s created by brands/individuals that they already follow.
Provides more opportunities for community building. This point is related to the ones mentioned above — long-form content is hot again. The longer the videos, the more likely they are to address the core concerns, challenges and problems your audience faces. Long form content also provides a great opportunity to tap into a larger array of your audience’s interests.
IGTV vs YouTube
We’ve covered the advantages of IGTV and why brands should jump into the bandwagon while the competition is minimal. But how does IGTV compare to YouTube, the tech leviathan it was clearly conceived to compete with?
Let’s take a look:
IGTV Video format vs YouTube
The first major difference between IGTV and YouTube is that the former supports only vertical videos.
This could limit your options to some degree because you have to record videos specifically for IGTV. Also, this kinda, sorta contradicts what I said earlier about content cross-repurposability — if that’s not a real expression, it damn well should be; here’s another one: efficientize. Why doesn’t that word exist?
Fortunately, there is a workaround — you can edit a horizontally oriented video and Frankenstein its aspect ratio to 9:16. It’s not ideal, but think about it this way — if Instagram had made it easy for users to cross-post their content to both IGTV and YouTube, that would’ve made IGTV’s existence redundant.
Another small niggle is that IGTV supports only files that are saved in the mp4 format. For this one, they have no excuse, as YouTube allows you to upload files saved in FLV, MOV, AVI, MP4 and other commonly used file formats. But since most digital devices use mp4 by default, IGTV’s adherence to this format is not that big of a deal.
YouTube has over a decade of existence over IGTV, so you shouldn’t be surprised if you’re having trouble finding content that you’re interested in — though YouTube isn’t perfect in that respect either, to be perfectly honest with you. It all comes down to the fact that IGTV’s search engine simply hasn’t had enough time to train itself to recommend your favorite cute otter videos and fascinating deep-dives into Reykjavik’s urban planning.
There’s also the fact that your YouTube videos are much easier to find via a simple Google search than what you post on IGTV. But, to be fair, we shouldn’t take that against Instagram, since Google owns the damn thing.
AND, also important — YouTube simply dwarfs IGTV in terms of sheer volume of content.
However, what is arguably IGTV’s biggest flaw can also be IGTV’s greatest advantage — there is more space for niche, laser-targeted content to breathe. It’s the ideal platform for content that doesn’t fit in a typical instagram story or post, and feels out of place on YouTube and Facebook — say, a DJ Premier jam session.
Another point in favour of IGTV is that it feels more professional than YouTube, both due to its aesthetics, and the demographics it attracts, creators and users alike.
Believe it or not, YouTube used to be the kind of place where people just uploaded videos and that pretty much was the extent of their involvement with the platform. No monetization options, no analytics. Its initial concept was laughably short-sighted, in retrospect — it was supposed to be a dating platform.
Nowadays, not only does YouTube have as much in common with a dating website as, well, two things that have nothing in common, but it’s also chock-full of monetization options, with the average YouTuber earning around $18 per 1000 views.
At the moment, views and likes can’t be monetized on IGTV, so most influencers rely on sponsorships and other crowdfunding platforms such as Patreon to earn a living.
BUT — and this could be the break IGTV needs to finally, legitimately challenge YouTube hegemony. As of 2020, Instagram started testing ads in a few regions, such as the US, UK and Australia, with plans to roll out ads globally by the end of 2021. To be eligible for IGTV ads, creators must comply with Instagram’s Partner Monetization Policies and Community Guidelines. Instagram takes 55% of ad revenue generated per view, which is paid monthly.
Analytics & Insights
Analytics and insights are the cornerstone of every marketing strategy worth its salt. Knowing how many people have watched your video and how many comments and likes it got can help you decide which type of content you should focus your efforts on.
Unfortunately, in the case of analytics, YouTube is the clear winner. The insights that YouTube studio offers are the following:
Average Percentage Viewed (by far one of the most important ranking factors))
Average View Duration
Impressions Click-Through Rate
As opposed to IGTV, which only provides the following metrics:
Average percentage viewed
Data-centric marketers might find IGTV’s lackluster analytics offering pretty disconcerting, but it’s safe to assume that Instagram will develop this area as the platform grows.
Here are a few minor differences between IGTV and YouTube that didn’t fit into a particular category:
IGTV length. 15 minutes/1 hours on IGTV vs basically infinite on YouTube.
YouTube has a better optimized search bar.
IGTV has hashtags, but a feature similar to YouTube’s tags could help creators squeeze a little extra SEO juice out of their content.
Interface differences. IGTV’s interface is mainly mobile-centric.
How to post IGTV videos
Here’s how to upload to IGTV in a few simple steps:
Install the IGTV app.
Click on + to add a video
Choose/film a video
Select a cover image *****
Add title and description. Make sure to add lots of relevant keywords.
*** You can also do that with Planable, FYI. Where you can also add content for Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Google My Business, and TikTok. Whoo, out of breath. That’s how many platforms we support. More than an average person’s breath.
How to post IGTV on Instagram from the native app
Here’s the thing — you don’t actually need the dedicated app to post on IGTV. You can do this using the Instagram app:
Open the Instagram app and tap + at the bottom of the screen.
Select your preferred video and tap “Next”
Select “Long video” in the “Share as” menu that pops up and click “Continue”
Add a title and description
Tap “Add to series” if said video is part of an on-going series.
Finally, you can post a 15 second preview of your video on your Instagram feed and stories for some extra engagement juice.
How to post IGTV videos with Planable – IGTV automation at its best
Remember at the beginning of this article when I said we’re gonna talk about Planable? Well, here we are.
Tired of planning your IGTV campaigns in spreadsheets? Of back-and-forth feedback ping-ponging on three different chat apps and four email addresses? Of rummaging through tens of Google Docs stubs looking for one piece of copy that you’ve written on a whim two months ago? Tired in general? Aren’t we all…
But you know what will make you, uhm, not tired? “Energized” was the word I was looking for. Planable. Use Planable, post multiple videos on IGTV at once and say goodbye to all that hassle.
How to schedule IGTV videos
When you create an Instagram post, you can choose between three formats: post, story and IGTV.
Here’s how to schedule your IGTV upload in a few simple steps:
Set up your company and workflow.
Next up, add your account. To do that, simply click on “Add pages”, go to Instagram and log in with your account.
Select “Instagram”, click on “Compose”, fiddle around with your post, save and schedule.
And that’s it, you’re good to go. Actually, no, that’s not it. Here’s how to publish your IGTV post:
Here’s how to can publish your IGTV:
Tap on the push notification from Planable.
Check if you’re connected to the right Instagram account. If all’s good, tap “Publish now”.
Click on “Feed” followed by “Next”.
Select to share it as a “Long Video”
Choose your cover image
Your description text will be copied from Planable, just long-press select to paste it. Don’t forget about the title.
Select “Post to IGTV”
Now let’s go through other things you can do with Planable’s IGTV integration:
How to post IGTV videos from Planable’s sleek content calendar
Physical calendars may be a thing of the past, but social media calendars, hoo boy, they’re all the rage now. Because nothing’s cooler than seeing your social media campaigns neatly organized in a straightforward and easy to visualize format. Or so I’ve been told.
Anyway, Planable’s social media calendar allows you to get an overview of your IGTV campaigns with a single glance. How? Well, imagine printing out your IGTV posts in physical form and stitching them together on a wall in a calendar like layout, the difference being you won’t need to do that, because 1. You care for the environment and 2. You already got Planable’s social media calendar in, like, digital form.
With Planable’s social media calendar, not only can you get an overview of your IGTV campaigns, but you can also manage it with the flick of a wrist (or finger, if you’re not using your trackpad like a wizard swooshing his wand). This is also where you can schedule your IGTV posts. To change your posting schedule, simply drag and drop the post to its respective time slot. It’s that easy.
Your content will never see the light of day unless it’s ready
Here’s the thing about IGTV — a video requires a lot more work than your average text-only social media post, and mistakes are harder to fix post factum. You definitely don’t want to bounce back a video to Dave from Video Editing after it’s been posted and deleted because of a small mistake that nobody noticed.
To prevent that from happening, Planable has a, what we like to call “PR crisis prevention system”. This comes in the form of a multi-layered approval system that ensures IGTV videos never see the light of day until they are absolutely ready to leave the coop. Basically it’s no longer your immense responsibility alone to stare at that post and ensure it’s got no mistakes. You peers and stakeholders have a big green button they can press. Once they agree it’s ready to go live.
In English: if post bad, managers no allow. Anyway, here’s how the approval workflows work:
None. For one man shows, lone sea wolves, and other fancy expressions that describe what social media has been until like five or six or so years ago when companies started taking social media seriously.
Optional. This bad boy is for teams that want to invite people to share their thoughts, but not impose any approvals AND keep an open workflow. With Optional, you can set dedicated approvers in your workflow, but if they’re unavailable, you can go ahead and post the content.
Required. No one can publish content until the designated approver, uhm, approves it. Once that happens, the post is set to schedule automatically.
Multi-level. The safest of safe security systems. Basically, it sets up a chain of approvers, and once a designated team member gives their OK, the IGTV video gets pushed further into the chain.
As always, following IGTV’s recommended dimensions*** can mean the difference between delivering a sharp, high-quality product to your audience and, well, providing something that’’s not (sorry, I’m out of metaphors today). Here are the recommended IGTV dimensions just so you have them handy:
IGTV time limit: Up to 15 minutes when uploaded on mobile and up to 60 minutes when uploaded on computer.
IGTV ratio: 9:16 (vertical) or 16:9 (horizontal).
FPS: Minimum of 30 frames per second
IGTV video dimensions: minimum resolution of 720 px.
IGTV video size (files): 650MB (for videos 10 minutes or less) and 3.6GB (for videos up to an hour)
IGTV format: MP4
IGTV cover dimensions: 420px by 654 px (1:1.55 ratio)
***With Planable’s nifty feed view, you can preview your IGTV content exactly as it would appear in people’s feeds.
How to plan a winning IGTV marketing strategy
Now that you know what IGTV is and what sets it apart from YouTube, there’s still the burning question of what kind of content you can create. On that same note, what are some of the strategies you can use to make your content perform?
In this section, we’ve collected a few content ideas for the type of IGTV videos you could experiment with. But before we do that, let’s briefly go over a few of the things you should consider before pursuing one type of content or the other.
Determine your target audience
If you’ve been in the marketing biz’ for more than a couple of years, odds are you rolled your eyes at this. I know, there’s no article that doesn’t mention this. But that doesn’t make it less true.
It’s still by far the most important first step you should take before jumping into the IGTV bandwagon, and truly deserving of an article of its own. IGTV might be easier to get into than other platforms, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a walk in the park. That’s because the creators and brands that entered the IGTV ecosystem early have established secure footholds there.
If you already have a strong following on Instagram, then you’ve retroactively solved the issue, a.i, that’s your target audience. However, sometimes you’ll want to expand your target audience beyond your Instagram following.
If you’re fresh off the boat and have no following, well, you know that old saying: the best time to gain a follower was 20 years ago, and the next best time is now.
Develop your content strategy
Once you get an idea about your audience and format, it’s time to develop your content strategy. Now, there are many ways to go about this. The most common method is to sketch a plan covering guidelines related to posting schedule, quality, topic to cover and so on and so forth.
Speaking of which — keeping a posting schedule is key in maintaining a consistent presence on IGTV. *** However, this too depends on the type of content you create and, by extension, audience. As a general rule, posting on weekday evenings (except Friday) is indicated, because there will be more people to see your videos than during the day.
*** As it happens, Planable has just the right feature to help you maintain a consistent posting schedule. Use Planable’s sleek and intuitive calendar view to get a detailed overview of your IGTV campaign and adapt your posting schedule accordingly. To change a post’s schedule, simply drag and drop it to its relevant time slot.
Don’t forget about cover images
Cover images on IGTV are just as important as thumbnails on YouTube. As such, IGTV covers must meet the same requirements as YouTube thumbnails:
Be aesthetically consistent with the rest of your branding
Bold, striking colours that attract attention
Enticing copy ***
(optional) CTA that encourages viewers to watch
***Thought there’s nothing we can add to this? Wrong. Planable’s feedback and collaboration functionalities help teams write and brainstorm the perfect IGTV copy, all in one place — via comments right next to the post itself.
Respond to all comments
Replying to user comments is good practice in and of itself, but not for the reasons you’d think. Engagement is a two-way process. To boost engagement, you need to nurture a space that encourages debate and discussion. That’s basically a fancy way of saying that you should reply to comments, because more comments = more algo juice.
Plus, you really want your brand to have a personality and let people know that there’s an actual person behind it who has their best interest in mind. That’s why it’s essential to use high-quality helpdesk software and customer service tools. On top of that, there’s the whole community-building aspect of it. Believe it or not, reaching people with your content is the easy part — building a community that actively engages with your content is a whole different beast.
How to post IGTV videos with business in mind & types of IGTV content you can pursue
Now let’s go over the types of content that lend themselves best to IGTV:
Before IGTV, product demos didn’t quite fit with Instagram, and I’m saying that in the most literal sense possible, and stories allow for a maximum of 30 second clips, while standard posts have a 60 second limit. Of course, one could work around Instagram’s limit by splitting their clip in multiple, 30 second increments, but that’s not an ideal way to present a demo.
With IGTV, you can finally upload longer videos that go into painstaking detail about your product’s features. Well, maybe not painstaking detail — here’s ours, it’s a sweet 5 minutes long.
Look up “how to build brand trust” on Google, and “TESTIMONIALS!!!” (probably not in all caps and with exclamation points, that was for dramatic effect) will be one of the most common suggestions. Testimonials are a great way for any business to build trust and boost their brand’s awareness, and IGTV is one of the most natural platforms to post them on.
How to Videos
At this point, how to videos are almost synonymous with the internet. And there’s a good reason why they work so well — they offer instant value to the searchers, and the creators get a much needed engagement boost. It’s a win-win situation for everybody involved.
However, even the most informative how-to videos don’t necessarily translate into high conversion rates. That’s mainly due to their hyper targeted nature.
So, what can brands do to avoid this? Apart from providing valuable and educational information, brands have to give viewers a reason to come back, and the good ol’ CTA won’t cut it here. Splitting the information into multiple videos or making the video itself part of a long-running series could help in this sense. So, instead of “The Definitive Guide to High Conversion Rates”, maybe “5 ways to increase conversion” could be a better approach, because then it can be followed up by a “5 MORE” type of video.
This is all relative, of course. What worked for a brand could fall flat for yours. It all comes down to taking the pulse of your audience and seeing what works and what doesn’t and then experimenting.
This is a no-brainer. Recycled videos is a type of content that uses the least amount of resources because you’re effectively taking content that you’ve already produced and repurposing it for another platform (in this case, IGTV). It doesn’t have to be the same content, though.
You can, for example, make a compilation of your Instagram Stories and, assuming you’ve jumped into the YouTube marketing bandwagon, cut segments from multiple YouTube videos mesh them together in videos for IGTV. When it comes to repurposed content, the world’s your oyster.
Tips to improve your IGTV performance
- Optimize for silent viewing
- Work on your hook
- Focus on long-form content
- Analytics, analytics, analytics
- Use pop-up text, if possible
- Use hashtags
- Make enticing cover photos
- Make your IGTV videos brand consistent