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Last week Instagram made a big move into the video space with the launch of IGTV, a new Instagram feature and stand-alone app for watching long-form, vertical video content that's up to sixty minutes in length. With Instagram hitting 1 billion global users, IGTV is a mobile-first video viewing experience with a built-in audience–making it poised to compete with more established video platforms like YouTube.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how IGTV works and a look at the early opportunities this new content format offers:

How it works:
IGTV is both a stand-alone Apple and Android app, and a function within the Instagram app experience. As a user, you can view content on Instagram or discover a wealth of IGTV-only content on the dedicated IGTV app. If you're a creator, you'll need to download the IGTV app to upload content to your IGTV channel.

Key features:
Unlike the casual and ephemeral nature of Instagram Stories, IGTV content is meant to be pre-recorded and uploaded to the platform, creating an opportunity to share edited or produced video content that provides a more polished viewing experience for audiences.

Some essential functionality to know:

  • Video viewing is simple, with content auto-playing as soon as the IGTV app opens or a user accesses the feature on Instagram. So far, there is an emphasis on showcasing IGTV content from creators that you already follow on Instagram.
  • Similar to YouTube videos, IGTV uploads have video titles and descriptions associated with them that allow creators to include links.
  • Users can engage on IGTV through comments, likes, and shares, which appear below the video much like comments and likes on an Instagram photo. Unlike Instagram Stories, comments and shares are public and visible to any viewer.
  • IGTV makes it super easy to stay engaged with video content–if you leave the Instagram app in the middle of watching a video and then re-enter the app, the video will pick up right where you left off. You can also browse other videos to watch while viewing an IGTV video.

Early opportunities:
Influencers have been quick to experiment with the new content format, with seasoned video creators diving in with exclusive content for IGTV, and newbies creating videos for the first time thanks to IGTV’s ease of use and built-in audience.

Here are some early content trends we’ve spotted:

  • Event Coverage: Whether it’s behind the scenes at an awards show, a music festival, or the runways of Fashion Week, major tentpole events are captured by IGTV without the time limits of the Stories feature or the "anything can happen" risk of Instagram Live.
  • Tutorials & How To’s: Lifestyle and Fashion bloggers who don't have established YouTube channels have been looking for an opportunity to develop their video capabilities, and IGTV gives them the perfect platform to do so–with beauty content being a natural place to start. For traditional beauty creators who’ve already mastered YouTube, IGTV allows them to connect with their Instagram audiences in a new way, and they’ll have a head start when it comes to filming and editing skills.
  • IGTV “Shows”: Themed shows and video series’ have long been a staple of the YouTube community, but IGTV provides another medium for creators to extend their work and try out new formats. Whether it’s a home and design how-to, a cooking demo, or a beauty routine–creators can bring their Instagram fans into their world through IGTV.

Will Taylor, the creative consultant and interior designer behind Bright Bazaar shared his initial thoughts on the new app:

“I’m excited to be able to use IGTV as a way to create longer form and less transient content through which my audience will not only continue to get to know me better, but also have access to an ever-growing pool of intimate and personalized design, travel, and style inspiration, that will be delivered to them as part of a richer and more engaging content experience.”

Instagram is placing big bets on vertical video with the launch of IGTV and influencers are currently playing around with the new content format to test where it fits into their content mix–we’re excited to keep an eye on how the new medium develops!