At this stage, if you don’t know what Instagram is, you’ve been hiding under a very large, very heavy rock. IGTV, on the other hand, is a relatively new toy for all us overgrown children – sorry I meant business people – to play with. Touted as the one to rival YouTube, Instagram’s video streaming channel is still very much in its infancy. That’s setting it a very tough task, so we’ll put that heavily weighted assertion to one side for the time being. It’s important to remember that the main benefit is the built-in audience it provides. Even if you only have 100 followers on the platform, with the right hashtags you can increase your reach massively.
The benefits of Instagram’s IGTV
Getting in on the ground floor of IGTV has some great benefits. As a new platform, it is woefully underused so for once on social you will be one of the few voices in the room. This will increase your potential reach because there are more people watching than there are creating. Instagram is also pushing the platform, meaning that you will essentially have their backing.
As a mobile-only platform, it has a certain appeal for audiences. Not being on desktop removes it one step from where most people do their work, meaning the engagement is motivated by an individual desire. This is incredibly valuable for brand awareness; you’re gaining an audience that willingly spends their downtime watching what you produce. So we’re going to talk you through some basic steps to get you up and running.
What content works on IGTV?
When choosing the type of content needed for your channel, the temptation to throw up all the old videos just to put something, anything, on there is futile. IGTV is a vertical video platform and for the last few years, we’ve all been busy creating videos for the horizontal style dictated by YouTube and propagated by other social channels. It’s one of the reasons that IGTV hasn’t been bombarded with content yet, because people need to take the time to create for the platform. It’s a bold decision from Instagram, but it’s paying off in spades. The quality of content is vastly improved just by the necessity to update before you upload.
Now you know what style to use, and you’ve framed your shot accordingly. Next, you need to decide what it is you’re saying. Businesses on social media should always be saying something helpful, for a couple of very strong reasons. Firstly, most people have adapted to online advertising and learned to tune it out. Your message will get lost amidst the flashing sale icon and the pop culture gifs.
Yes, people may see it. But as the information won’t be absorbed you are essentially wasting your time. Secondly, providing useful information will make people like you! The more they like you, the higher the potential for future paid interactions simply because they are willing to listen.
How to prepare IGTV content
Work toward establishing yourself as an expert in your field. How-to videos are among the most watched content online and are well worth your time. So sit down, have a think about what you do on a day to day basis, and jot down some ideas. What are some questions you’ve Googled yourself? Who is your target audience and what are some questions they might have? If you’re in accounting, consider a basic video explaining how quick and easy it is to claim tax back. This won’t detract from your revenue, but it will build a certain amount of brand recognition. In web design? How about an explainer video about how to grab the coolest fonts, or some interesting iPhone hacks that not enough people know about.
It’s not too difficult, and you don’t even have to show up on camera if you really don’t want to. But it does help, and remember that if you’re producing the video, you get to pick the angle, so you can hide that uninvited pimple or shirt stain and only show your good side if that’s what you want. Instagram is often jokingly referred to as a stream of selfies. There is some truth to that, with content containing faces getting 38% more engagement. So put yourself in the shot!
Some ideas for your IGTV topics
IGTV is also a great opportunity for some behind the scenes footage. Everyone likes a sneak peek at what is considered to be a private space. There are a few simple ways to do this. You could do a quick guided tour of the office – showing people where you work is relatable and if you have any office quirks, don’t be afraid to share them. You never know what will grab your IGTV audience. For instance, at Engage HQ, we have a lot of air terrariums, so our Instagram channel has more than a few followers who are obsessed with miniature plants.
Hosting an event? Whether it’s a swanky industry night or a training meeting, it’s a great opportunity to gather some simple but fun footage of your staff. Have some preset questions ready, and enjoy the variety of answers you get. This shows that there are people behind the product, lending your business a human face. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, anyone featured in your videos should be 100% willing. So no posting footage of people filmed from behind a bush!
Running a quality IGTV channel
Here are my top tips and tricks for running a good IGTV channel!
- Post a link to your website in the description section of your video. Instagram has traditionally been stingy when it comes to space for links, so take full advantage and make sure you put one with every upload!
- Make use of the handy analytics provided. At Engage Content, we’ve chosen not to set up our Instagram page as a business (because it limits organic reach) and so our access to analytics is limited. However, with IGTV you can see your audience retention rate, and figure out how what is and isn’t working.
- #Hashtags! Knowing your relevant hashtags, and how they work, is a great step toward building your audience. Include a few in your video description. Take a look at this helpful info the three-tiered hashtag approach from Riotly.
- Check out what other people are up to! Find a relevant hashtag and watch a few of the attached videos, gain some insight into what is being said. It could help you figure out what is missing from the market, and at the very least will help prevent you from repeating what is already being said.
- Post on a weekday for the best engagement, and make sure that any product/sales pitch accounts for no more than 20% of your post. Unless they’re truly beautiful, people will resent being inundated with advertisement and will hit the unfollow button.
- Keep your video to a reasonable length. 2-3 minutes is ample time to get across a key message, any longer and you run the risk of losing your audiences attention.
With 1 BILLION active users, Instagram is a must for any business looking to the future!
(Here’s how I access those helpful insights I mentioned in the list above)
My advice for making your first IGTV video
You can use your phone to film because it already creates vertical footage! There is the added benefit that as it’s destined for a mobile-only platform, your footage will be ready to upload directly from where it was filmed, without any MP4/MOV conversion messing required.
These are the guidelines published by Instagram for IGTV:
- Video length: Between 15 seconds and 10 minutes long (except large and verified accounts)
- Video file type: Videos must be in MP4 file format
- Video resolution and size: Vertical (not landscape) with an aspect ratio of 9:16. Videos should have a minimum frame rate of 30 FPS (frames per second) and a minimum resolution of 720 pixels.
- Video file size: 650MB (large and verified accounts can go up to 3.6GB)
When making videos for IGTV in our office, we use a range of different tools. Some easy online editing tools that you could use without needing any experience are Powtoon, Animoto, and Lumen. You could, of course, use an app directly on your phone. Top favourites would be Apple iMovie, GoPro Quik or Videoshop. For more advanced work, we use Premiere Pro and After Effects, but that’s a different blog for a different day. Check out some of our videos (below) and let us know your thoughts!
My top recommendations for creators to follow
For inspiration on what can be achieved with a simple background and recurring theme, we recommend @SoYummy! You’ll be craving delicious treats about 30 seconds into the first video, but you can learn a lot from their style.
If you have a creative business, you should follow @Tortus. He’s a ceramic pottery dream. Working again with a simple set up, without narration, his videos are almost hypnotic.
For a look at the vast array of possibilities, head to @NatGeo and @Nasa. National Geographic is the first to release a feature-length video designed for the platform. At 48 minutes long, this is a beautifully shot documentary narrated by Will Smith. Nasa does some excellent explainer videos, where the footage isn’t always perfect but we want to hear what they are saying.
For B2B users we highly recommend… ourselves! Head to the @EngageContentDublin channel for some tips and tricks of the industry, and pick up some pointers for your own channel!