April 2, 2019Published by: Kieran Moriarty

Will IGTV be the one to watch in 2019?

When Instagram launched IGTV – a new standalone vertical video app – last summer, there were expectations it would be a game-changer for video content. Nearly a year on and we're still waiting to see if Instagram can turn it into a Stories-like success, with uptake from both users and brands still relatively low.

Back in November, Battenhall’s Instagram Brands 100 report noted that after an initial surge in brands trying out IGTV, many abandoned the feature due to lack of use among wider audiences. Our research showed that of the 100 top-performing brands on Instagram, just 13% were posting to IGTV weekly, while nearly a quarter (24%) weren’t using it at all.

However, that could all be set to change.

In February, Instagram announced that IGTV would be integrated with the main feed. The update meant that when an account you follow posts a new video to IGTV, a clip will automatically appear in your news feed, complete with a link to watch the full video in IGTV. You may have noticed these videos on the feeds of some of your favourite accounts, marked by a TV icon in the top-right corner of a post.

The move has been considered a strong-arm tactic by Instagram to coax users into using IGTV more widely. The main feed integration now appears to have partially solved this issue through improving the user journey. As a result, brands are finally starting to gain some traction on IGTV.

 

On the rise

One brand where it’s evident is The Guardian. In contrast to other mainstream media, it has one of the more innovative accounts on social, particularly when it comes to video. Despite having only posted six videos on IGTV, the impact of the main feed integration can be seen when comparing two examples of similar content it has published.

Prior to the main feed integration, The Guardian used Stories to publish ‘explainer’ pieces on a hot topic. But since the turn of the year, The Guardian has migrated these type of videos to IGTV on the basis that the medium is better suited to hosting longer-form content.

In January, before the integration, @guardian posted its first video of this type on IGTV, entitled ‘What connects the Pope and the pill?’ This content has so far generated 37.7k views and 14 comments – not a bad return for an account with 1.7m followers. But in March, the account posted its second ‘hot topic’ IGTV video, this time focusing on the anti-vaxxer movement. With the main feed integration now in place, the video has to date racked up more than 300k views and 757 comments.

Obviously a variety of factors – from the news agenda to time of posting – must be considered when comparing figures, but it’s hard to dispute that the main feed integration has significantly boosted viewership of this type of content. It’s a similar trend for other brands using IGTV.

Adidas was an early adopter of IGTV and has become a pioneering brand in its use of the format. In March, the sportswear giant published four successive IGTV posts, reflecting a clear commitment to the feature. Adidas’ main rival, Nike, has copied this strategy, posting four of its own IGTV videos over the same period, despite previously posting far less video content than its rival. A quick glance at the viewing numbers for both accounts shows that IGTV videos have in general had far more views than standard video content posts – in Adidas’ case four to five times more.  

 

IGTV lift-off?

It’s important not to get carried away with a small sample of evidence from three brands, but it’s difficult to ignore the changes in content strategy, and the numbers generated, since the main feed integration. It could be just a matter of time before beauty, fashion and retail brands get on board and begin pushing their video content on IGTV. Once that happens, IGTV is likely to become the primary method for publishing video content on Instagram, giving the feature the lift-off it craves.

IGTV still has a long way to go towards achieving its ultimate goal – stealing YouTube’s crown as the king of video content. Nevertheless, Instagram looks up for the challenge. With a community of more than one billion users, and steps already being taken to monetise the feature, Instagram has all the key ingredients to make IGTV as much of a success as Stories has become, and in turn, once again revolutionise user behaviour.

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