Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom had two exciting things to announce to a crowd on June 20th in San Francisco:
This is a very exciting time to be a creator on Instagram. We all knew that Instagram was big, but clearly this train hasn’t gotten to its destination yet! Teens are watching 40% less TV than they were just 5 years ago and people are watching 60% more video on Instagram than they were 1 year ago.
What does this mean? It means that now is a fantastic time to create video content on Instagram, especially now that IGTV has been launched.
IGTV is Instagram’s answer to YouTube. The goal is that it will be mobile-first, simple and quality. One key way that it will be mobile-first is by being strictly in the vertical format. This, unsurprisingly, is stirring up criticism. Until now, people who dared to upload vertical videos to YouTube have felt the wrath of the viewers in the comment sections. That said, vertical videos have been around us for some time now. Instagram stories are vertical, same as with Snapchat and Facebook stories. The vertical format is frequently used for video calls, too.
The biggest hurdle, in my opinion, with vertical videos will be getting content creators to adopt it, and get the formatting right. Not all phones have the same aspect ratio, so this will make cropping a challenge for creators. I have a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, which has a long and narrow screen (18.5:9) and I’ve seen a couple videos that had text that had been cropped out of frame.
The issue here is that creators who are posting to many platforms might find it difficult to easily repackage their content for this format. Needless to say, the potential of being first in a market of 1 billion active users is a pretty compelling reason to put up with the hassle of reformatting your videos.
When you first open up the app, the simplicity is quite apparent. It’s clear that Instagram’s goal here is to just put beautiful things right in front of you. The moment you open the app, there’s a video playing and you are presented with different videos you can scroll through while the video continues to play. The big question here is, how good will its search function be? To what extent will you be able to search for specific subject matter?
I tried searching for something that would likely be put up quickly, since this is the Internet: cat videos. Searching for both cat and #cat yielded just a list of channels with cat in the name. The search function has been one of YouTube’s best weapons against competitors. I’m guessing that Instagram isn’t trying to make IGTV the next platform where people search for “how to create a pivot table in Excel.” However, you need your users to be confident that the search function works, otherwise they’ll keep returning to YouTube.
Quality is the last of the 3 primary goals of IGTV that Kevin Systrom outlined. There’s no doubt that it’s a beautiful app. There’s no real home screen and the interface is as minimal as it gets. The video resolution is up to 4k and the video loading is practically instantaneous.
What are some of the other key features of YouTube that creators love and will want in IGTV? Monetization is a critical feature of YouTube. There’s no monetization on IGTV right now, but all signs point to it being in the works. Audience engagement and dialog has been huge for YouTube – even if it’s not always civil. The comment section on IGTV is a little more hidden than YouTube’s, and you can’t make a comment with the video playing. Perhaps this is by design?
Instagram has had a huge amount of success in the past with adopting competitors’ features. They launched live videos in direct competition with Periscope and Stories to compete with Snapchat. As I’m sure most would agree, these features have done extremely well. However, IGTV is without a doubt a much more sizeable undertaking. One of the key factors when it comes to expanding a business is, “does this new venture align with our core mission?” I believe that IGTV does. Instagram is all about enabling people to share beautiful and inspiring content with the world – so why would they stop at 60 seconds?
Need help growing your Instagram account?
One of the most important pieces to grow your Instagram account is engaging with new users who aren’t yet following you. If you’re not yet doing this, then you must start. If you are, then you know that engaging with hundreds of accounts can be extremely time consuming. Let Social Foxer help.