Instagram TV, better known as IGTV is a standalone app that also has a section within the regular Instagram app. It introduces long-form video to the platform and gives marketers yet another way to connect with audiences to share content. It’s about catering to the ability to watch videos on mobile devices and is thought to be Instagram’s answer to Facebook Watch, YouTube, and Snapchat’s Discover features. Here’s what you need to know about it.
Anyone with an Instagram account can set up an IGTV channel, using either your smartphone or desktop. You’ll connect your Instagram account to the IGTV app and start the setup process from there if you’re on mobile. On a desktop, you’ll have to go to Instagram.com and login to your account - then open the IGTV tab to get started.
Because IGTV is linked to and accessible through Instagram, you can still automate actions with an Instagram bot - but you won’t be able to automate IGTV itself. IGTV is basically longer versions of Instagram Stories, so if you’re already familiar with it, you should be successful with IGTV, too.
IGTV recommends multiple videos to anyone who uses the app, which increases the chance your content will be distributed to new followers who have expressed interested in content similar or related to your own.
1. Videos are only allowed in portrait format.
IGTV only allows videos in portrait format so that mobile users do not have to turn their phones to watch. There’s no word about when or if landscape video will be added. Since the main target is mobile users, it stands to reason that the landscape will not be added in the future, because the whole point is to ensure people can watch with ease.
2. You can’t record video in the IGTV app.
IGTV is strictly a video-only platform, but as of now, you cannot record video directly within the IGTV app. This may change in the future, but currently, it’s only possible to upload external video files to your channel.
The videos must be in vertical mode, with the ideal size being 16:9 aspect ratio as Instagram users are already accustomed to. 4:5 is also supported, but in this aspect ratio, the video will not fill the entire screen.
There is no limit to the number of videos you can upload, but they must be at least 15 seconds long. Once it’s uploaded, any of your existing Instagram followers can see it. All your current followers will automatically follow your IGTV channel. They are only able to unfollow your channel by unfollowing your Instagram account.
3. Ads aren’t available for IGTV...yet.
Because the IGTV platform is still fairly new - it debuted in June 2018 - it’s still trying to build the brand. As such, advertising is not currently available on any IGTV videos or channels. There is no word about when this feature will be added, or how it will work. It’s possible content creators could be paid for clicks when ads are shown on their content much like the YouTube model, but until they include the feature, it’s not something marketers need to even consider as an option.
4. Stick with around 10 minutes.
Unless you’re a huge brand, chances are you’ll be limited to videos that are maxed out at 10 minutes long. In the future, it’s possible you’ll be able to post videos that are up to an hour long. Right now, there are some brands with this ability, but the average account is capped at 10 minutes. Instagram has already said they do what to eventually remove time limitations on the uploads.
5. Plan titles, descriptions, and thumbnails in advance.
After choosing the video you want to upload to your channel, you can edit the title, description, and cover image. You’ll want to make sure you give your video a descriptive title that fits the content but also entices your audience to watch. Titles are cropped off the thumbnail at around 20 to 25 characters so make sure the title is either short or includes the most important information at the beginning.
When you upload content from a mobile device rather than a desktop, your titles and descriptions cannot be edited after you post it. Knowing this, make sure you double check for typos and have all the information you want to include before you post.
Though you can edit titles and descriptions from the desktop app if needed, planning both your titles and descriptions in advance can help reduce or eliminate the need to go back to your desktop and make changes later.
Each video you upload to IGTV will also have a thumbnail image. It’s typically generated from a frame of your video, and in most cases, isn’t really a good fit. Though you can choose any frame in the video, most people create their own thumbnail art for each video, as seen on YouTube. By planning your videos in advance, you can also take the time to create custom thumbnail art to upload, creating a more professional look for your IGTV channel.
Though the platform isn’t without its quirks, there is a lot of potential for this to grow in the future. Learning the ropes now, and planning to have a regular series or consistent content - whether it be behind the scenes looks at your company, webinars, product demos, interviews, or something else entirely, will put you ahead of the rest of the game as the app grows.