Instagram has announced that it has surpassed 1 billion users and marked the occasion with the launch of a long-form video app called Instagram TV, which takes it head to head with YouTube.
The new channel offers prolific Instgramers the opportunity to make longer form videos and showcase their skills and, unlike all other video players on the market today, it defaults to portrait rather than landscape, making it much easier on the eye.
Videos can run from 15 seconds to 60 minutes, although the full 60 is available currently only to larger and verified accounts – for everyone else the limit is 10 minutes. Users watch the app through the Instagram or IGTV app and creators can add ‘swipe up’ calls to action.
Within the IGTV app, users also have the option to browse between “For You”, “Following”, “Popular” and “Continue Watching” tabs. Users can also like and comment on the videos.
While the product carries no advertising – for now – it does offer retailers and brands some opportunities to extend what they do on Instagram, which is already proving to be an increasingly popular destination for shoppers.
To showcase how it may be used commercially, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom mentioned in his IGTV launch address two Instagram influencers already using IGTV: LaurDIY, who is using it to post her DIY how-to videos, and King Bach sharing his latest comedy skits.
For brands, Systrom outlined how existing Instagram store operator Everlane is using IGTV to offer an insight into ‘Canadian Tuxedos’ – but it appears to be a strung together version of its existing Instagram post.
Publisher National Geographic – which is currently the largest non-celeb brand on Instagram – is also using IGTV to share one episode of its excellent TV show “One Strange Rock”. At 47 minutes this is the longest item on IGTV at launch.
However, this is just the start. Retailers and brands should eye IGTV with interest as it offers them a whole new dimension to how they can engage tracts of younger customers not only on the social site du jour, but with rich and compelling content that augments their other marketing channels.
Unboxing videos, ‘how to..’ guides and more are all likely to be areas that retailers and brands can look to exploit with IGTV – they can also leverage third parties doing the same for them on IGTV, much as they do on Instagram and other social sites.
While IGTV won’t yet be carrying adverts, the content that retailers and brands create can be better than adverts for their Instagram channel proper and for their website – remember, users can swipe up to access your site.
The move by Instagram builds on the launch earlier this year of its Shop Now feature to business accounts in the UK, as well as Germany France, Italy Brazil, Canada, Spain and Australia. The feature allows users to tap tags and see prices, then link through to the retailer’s website, with the help of a brand new “Shop Now” button. Previously, users would have been directed to a ‘Link in bio’ – disrupting the user journey.
The move comes after a successful trial in the UK with Marks and Spencer, which has 760,000 followers on the site and sees huge potential in allowing shoppers to buy from what they see there.
Already, M&S has been joined by Top Shop, New Look, Screwfix, Miss Selfridge and River Island in offering the Shop Now buttons and leading eCommerce platform provider Shopify also now supports Instagram Shop Now for its retail and brand customers.