It has often been said that mobile is the new TV. Where in the past our watching habits revolved around the prime time schedule, today many of us prefer to spend our downtime immersed in our smartphones – swiping and streaming our way through a smorgasbord of new and exciting content.

We watch a LOT of video. While we seemingly can’t get enough of the bite-sized social stuff, the enduring popularity of YouTube proves that long-form video will always have its place – as it stands we watch a staggering 1 billion hours of video on the platform every day.

It’s no surprise then that Facebook-owned Instagram has been looking for a way to crack the long-form market. Having conquered the ephemeral space with Instagram Stories back in 2016, last week’s IGTV launch has created YouTube’s first serious competitor.

With Instagram’s signature clean user experience and a fresh, millennial-friendly aesthetic, IGTV gives Instagram users the chance to create high-quality, long-form content to be shared across their personal channels.

With episodic, influencer-led TV blowing up on social at the moment, the launch of IGTV gives brands a new opportunity to reach and engage audiences in a polished yet authentic way. The platform is already proving a hit with influencers rushing to hit publish on their first video.

As YouTube quakes in its boots, we take a look at the Zuckerberg’s latest offering: what it is, why we love it and how to get it right…

What are we dealing with?

You’ve probably already noticed the orange button sitting top-right in Instagram, but given that IGTV has its own standalone app, it’s best if we think of it as an entirely new channel.

Instagram’s co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom agrees and had this to say about the launch:

“IGTV is different in a few ways. First, it’s built for how you actually use your phone, so videos are full-screen and vertical. Also, unlike on Instagram, videos aren’t limited to one minute. Instead, each video can be up to an hour long. Like TV, IGTV has channels. But in IGTV, the creators are the channels.”

IGTV allows creators to publish content between 15 seconds and 1 hour long. Content from followed accounts starts playing as soon as the user opens the app – with options to swipe, discover and send videos to friends.

With brands and influencers already competing for user attention, the responsibility to make content beautiful and interesting lies with its creators.

How are brands using it?

IGTV gives brands the chance to create an in-depth and engaged viewing experience: one-off show pieces, exclusive behind-the-scenes content, social TV episodes and even ambitious short films.

There’s also the opportunity to repurpose existing long-form content – converting high-performing YouTube videos, for example. This is a great option for toe dippers who may not know where to start creating something new.

Brands should also be looking to create content with carefully chosen influencers – seeding quality content across multiple influencer feeds to make their presence known to platform users.

What about getting a bit more creative? In a campaign being launched today, Bacardi has cleverly adopted a holistic approach, prompting Instagram Stories users to vote on elements of a Les Twins music video which will premiere on IGTV.

Creation, not documentation

So, things to avoid…

First and foremost, IGTV is not a place to put quick, Stories-style content. Perfect for capturing a moment in time, Stories is amazing at what it does – giving brands the chance to experiment and show off their more playful, human side. Keep brief, casual snippets of content there where they belong and use IGTV as your base for more slick, creative content.

Secondly, it’s important to launch with a clear idea of your strategy and a real understanding of your audience. You want to demonstrate that you know exactly what they want out of your IGTV channel and that you’re not just publishing content for the sake of it.

Should YouTube be worried?

The question on everyone’s lips: what’s Zuckerberg’s game plan? First he came for Snapchat with Stories. Next he took on eBay with Marketplace. He’s set his sights on LinkedIn with Workplace. Should YouTube be worried?

They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery but we can safely assume that YouTube will now be looking to protect its offering. With its devoted army of watchers and influencers, the streaming giant is safe for now – and we believe that the two platforms could actually complement each other nicely.

Being the social nerds we are, we’re beyond excited about the opportunities being created by IGTV and have already been working on some great content for the TUI Group.

With any new channel, getting your strategy defined and your content created early doors is pivotal in generating positive awareness in the long term. We can help you develop the perfect plan for IGTV – defining content themes, publishing plans and creating content from day one. Stay tuned for more IGTV insights…