Instagram TV is one of the newer social tools to hit the scene — the latest in a trend toward high quality content and the future of video. Initially greeted with skepticism, greater integrations into Instagram’s primary interface have made IGTV increasingly appealing to marketers.
For many marketers, however, IGTV’s focus on long-form video content remains a puzzle. Few of us are in the habit of creating videos over three minutes, much less in vertical format. But for those interested in driving deeper engagement and sharing visually stunning content, IGTV may be the biggest growth opportunity available right now.
Kara Segedin, Digital Marketing Manager for BBC Earth, is leading her team’s efforts on IGTV. From working with Instagram to prepare for IGTV’s launch to racking up hundreds of thousands of views, she is about as experienced with the fledgling platform as it’s possible to be.
Kara will join us at Spark in November to lead a session all about how to find success with long-form video content on IGTV. In the meantime, we had a chance to sit down with her and get her story as well as her top tips.
Q: IGTV is definitely a trending topic in social right now, but I think a lot of marketers haven’t started using it yet. When did you get started using IGTV? What made you think this was a viable channel for BBC Earth and what were some of your first impressions?
Like most people, my initial thoughts around IGTV were on the skeptical side – do people really want to watch long videos in vertical? Along with several BBC accounts, we were given early access to upload content and had two videos pre-loaded for launch; the famous Snakes vs Iguana clip from Planet Earth II and a 40 minute Oceanscape from Our Blue Planet. The initial release didn’t have the best user interface and the journey was a little cumbersome (two separate apps!), but in February 2019 Instagram integrated IGTV previews into the main feed – this was when it really became a platform of interest for us. With Instagram’s younger user profile we knew this could be another way for us to reach the key under-35 demographic, we trialed a few key pieces of campaign content there and in some cases saw similar views to what we were getting on Facebook. Since then, we are asking for more and more assets to fit with the 9:16 frame.
Q: What were some of your early successes with IGTV? How does your strategy there tie into your other Instagram posting, and social media strategy in general?
Instagram has long been our fastest growing, most engaged and youngest audience, so the success of ‘longform’ clips on IGTV makes it a key element of our global campaigns. The first time we really put efforts into IGTV was for the series Dynasties in late 2018. The show was a real success for BBC Earth and we wanted to try something new in our digital marketing to reach under-35s. Instagram Stories became a campaign priority for us that year and we experimented with 9×16 edits of our premium content releases. The first two clips received solid viewing figures, with the third ‘Lion vs Hyenas’ clip having reached just under 1 million video views. This is still very much an experimental platform for us, but the additional effort appears to be paying off in terms of reaching a young audience.
Q: In general when we talk about video marketing, metrics can get a bit complicated. On IGTV, a view equals 3 seconds — when we’re talking about long-form videos, that’s not very much. How are you measuring success and tracking results?
That is a tricky part of running campaigns through Instagram in general – the reporting is still lacking in detail, particularly compared to the wealth of information we can pull from Facebook, and the same is true for IGTV. On Instagram, we need to be a bit creative in how we evaluate success, and video views is only part of the puzzle. We also track audience growth (particularly the size of our younger audience), sentiment and comments – interactions are incredibly important to us on Feed and IGTV to gage success. We are definitely in the early stages, but hopefully the metrics and audience insight available in Instagram catches up to those of other platforms. I’m optimistic that more data will become available as features like monetization of content on IGTV rolls out around the world.
Q: Who is watching IGTV? I’m curious what sort of research your team has done and how you’re targeting your content for your key demographics. Do you think IGTV has more to offer brands in certain industries or with specific target audiences?
As I mentioned previously, Instagram is notoriously limited with its audience data (for now at least), which makes demographics specific to IGTV difficult to pull out. We are currently working with the knowledge that Instagram as a platform is far and away our youngest reaching and the most engaged.
It’s understandable for brands to see vertical video as a barrier, but it really shouldn’t be. Some industries in particular suit the vertical frame – I’m thinking fashion, beauty, publishing and entertainment – and some of the most creative applications have come from food and beverage companies. There are some industries where the switch won’t be as simple, but the creative challenge of longer-form digital on IGTV (vertical, untested platform) should be seen as a real opportunity to experiment and take risks with your content marketing and what role it can play in your next campaign and how it can interact with the other elements of Instagram.
As with any time a brand experiments with a new platform, you need to make sure your audience is there in the first place. If they are on Instagram, make sure to think about what they are coming to the platform for, what content they are looking to consume or interact with and what other types of accounts are their following. Then you want to think about how this longer form content is going to capture their attention and what message you are wanting to communicate.
Q: What’s your top advice to other brands interested in IGTV? Where should they get started and how should they prioritize their resources?
If your target audience is on Instagram, you should be thinking about how you can add IGTV to your Instagram tool belt. How can feed, Stories and IGTV come together to tell your Brand’s story and reach your audience in the most holistic way possible. Think about the elements of Instagram and how users interact with them. Should you be putting most of your efforts into Instagram stories to grow your audience and reach them on a daily basis? Are feed and IGTV the best place to deep-dive into your brand and aim for more meaningful engagement? All this will flex depending on your brand’s goals and the specifics of your audience.
One of the beauties of IGTV is that once you have tripped up your fans in the feed, you have a relatively captive audience. The frame and format also creates a real sense of intimacy for viewers.
Instagram now allows horizontal videos on IGTV, but unless you’re creating something longer than a few minutes, I’d stick with making your IGTV content in vertical.
It’s still early days for IGTV so test and learn before recommitting your marketing budget or locking down a format. Become familiar with the way it operates and find out where its strengths and weaknesses lie for your brands so when a situation comes up where IGTV is the answer you’re ready and prepared to work it.