If you’ve been scrolling through your Insta-feed over the past few days and managed to drag your eyes away from the hashtag heatwave snaps, you’ll have noticed a new icon at the top of your feed. This little orange and pink spot just above your stories is where you can access Instagram’s latest addition; IGTV. Echoing features of both Stories and YouTube, IGTV marks a major transition to being video-centric. But what exactly is it and what does it mean for your Insta-feed?
What is IGTV?
IGTV, summed up in Instagram’s own words, is “a new app for watching long-form, vertical video from your favourite Instagram creators”. IGTV is basically a platform that supports long-form videos, similar to Instastories, but that can be up to one hour long. Instagram seem to be modelling the app as a hybrid of actual TV and social media – with channels, creators, and liking and sharing between friends. Instagram’s Co-Founder & CEO, Kevin Systrom, describes it: “You can swipe up to discover more — switch between “For You,” “Following,” “Popular” and “Continue Watching.” You can also like, comment and send videos to friends in Direct. Also like TV, IGTV has channels. But, in IGTV, the creators are the channels. When you follow a creator on Instagram, their IGTV channel will show up for you to watch. Anyone can be a creator — you can upload your own IGTV videos in the app or on the web to start your own channel”.
How do I use it?
IGTV is split between the original Instagram app itself and its own new app. If you just want to watch content from the people you follow, you can tap the icon at the top of your feed and search videos, watch as many as you like, and like, comment and share them. There’s no need to migrate to a third party app.
If you fancy trying your hand at creating a video, head to the dedicated IGTV app and begin recording.
Why is it important?
While YouTube has dominated the video world on social media for almost 14 years, Instagram is making a stride to take the crown with IGTV, with a few subtle differences setting it apart from the crowd.
The most interesting feature is the vertical video – you don’t have to rotate your phone to capture optimised video. The app mirrors how we actually hold and use our phones, instead of forcing us to go against that.
The fact that IGTV supports videos up to one hour long is a big development too. Many brands and publishers have already begun to post documentary-style videos on IGTV, using it as a space to share content that is more suited to long-form video, rather than being split up into Insta-story titbits.
The fact that long-form, vertical video is now available on Instagram could mean that vloggers who post largely on YouTube but still have a large Instagram following will migrate their content to IGTV.
These developments are essentially making Instagram a one-stop-shop for all your social media needs. You have the social aspect of liking, sharing and commenting (like Facebook); the visual/ aesthetic facet that Instagram itself is known for; the live sharing of thoughts and everyday life (like on Twitter and Snapchat) through the Stories function; and now the long-form video of YouTube on IGTV. This means that Instagram could, in theory, make other social media apps largely obsolete, by having everything available in one place.
It’s very early days for IGTV and it remains to be seen what its lasting effects will be on the social media world. One thing for sure, though, is that its competitors aren’t going down without a fight.
Less than a week after IGTV was launched, YouTube announced that they were hiring Derek Blasberg, former columnist and editor for Style.com, Harper’s Bazaar and host of CNN Style, to head their new Fashion and Beauty Partnerships Division. The new division is a clear move to compete with Instagram’s hold on the fashion and beauty world on social media, and their extensive partnerships with fashion industry giants.
As well as this, YouTube is still the more popular of the two platforms for younger audiences. According to a recent Pew Center study of teens ages 13 to 17 in the US, 85 per cent said they use YouTube, while 72 per cent said they use Instagram.
It’s doubtful that IGTV will completely overtake YouTube as the primary video platform on social media, but it’s definitely giving it a run for its money.
Image: Instagram Press