The Rise of Social Media TV and Vertical Videos

Feb 8, 2019

From photo posts to IGTV, Instagram has come a long way since its inception. It now has more than 800 million monthly active users and many experts believe it could soon reach 1 billion users. The days of reaching your audience with a single photo are long gone–Personalized experiences, advertising, and vertical videos are all a part of the overall way the social media industry is heading.

One of the biggest social media trends since 2018 has been the launch of IGTV by Instagram. It offers a new way to watch and interact with longer videos in a vertical format, perfect for full screen viewing on your smart device. This format offers a new opportunity for brands to reach their audience in a personalized way. Here is everything you need to know about IGTV.


IT’S NOT THE SAME AS STORIES!! When IGTV first debuted, many users thought it was an extension to Instagram Stories, but they have many differences. One distinguishing factor is the life cycle of IGTV. Stories have a short life cycle and disappear after a few hours of public view unless you save them to your Highlights. IGTV videos stay in your channel until you manually delete them. They also differ in how much time is allotted to each entity. Stories are generally limited to 15 seconds while IGTV allows up to 1 hour of video. In a way, you can consider IGTV as a direct competitor to YouTube.

Brands Making a Splash

One of the first brands to experiment with IGTV was Netflix, and in their usual news-making, social media style, they absolutely killed it with their IGTV debut. They launched their IGTV channel with a one-hour long video of Riverdale star Cole Sprouse eating a hamburger. Say what? The video was simply titled “1 Hour of Cole Sprouse Eating a Burger” and was just that – one hour of Cole Sprouse eating a burger. This funny alternative to a traditional trailer advertising a new show garnered over 967K views and over 6.6K comments. Talk about making a splash, maybe not a Birdbox splash, but a splash indeed.

Another brand using IGTV to their advantage is Bacardí. They launched their first toast to long-form video offering fans a chance to tune in to IGTV for a chance to help direct a music video featuring Les Twins. For an entire day, Bacardí used the Instagram poll feature in conjunction with IGTV to have fans vote on angle types, camera shots, locations and possible filters for the Les Twins videos. The music video created with the help of the fans was posted on both Bacardí and Les Twins’ Instagram accounts the following day. Talk about an ingenious way to get the fans not only interacting with the brand but feeling a genuine connection with the brand. Bacardí taking a shot on IGTV certainly paid off in spades.

So now that you know what IGTV is, how are brands using it to their advantage?

Where Should Brands Start?

Brands can take advantage of IGTV in a number of ways: To advertise their products, post vlogs, create tutorials, advertise product reviews, promote interview segments, showcase influencers, and design helpful DIY guides. And considering it’s a social media tool, brands are finding FUN ways to connect with their customers. And that’s what it’s all about – connecting with your consumers in a meaningful way and creating the ever-so-important brand awareness.

Wondering where on earth to get started with IGTV? You’re not alone, here are the steps to getting your IGTV account up and running.

Step 1. The Basics– All IGTV videos, as mentioned above are full-screen VERTICAL videos. Video length ranges anywhere from 15 seconds to 1 hour (1hour videos are restricted to verified accounts only). The video file must be in MP4 format, with a max file size of 3.6GB. If you want to add a video thumbnail or cover image they must be in the .JPG format. Brands have their own IGTV channels, much like YouTube, and can encourage fan engagement by adding “swipe up” calls-to-actions on videos. Videos can be uploaded directly through the IGTV app, the web or Facebook Watch.

Step 2. Viewers – Followers can watch directly through the Instagram app and also within the IGTV app, yes, there’s an app for that. Videos play automatically upon opening IGTV. Followers can like and comment on videos as well as send them to friends via Direct Message. Within the IGTV app, users have the option to browse between “For You,” “Following,” “Popular,” and “Continue Watching” tabs.

So those are the basics! Pretty easy to get going, but as always within social media marketing, be careful what you post! Posting low-quality, low-value IGTV content will not help your brand, it can actually harm it. Just like traditional social media marketing, you need to have a clear strategy as to what the objectives of your videos are, such as who is this speaking to and what purpose does it serve? Viewers will typically engage in content that they consider entertaining or valuable but will remember and penalize brands that do the opposite. That’s where it is truly valuable to consult with a social media expert before jumping in the deep end of IGTV.

IGTV is truly revolutionizing vertical video content, and it makes it easier for the social media savvy people to view your products and services. Whatever your brand, you can drive traffic to your site by adding a link in your videos while having a little fun. Unlike Instagram stories, the engagement with customers on IGTV is more intensive, and you can be certain that your customers will have a better comprehension of your brand’s values and story…if you know how to tell it.

Check out my upcoming blog on “What Brands Need to Know About Successful Storytelling via IGTV.”