The race to dominate mobile video content

The popularity of mobile video content continues to grow with no signs of slowing. Last year, eMarketer found US adults are spending less time watching traditional TV and more time with digital and mobile media, year-after-year. In 2017, eMarketer found US adults spent 1 hour, 17 minutes watching digital video each day, with 33 minutes on a mobile device. By 2021, Cisco estimates over three-fourths (78%) of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video.

Since 2014, Facebook has been pushing video in their battle with YouTube. While still behind in views, Facebook and their larger active user base (around 2 billion to YouTube’s 1.5 billion) and policy of real user identities that provide more accurate data (Opposed to millions of random, unconnected and troll accounts that fill YouTube), Facebook has steadily gained ground. In 2017, CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke to investors on his “video first” strategy, saying “I see video as a megatrend… That’s why I’m going to keep putting video first across our family of apps”. On top of battling YouTube with publisher, brand, user-generated, and live video content, Facebook is squaring off against Netflix with their own original, partner-produced video content.


What is IGTV?

Fast forward to 2018, Facebook-owned Instagram and their massive active user base is taking another shot at YouTube (and putting another nail in Snapchat’s coffin) with Instagram TV. IGTV offers long-form video content, starting with 10 minutes max to one hour for larger accounts. Plans are to eventually allow unlimited length videos. IGTV has no ads or forms of monetization, but we can expect advertiser options by the end of the year.

YouTube has autoplay, recommendations and discovery options for its users, but Instagram differentiates itself by continuing the smooth and addicting style of its feed and stories. Hitting the IGTV button or opening the stand-alone IGTV app will start playing videos automatically tailored to you. On top of this, you can seamlessly browse and search while still watching your current video.

Now with long-form video content not limited to one minute, content creators can tell fuller stories and post more informative, demonstrative, and instructional content. This also avoids the chopping up of long-form content if using a carousel/swiping style post or a multi-part story. And unlike Stories, IGTV content lasts indefinitely, letting followers browse like they would an IG profile.

With IGTV only three weeks old, adoption from both users and content creators has just started. Like with any update to a popular social media app, there are tons of naysayers doubting its chance of success. In mid-2016, Instagram took more than a little inspiration from Snapchat and released Stories. By the end of 2017, Stories alone had 300 million daily active users, which is almost double Snapchat’s entire user base. As of June 2018, Instagram has a billion users with IGTV’s button right next to the Stories button.


IGTV: Social content marketing and video production tips

Cater to mobile attention spans

While you can upload hour-long videos, you probably shouldn’t. Optimal lengths for social media video range from two minutes to a 5 minute preferred maximum. Also, IGTV will only be viewed on mobile, unlike YouTube or Instagram, so consider that people are watching on their commute, while in bed, on a break or (hopefully not) while walking and will probably be interrupted by something IRL if they don’t get bored first. Instagram has considered this, with a “continue watching” on IGTV’s main tab.


Vertical is the future of mobile video

If you can remember when TVs were actual boxes and we literally hung up phones, you may be part of the population resistant to the vertical video trend. But it’s here to stay and it’s insisted by Instagram themselves to match their user experience. Format your videos to 1080 by 1920 pixels, or an aspect ratio of 9:16. Also, note the file size maxes out at 3.6GB and has a jpeg ready of the same size/aspect ratio for your cover image/thumbnail.


Never slack on quality

Just because long-form now provides “quantity” doesn’t mean you can skimp on quality. Users will expect this in quality of the video production and the content itself. Ensure the video file quality is 1080p minimum. And make sure it’s a video that will be worth a few minutes of your followers’ time.


Tease from stories/posts

With IGTV new and looking for users, it’ll help to lure people over through teaser stories and posts, asking to check out your IGTV channel for the full video. To help, Instagram lets you drive traffic from Stories with a direct link to an IGTV video.


Focus on original content

People don’t want to watch anything twice and with the autoplay nature of IGTV and stories, it’s harder to avoid from the user’s end. This means it’s up to you to not over-do it. Aim to avoid reposting the same content in full on IGTV and stories/posts (and use teasers).


But don’t miss out on repurposing/recycling old content

There is an exception to consider since IGTV is still new with minimal users compared to Stories. Previous story or video post content that is still relevant could be worth a repost to IGTV, since they exist there forever. When starting your IGTV channel, it can be worth your time to maximize the content you’ve already spent time/money to produce and archive more evergreen content to kick off your channel. Previous multipart video posts and Stories could be combines into full-length pieces on IGTV. This way there’s a back catalogue that plays after your newer, topical content you’ll be posting moving forward.

For example, The Drum noted Gucci had uploaded all their back catalogue of runway shows from 2015 onwards. This racked up over 400k views total on the first day alone.

For more Instagram marketing tips, check out Instagram Algorithm Update 2018: The biggest update in years.