Since its humble beginnings in 2005, YouTube’s attracted over 2 billion monthly users, who upload 500 hours of content to the platform every minute. Let that sink in for a moment.
When another platform is excelling, it’s only a matter of time before a certain social media titan gets in on the action…Enter Instagram with IGTV!
It reminds me of the time Snapchat introduced face filters and the user numbers exploded all over again, with people desperate to see what they’d look like as a dog, a cute rabbit or my personal favourite, a piece of bread. Snapchat aside, we now have two of the biggest platforms competing for the top spot when it comes to video content… so who’s the king of the castle?
Before we delve any deeper, it’s really important to remember that YouTube has a thirteen-year advantage here and established itself as a video-only platform from the start; unlike Instagram, which was designed to offer quick snapshots of your life through photos when it emerged back in 2010.
So, is IGTV a real threat to YouTube?
IGTV didn’t get the engagement is was aiming for when it first launched, with many of its original creators bailing after only a couple of videos and heading back to their beloved YouTube. Which left people asking what went wrong. No matter how big the influencer, they were struggling with a couple of key factors:
Directing people to the video
Regular users of Instagram will know that you can now show a one minute preview of your IGTV video on the grid to appear in people’s feeds, however, this wasn’t always the case. The trouble was, using a photo to promote a video that appeared elsewhere on the app, which you had to scroll and search for, to then be taken out of the app from contained links, made the user journey messy, to say the least.
Having to learn a new set of audience behaviours
If you thought you knew your audience and had worked out when they were most likely to engage with your content, then think again. You might have had 5,000 followers online at eleven o’clock on a Monday morning who would chuck you a cursory like over a coffee break, but they wouldn’t be sticking around to watch a ten-minute video of you harping on about your favourite albums from 2008 in this short gap. Trial and error (or studying your analytics if you had a business page) was the only way to work out when this elusive bunch were using the app for the biggest chunk of time and would likely dedicate their attention to something longer.
Long-form video on a fast-paced platform
Tying into the problem above, people weren’t accustomed to this new way of using Instagram. Personally, I go to Instagram for a quick hit of inspiration, updates from my friends or (if I’m being really honest) memes, but I’d head to YouTube for a tutorial or a vlog when I have time to kill or need information. Instagram is known for its instant nature, so trying something so different was always going to be a risk for them at the start.
Sharing their hard-work
Portrait-only video made IGTV content notoriously difficult to edit and share. If you open a portrait video using most editing software (even one as simple as iMovie), it’ll whack some black negative space on either side and turn it into a landscape video. Not only did this look, well… rubbish, it also meant you’d struggle to use your carefully curated content on any other platform. Unlike YouTube, you also needed to sign into Instagram to view a video, so if someone didn’t have the app, you didn’t get the view.
So, IGTV is doomed, right?! Wrong.
Since its lacklustre start, Instagram have listened to the complaints and massively stepped up their game. As of May 2019, you can upload and watch videos in landscape. WIN! Your audience can watch a one-minute preview of your video with a super handy “Keep Watching in IGTV” button offered at the end. WIN! And, the analytics have got a hell of a lot better, so you can easily work out who’s watching when. WIN!
While die-hard YouTubers have remained loyal to their platform, what about people new to the scene? YouTube is big, but it’s so big now that your chance of getting your content seen seems to be getting smaller by the day, no matter how specific your tags are.
Enough about influencers, what about businesses?
You may have noticed that as a business, we’re favouring IGTV at the moment, and there’s a method to what might seem like our madness. Your social media pages should exist to do a few things for your business: spread brand awareness, make you accessible to clients/customers, show the heart of your business and showcase why you’re the best at what you do. It’s essentially your showreel. Our aim with IGTV is to make short, informative and educational videos which let people know who we are and why they’re in safe hands working with us.
At the end of the day, I’m unsure if proper long-form video on Instagram will ever overtake YouTube. That’s partly due to the fact that Instagram’s desktop application still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to UX, and partly due to the fact that users are penalised for having a small following (under 10k you can only post a ten minute video, while over 10k you get up to an hour of air time).
I’ll continue to post my personal long-form vlogs to YouTube, but professionally, I’d encourage businesses to explore what IGTV has to offer. Chances are, you’ve already got a bigger following on Instagram than YouTube, so don’t direct people away from the platform they’ve chosen to follow you on – utilise the attention you already have!