written by
Lars Stark
Lars Stark
Social Media

One Year of Instagram TV: What brands need to know

One Year of Instagram TV: What brands need to know

Instagram TV (IGTV) turns one this month: A good time to take stock and have a look at what the photo platform’s new feature offers. Lars Stark, Managing Director of the Berlin creative agency Buddybrand, explains how IGTV now contributes to the marketing mix, what start-ups should consider when implementing campaigns and what we can expect to see from IGTV in the future.

Lars, how has IGTV developed since its launch?

IGTV remains the only channel that offers full-screen, mobile-only vertical video. It may sound a little wordy, but it describes the video app quite well. As Instagram was born on the mobile, it has always been a smartphone native. So the vertical video format fits perfectly. Compared to the story function, which all social media channels offer, IGTV hasn't yet quite established itself among fans or creators. Nevertheless, it’s worth taking a look at the format. Since its release, Instagram has sought to increase the popularity of the application through implementing new features and improving visibility. For example, the platform recently introduced a small, yet highly effective change to allow users to post 60-second previews of their IGTV content direct to their feeds. Thanks to this new feature, many channels are able to increase their views tremendously. Additionally, Instagram recently announced that the application will be optimized for viewing videos in landscape format.

What kind of companies and start-ups are best suited to IGTV?

IGTV is ideal for any company or start-up that wants to be a pioneer and really stand out from its competitors. This is particularly true in the beauty and food sectors, where brands come across in a completely different way using the longer format. Traditionally, these two industries have been reliant upon visual media and have been at the forefront of using Instagram for marketing purposes. Companies operating in other industries need to look more specifically at which concepts can work well for them. It is important to always be aware of the exact message you wish to convey and how you can how you can translate that into video.

What do companies need to consider when doing IGTV?

The most important thing to understand is that IGTV is consumed just like a Story. Users swipe and see what appeals to them. That’s why, like with Stories, it all depends on the first three seconds. If I see something that interests me, I keep watching. This has to be built into the production. In 30 or 60-second films for TV there's a completely different level of suspense. Often when I watch TV, I am not watching actively and tend to tune out. But on IGTV I’m active because I am swiping through the content. To ensure a video receives views, brands should aim to attract attention and immediately make it clear what the added value is for the consumer. It’s also a good idea to think in terms of formats and episodes. For example, you could create a series of short episodes released daily. Regular content offers users a reason to follow - and binds them to the brand’s IGTV account.

Can you think of any brands which are really rocking IGTV?

I find the channels from streaming giant Netflix or the online beauty store Sephora to be highly successful. If you take a look at what certain personalities do on IGTV, you will also find some good examples. The “Daily Ripke” by Paul Ripke, for example: Since the start of the year the photographer's followers have been able to participate in his life on a daily basis. 10-minute clips on IGTV showcase his work, friends and how he spends his free-time. Similarly, a team produces the behind the scenes looks for top model Lena Gercke, which allows fans to participate in her life and work through IGTV.

Do you see the future of IGTV as a performance channel or as a branding tool?

Similar to Instagram’s feed and Stories, IGTV can operate successfully as both a brand building tool and as a performance channel. On the one hand, the video app naturally offers excellent opportunities to build your brand through aesthetically pleasing content. As aforementioned, the beauty and food sectors would therefore be advised to invest more money in producing high-quality content for the portrait format. On the other hand, the performance aspect of the channel is becoming increasingly clear since influencers are responsible for creating branded content and integrating links.

From Stories to IGTV. Which tool awaits us next and where will this journey lead us?

I strongly expect that more and more platforms will integrate Augmented Reality (AR), bringing user experience and the real world even closer together. AR allows immersive branding and unparalleled brand experiences beyond the smartphone. April this year saw the launch of Snapchat Scan and we have already seen some impressive examples of brands using the feature, for example the collaborations with HBO or Nike to the SXSW. Since Snapchat’s features have been repeatedly copied by other major players, (Facebook started experimenting with AR ads for advertisers last summer) it’s only a matter of time before Augmented Reality becomes more widely available.