InstagramTV has been out for a while now, I’ve been making my fair share of content for it, and what have I learned? Here are the 3 main things that I think need to change for IGTV to stand a chance.
Currently, I make a video, I upload it and it gets seen by a handful of people, this is because its basically just one in a bundle of IGTV posts that are alerting my followers to their existence through the little golden orb in the top right of the screen, with no real way of knowing which of your followers have posted this kind of approach just disengages the user, especially if 99% of the IGTV videos they see first are just complete pants created by their 12yr old cousin or something. This means that only a tiny percentage of them will bother to see the video that way, and I do not blame them.
It’s possible to add hashtags to the description of an IGTV video and they seem to work as expected, but what with the speed of churn on the discover pages for any notable hashtags they are soon gone from there so I tend to find a limited amount of success with that (I have also tried putting the hashtags in the first comment too but didn’t perceive a noticeable increase and if anything it was less engagement.)
I have tried just searching, using the IGTV app for something like ‘Lumix’ (a camera type) and other than users who may have that in their actual instagram name, it didn’t show me anything – and I KNOW that there is a bunch of content being shot on, and no doubt tagged, with Lumix. This search feature just doesn’t behave like the search in, for example, youtube – this is a massive one problem as far as I am concerned.
I am assuming that the random videos I see after I see any made by the people I follow are delivered by an algorithm that is considering a number of things, similarity to the accounts I already follow, popularity and engagement, at least that is what it seems like to me. The issue with this is that I am basically just seeing freebooted videos from youtube or facebook of cars doing burnouts or something from accounts that have already got 50k+ followers, and that is the reason that I assume they have gotten the engagement they have, because of those followers get nagged by the IGTV orb, and a few click it (or accidentally just end up seeing that video first)
For those reasons I think discoverability needs to be improved massively, without it, then the big accounts will remain big and the smaller accounts will remain small, but more importantly, nobody will see video that they necessarily want to see, which means nobody will use this feature.
I saw an account with tens of thousands of followers the other day that had something like 700 views and 3 comments on a amazingly produced cinematic video that was specifically for IGTV, now if those guys can’t get engagement, then I don’t know what chance I have!?
I don’t think anyone is really sure what the point is? Or is that just me? I am choosing to make content that is a little bit more fast and loose than what I may publish on my youtube channel for example, but I’m still putting SOME effort into it, but currently if my anecdotal evidence is to be believed, people don’t tend to watch past the first few seconds of the video and its only my pre-existing followers who ‘might’ see it anyway, and those things being considered, I think we already have a feature in instagram that provides all we need for that… Stories, only they have the bonus of being able to be interactive and have Gifs (they came back!) etc in them, something that, IGTV videos don’t have the functionality to do.
I mean, I get it, its being all edgy and portrait, but it seems that people want to consume things portrait in a more fleeting manner than if they sit down and prepare to watch a video, I’m not besmirching the viewers, I am exactly the same – and I know it sounds silly, but even changing my phones orientation to watch a youtube video in landscape mode is enough of a commitment to watching that video that I’ll stay engaged in it for at least the first few mins (long enough to decide if its actually hot trash or not). But when I am just swiping through instagram TV I’m much more inclined to like swipe to the next video until I’m being shown strangely selected videos not made by people I follow and then just go back to life.
I think they need to figure out what they are trying to do better, are they trying to compete with youtube with ‘just vertical video’ as their differentiator? If that’s all they have in their arsenal, then they need to lower their sights significantly. I however don’t think they are really going after youtube, certainly not now anyway, but I do think they need to figure out, or maybe this bit is more ‘we’ need to figure out, exactly what kind of content they want or indeed, is suited to IGTV. I have been aiming for sub 3 min videos personally and even then, the retention is disgustingly low.
3 The IGTV app
What is the point of this app? I even heard that some people don’t have it in the app store now? Maybe that is because Instagram have come to the same conclusion as me, its totally pointless, Instagram, a platform I’m already using, has literally feature parity with the IGTV app only as a bonus, it has the rest of Instagram too! I mean maybe they are going to add a host of more complex features to the IGTV app that are not available in the ‘normal’ instagram app, perhaps, but certainly at the moment, I am at a loss as to what this app brings to the party, it just seems to confuse things for potential viewers (so, do I need that app or what?). They may as well have waited to release the app until there was a reason or feature that warranted it.
Not being able to edit the description after you’ve uploaded the video. What? Earlier I said that I had experimented with putting the hashtags into the first comment, well, this is because I uploaded a video, wrote a nice long description, pressed done and then realised I had forgotten to add the hashtags! No problem, I’ll just edi… oh no I wont! What rubbed salt into, admittedly not very deep wounds, was that I couldn’t even copy and paste my description out of there, delete the video and upload it again, I’d have had to rewrite it all over again – not the END of the world, but for the 15 seconds of view time to the 6 people who are actually going to discover this video, it just wasn’t worth the stress.
I still have hope for IGTV, I am still making content for it, but I am really REALLY hoping that they have a LOT of updates just round the corner for us, otherwise I am going to find it harder to justify not putting my effort into youtube where results are much MUCH more tangible currently, that or of course, Instagram Stories and Photos, where I still get much more interactions.
Have a great day!