IGTV: The New Frontier for Episodic Video Content

June 25, 2018

Instagram made two pretty important announcements last week. 

  • First, they announced they have reached one billion users worldwide. If you or your company's leadership weren't sure whether Instagram had a large enough user base to capture your target audience, you can now rest assured that they probably do. 
  • Second, and more importantly, Instagram announced their newest feature, a new app that allows users to watch and post vertical videos up to 10 minutes long on their new app, IGTV. Highly influential users and major publishers can extend their videos to up to an hour. This is easily one of the more monumental updates made by the company since its founding.
  • IGTV is both a standalone app and is integrated into the existing Instagram platform. It uses vertical videos over portrait to make the viewing experience more "natural" for users. Just like normal Instagram posts, you can comment and like videos and can send videos directly to friends via direct message. Videos are available on "channels," which can be created by anyone with an Instagram account. IGTV is a great opportunity for companies to give their audiences episodic video content.

What is episodic video content?

If you've ever watched an entire season of a show in under a day on Netflix, you've probably encountered a phenomenon known as "binge watching." This is an example of episodic content, where each piece of content has a cliffhanger that makes you want to engage with the next one. Episodic content is actually similar to traditional television. It stretches plot devices (like the journey of a fledgling hero or the fight between good and evil) over a series of episodes, which are released on a consistent basis.  YouTube Creators frequently use episodic content to gain their massive followings by building video content interesting enough to engage their audiences, establish themselves as experts on a topic, and improve their ranking on search sites using SEO. 

While other online media platforms have attempted to develop platforms for episodic video content (Facebook Watch, Snapchat Stories, etc.), none of them have been as successful for non-film/television content creators as YouTube. Your company may already be on YouTube for this reason, as it is fairly common for companies to use YouTube to announce updates on company projects or company values. For example, Boston Dynamics has released a series of videos showcasing the evolution of their autonomous robot systems, capturing the attention of the world every time they release a new video.

Episodic content has clearly shown to be effective when it reaches your target audience. However, YouTube videos are often shared by companies on other social media platforms and are not typically discovered by users unless they are already subscribed to the company channel. This is attributed to the billions of videos already on YouTube, which can drown out video content, and the lack of news feed for users. 

With the announcement of their one billion users, Instagram is the next frontier for episodic video content to a wider, younger audience. Instagram is hoping teens and millennials will pick up IGTV's vertical videos like they picked up Vine, taking a simple idea and making it a worldwide phenomenon. This is an incredible opportunity for branded content marketing through episodic video content because if your company's content is good enough, it can reach significantly larger audiences than most companies would ever have access to. 

How can your company start using IGTV?

If your company is already on Instagram, you may have already attempted to develop shorter video content for using the platform’s previous video requirements.  Your company should begin to develop long-form episodic content that can be released over the course of your media campaigns. Take a look at some of the content that you may have already released on other platforms and ask yourself these questions:

  • Which content campaigns worked well?
  • Which did not?
  • What were the different content marketing strategies that you used to approach each campaign? 

You can also look at episodic content from other companies or creators to get some ideas on where you might start. Keep in mind that your content must be filmed vertically, not horizontally, and that just turning the camera may not be enough to sufficiently recreate amazing content. Finally, once your content is ready, you should be sure to advertise your content on your company's other social media platforms in order to convert your audience to IGTV while your content is being made available - after all, if they don't see it, you might as well have not released it at all. 

If your company is not on Instagram…

IGTV may be the perfect opportunity to incorporate Instagram into your content marketing strategy. Assuming your company has other social media accounts, determine what content campaigns engaged your audience and analyze the content marketing strategies that you used to develop that content. Has your company developed episodic content before? Use the successes and failures of that episodic content to develop new, long-form episodic video content for IGTV.

Keep in mind that your company should also have an active Instagram account in addition to the IGTV channel. You can use the Instagram account to keep your audience up to date on new content, increases your audience through subscribers and followers, and post non-video content that ties into your episodic content on IGTV. You can look at your competitors' Instagram accounts to get an idea of what your account might look like, and watch some of the videos already available on IGTV to see how other creators are using the platform for video content, episodic content, or both. 

In the past, many companies had less success with consumer engagement using branded content on Instagram than on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. They experienced difficulties in transitioning followers from one social media platform to Instagram. With the introduction of IGTV, Instagram is the new frontier for episodic video content that can engage up to one billion people worldwide with the click of a button. 

Want to expand your audience and develop better branded content? Newsology can help your company add IGTV to your content marketing strategy. 

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