Sahail Ashraf posted on 14 May 2019
Instagram TV (IGTV) was never a bad idea. It was simply an idea that made sense initially, but very quickly found itself reliant on user numbers. Without millions of users, it is threatening to go the same way as other failed platforms. It needs people to visit it and engage with it.
That is where the problem lies. IGTV has not seen the fast growth that the brand wanted. But recent developments have served to show the sheer determination Instagram has.
Instagram released IGTV as a standalone app last year. It had plenty of features that looked amazing on paper, but have hardly proven to be anything but. For one thing, it is a platform that works only on vertical video. Instagram obviously saw that people responded better to vertical video on their smart devices. When you watch an IGTV video, it does indeed look amazing and made for devices.
Videos on IGTV have been granted a run time of up to ten minutes. This gave marketers a little room to express themselves. This is actually one of its key selling points. It was a direct commitment to the app by Instagram. The whole project was designed to get the most out of video for smart devices.
The IGTV thing really hasn’t set the world on fire. And Instagram is determined to deal with that problem. So it’s decided to offer users of Instagram even more opportunities to be in front of IGTV.
Some IGTV videos have been placed in the Explore tab in the Instagram app. This was a direct push, and when this strategy first came along, it felt a little intrusive. Remember that this was promotion of an app that didn’t really have even the beginnings of a solid user base.
Instagram has also worked hard to display banners and notices in-app, that point back to IGTV. So it’s not like it hasn’t been trying to win new users for IGTV. It obviously hasn’t made much of an impact, because Instagram has now decided to push IGTV even more aggressively.
Now, previews of IGTV videos will show up in normal Instagram feeds. This is a big deal, and it shows that Instagram feels that IGTV needs more exposure. Users will see a preview of a video from people and brands they follow. If they tap on that preview, they’ll be sent to IGTV to watch the whole thing.
This is good news for people who like watching videos, but perhaps not such good news for those who don’t want to be shown snippets of videos all the time.
Getting Instagram previews in front of people via the normal feed is nothing more than marketing. However, if it does anything, it will allow businesses to use IGTV for marketing more readily.
Businesses have to work hard to gain followers on Instagram, but if they have done it, this new direction suddenly seems to make perfect sense. Businesses and brands will be able to gain even more benefit from IGTV. If both parts of the success equation are present, as in prior engagement and quality videos showing up in users’ feeds, it could be a real engagement booster.
The key reason for the new direction is profit-based. Instagram knows that IGTV isn’t getting the kind of numbers it needs, and that means that making a profit on it is a long way off. By exposing users to videos through previews, IGTV should start to build up more of a presence with users.
The good news is that IGTV is still relatively new. But the even better news is that it isn’t being used by most businesses. This still gives, arguably, an early adopter advantage to those businesses that get in now.
Crafting great video content, and then using strong previews in Instagram, should be a surefire route to making engagement stronger. And it’s obvious that Instagram has confidence in IGTV. It’s making its biggest push yet.
To find out why IGTV has been such a disappointment, it’s important to understand why it was seen as an attractive platform when it first came out. The big sell was around vertical video. Instagram knew that high quality vertical video reduces the hassle involved in watching videos on a smartphone. This has not tempted enough businesses to use it though.
The app starts to play videos as soon as it is opened up. This again should have been something that was valuable to businesses. The ‘TV feel’ of instant videos from channels users follow was meant to be more fun for users. But still, businesses weren’t exactly flocking to the platform.
In the end, that’s because IGTV suits some businesses more than others. Visual brands that are able to create videos expertly are at home on IGTV. This means disruptive videos that are perfectly matched to the needs of the audience. This is not easy, and it requires a focused, professional approach. From now on, with the inclusion of previews in Instagram feeds, if your business fits the bill, it’s time to get involved.
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