On the 20th of June 2018, Instagram launched a new long-form video feature to their platform called IGTV; which allows users to post pre-recorded videos lasting up to 60 minutes. Until now, Instagram users have only been able to post 60-second videos to their pages, so it’s no surprise that the news has got a lot of people talking about the new opportunities.
Plans for the new feature first came about when the company recognised the growth potential in revenue for long-form video advertising and an increasing consumer appetite for video on mobile phones. With this new feature added to Instagram’s app, they will help shape a new generation of content creators, and below are just some of the longer-term implications.
A more positive direction for Facebook?
As Facebook owns Instagram, the new feature could become a useful tool in helping the company move forward after the recent scandals that have befallen the business and Mark Zuckerberg over the past couple years, which saw many users switch to using Snapchat. The long-form video feature will also help hedge the risk associated with Facebook’s plans to launch their original news programmes. If the programmes fall flat, it will almost certainly be mitigated by the undoubted success of IGTV.
Taking on YouTube and Snapchat
YouTube and Snapchat are the platform’s biggest rivals, so it’s no surprise that the powers-that-be at Instagram are looking for new ways of keeping consumers engaged on their platform. Long-form video is an obvious next step to achieving this, but Instagram is not alone. Snapchat have also recently released plans to launch a longer form video on their discovery page, in an effort to appeal to the YouTube creator generation. By creating a space for these super-users on Instagram, the company hopes to be able to encourage media influencers to utilise the platform for third-party marketing and their own video content. The new feature opens up the possibility that media influencers could transition from YouTube to Instagram if the company introduces appealing ways within IGTV for content creators to generate income from the feature.
IGTV holds particular appeals for businesses and content creators as its long-form format increases the opportunity to add value and engage with their audience. We could see fitness profiles producing work out series or even food pages creating recipe cooking videos. It has also been suggested that since the feature will use vertical video which fills the full mobile screen, it will particularly encourage new music content to be featured.
Scripted vs. spontaneous?
Despite Instagram’s feature allowing a maximum of 60 minutes of footage to be upload, it is unlikely that the majority of content will be that long since YouTube’s uploads are typically between 5-20 minutes in length. As you would expect, there has already been much speculation about who will win the battle for content generators, YouTube or Instagram? However, there is equally an argument to be made that the two platforms will inspire distinct types of content, that can co-exist. IGTV will feature more ‘scripted productions’ and will focus to a greater extent on the aesthetics of the content, unlike YouTube; which has a lot of spontaneous, funny content uploaded daily.
One area that will challenge Instagram’s introduction of a long-form video is moderation. How easy will it be for the platform to moderate the content being uploaded when moderators usually only have a few seconds to decide whether a post goes against the site’s terms and conditions? YouTube faces a constant battle to do this and attract criticism regularly over their failings in this area. Developments in AI will undoubtedly help but currently, moderation is a particularly hot topic. With Instagram allowing up to an hour of footage to be uploaded, it could become an impossible task for them.
Regardless of the various challenges facing Instagram over the adoption of long-form video, it will undoubtedly be a great success. After all, it is not a gamble when we’ve all seen the massive success YouTube has had. Perhaps Instagram’s greatest challenge will be how to monetise the feature for themselves and the content generators. Will they follow tried-and-tested approaches, or will they look to be innovative? We will see soon enough…
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