Getting Started with IGTV

January 24, 2019

Getting Started with IGTV

Article image

IGTV is Instagram’s long-form video platform designed for mobile use. Its longer videos and creator culture draw more of comparisons to YouTube, but IGTV’s vertical-only approach and discovery features make it stand out as a unique platform full of opportunities for creators and brands.

IGTV Fast Facts

  • Full-screen vertical video only
  • Videos are between 15 secs and 10 mins and verified users can upload videos as long as one hour
  • Upload using desktop or mobile
  • Cannot record within IGTV
  • Available with the IGTV app or within the Instagram app
  • Videos remain on your channel until deleted
  • No ads yet

When you’re in IGTV, a video is always playing. To browse, simply swipe through the videos at the bottom of your screen, an act reminiscent of flipping through TV channels. IGTV encourages users to discover new content by offering four sections for browsing: For You, Following, Popular, and History.

How to Create an IGTV Channel

Before you can upload a video to IGTV, you have to create a channel. If you already have an Instagram account, you’re actually almost there—you’ll just use your Instagram account and username to create the IGTV channel. This step can be done on desktop or mobile. Open IGTV and tap the gear, then choose Create Channel. From here, follow the on-screen prompts.

How to Upload a Video to IGTV

Tap your avatar to navigate to your channel and tap the plus sign. Select your video—remember that it must be between 15 sec and 10 mins for non-verified users. Upon selection, add a title and description to your video and tap Edit Cover to either select a still from your video or choose a custom still from your camera roll. Pro Tip: use a tool like the Canva mobile app to create custom covers for IGTV videos.

Getting Started With Vertical Video

The great thing about vertical video is the ease with which you can shoot on your phone. With the impressive phone cameras available these days, anyone can be a creator. To achieve the best results, however, it’s still best to use a dedicated video camera.

Most video cameras are not built for vertical video. One way to address this is to physically rotate the entire camera when shooting. Another option is to shoot with the consideration that you’ll be cropping it later. Ensure that important information is not spanning the width of the frame. Also consider vertical subjects, like people!

Whether you shot your video using a video camera or are editing an existing video for IGTV, you’ll need software to crop the video to a 9:16 aspect ratio. Desktop applications like Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects, and Filmora are up to the task.

IGTV Video Best Practices

IGTV has a lot of flexibility and therefore a lot of possibilities. With plenty of options, it’s good to keep some best practices in mind.

Production Value
IGTV is a great spot to deepen the connection with your audience with behind-the-scenes and supplementary content that’s off-the-cuff and fun. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take the time to ensure a quality video. Using proper equipment like an external microphone and adding polish like title treatments can take your videos to the next level. A great example of this balancing act is this Netflix video of the Riverdale cast reciting pickup lines in a “Charm Battle.”

All IGTV users can upload videos between 15 seconds and 10 minutes. Larger and verified accounts can upload videos lasting up to an hour. However, just because you can, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Consider the limitations of Instagram’s other features. Stories max out at 15 seconds and in-feed video can be up to one minute. To take advantage of IGTV’s features without boring viewers, the sweet spot is typically around 2-5 minutes. Keep an eye on your IGTV insights too. They’ll tell you how long viewers are watching before swiping away—which is valuable information that can inform strategy for future videos.

Titles and Captions

It’s important to consider that mobile videos are often watched on the go, and users don’t necessarily have their sound on. One way around this is to create content that doesn’t require sound, such as a Tasty-style recipe video that has important information written out in title form.

For videos in which people are speaking, it’s ideal to caption your videos to maximize viewership and keep content accessible. Note that IGTV does not currently offer closed captioning. This process can get a little tricky, but you can use tools like Amara and Zubtitle to help out.

IGTV for Marketers

Add Links

A common complaint from marketers about Instagram captions is that you’re not able to add links. With IGTV you can. Just paste your link and easily direct customers right to your landing page.

Promote IGTV with Stories

Create a teaser for your IGTV video with a preview in Instagram Stories. Include text inviting users to check out your IGTV channel for the rest of the video. If you have verified account or a business account with over 10,000 followers, you also have the ability to add links to your Instagram Stories. When adding a link, one of the options is to add a link to an IGTV video.

Use Hashtags

Instagram is the platform most suited for hashtags, and IGTV is no exception. IGTV videos will show up when a user is browsing or following a hashtag. Take advantage of this feature by adding hashtags to your IGTV video description. More on hashtags here!

The first step in getting familiar with IGTV is to open the app and start watching videos. The discovery features make it easy to browse content when you’re not sure what you’re looking for. Take time to consider what kind of content you want to create, and figure out what equipment you need to make that happen. While still casual and off-the-cuff, IGTV takes more thought and planning than Instagram Stories does. The effort can be well worth it, however, as IGTV offers a unique opportunity to connect with users and form a community around your brand.

Caryn Tayeh

Caryn Tayeh is a freelance writer whose specialties include tutorials, content marketing, and video production. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading books by women she admires, researching social media trends, and tweeting about #TheBachelor.