It seemed to appear out of the out of nowhere, surprising creators, users, and even brands. One day you logged onto Instagram and noticed a new little TV icon at the top of your screen…and all of the sudden we had IGTV. Out of the blue, this new feature has influencers and marketers alike questioning its potential and wondering how it can benefit their business. So, what is Instagram’s goal with IGTV? Are they looking for this new development to stand out like nothing else or is Instagram looking to take on YouTube as some much needed competition in the industry?
Brands should be intrigued and excited about IGTV’s potential. Disagree? Think back to Instagram stories which took some time to warm up to, but have now become a necessity for nearly every influencer campaign. Stories’ only drawback is their 24 hour shelf life. On the other hand you have Instagram Live, where the limitation is the risk of live videos following FTC guidelines and putting full trust in the influencers to create content that can’t be pre-approved. Now that IGTV is here we seem to have the best of both worlds. IGTV will last longer than stories and it doesn’t have the risks imposed with Instagram Live. Another plus, longer form videos provide an opportunity for influencers to better connect with their audience. A lot of influencers can seem elusive to their audience when you only know them through images. But videos allows them to share more of their life and personality. And in terms of influencer marketing, IGTV could be a better way for them to explain or showcase products.
So how is IGTV going to benefit the Instagram community? Simply put, Instagram decided to have a place for users to create more engaging content. Videos can be up to an hour long, which is a significant increase from their previous one minute limit. The format is specifically made to be viewed on your phone and, like flipping on the TV, audiences can scroll through channels of creators they follow as well as a ‘Popular’ channel and a ‘For You’ channel. IGTV will thrive with companies such as Buzzfeed or Refinery29 as a space to upload their content since these are channels which are not reliant on any sort of ad revenue but rather reaching the largest audience they can. Another place IGTV will succeed is with “Instagram comedians,” which are a huge genre on the platform – these are pages with millions of followers that create comedy videos that would be too short to upload to YouTube. IGTV gives them a chance to create longer videos in a space where they already have huge audiences.
If IGTV’s goal is simply to allow users to create more engaging content and better connect with their audience, we predict this will be a successful addition to the platform. But, if they want to be seen as a serious competitor to YouTube and draw YouTube creators to the Instagram platform, their business model will need to change. One thing IGTV needs to consider is that most long form creators are going to continue making videos on YouTube, unless Instagram gives them a better reason to come over. Unlike with influencers on Instagram, YouTubers aren’t relying solely on sponsorships to make their income. They make their money passively, from ads that run before their videos. And, as every influencer knows, pitching to brands is a difficult way to make a living. If running ads before IGTV videos is something Instagram will consider, then a lot more YouTubers would consider coming on board.
After Adpocalypse, many YouTubers were left seeking alternative sources of revenue since ads were being taken off their videos for seemingly no reason. And after several mishaps with influencers (ahem, Logan Paul), YouTube has made serious efforts to keep content within strict guidelines. However, these efforts have unfortunately caused the demonetization of small channels. Larger channels, like Philip DeFranco and H3H3, have been very vocal about their disapproval of certain YouTube regulations and have welcomed competition to YouTube that might cause the platform to step up its game when it comes to the way they treat their creators.
YouTube knows that if Instagram truly wants to compete, they will make it happen. Just look at what happened to Snapchat after the introduction of Instagram Stories. And, YouTube is fearful. Where creators go, their audiences go, and where the audience goes, brands will go. Perhaps this is why it’s been speculated that they have tried to ensure their content creators’ loyalty by paying YouTubers up to six figures to upload their content to YouTube first before any other platform. But, will this be enough? Influencers want to be where they can find the most success. Their loyalty lies with their followers, not the platform they post on.
To get more perspective on the issue, we asked YouTuber and founder of collegeinfogeek.com, Thomas Frank, who has over one million subscribers, his thoughts on IGTV as a competitor to YouTube: “I absolutely see IGTV as a YouTube competitor…IGTV is fighting for the same thing YouTube is – the long-term attention of the largest possible user base. But they’re embracing their mobile-first roots and bringing something to the table that YouTube isn’t known for. I see it as a great thing for the industry, as competition is almost always a good thing for consumers.”
The future of IGTV is up in the air. For now, brands will stay curious as influencers continue to experiment with its true potential. There is no question that this new feature will be something to keep an eye on when it comes to influencer marketing. But, to be a giant in the space of long form video, Instagram will need to make efforts to make their business model closer to that of YouTube. As for now, it appears IGTV is a great space to upload extra content, behind the scenes, etc. The question is, will this be enough to keep IGTV relevant?
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