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July 16, 2020
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Need a guide to using IGTV with actual examples and tons of know-how?

If you’re reading this article, chances are you do.

Maybe you’ve been enjoying recent IGTVs from your favourite brands and Instagrammers.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to try your hand at YouTube, but it seemed a bit too overwhelming to figure out a whole new platform.

And while it might have taken a little bit of time to see pick-up from brands and creators, the recent news of in-stream IGTV ads proves that Instagram considers IGTV a serious rival to YouTube.

That’s great news for you, because it means now is a very good time to be thinking about how to use IGTV to your advantage.

Particularly as it’s such a fantastic way to build and deepen connections with your audience.

But you’ve got questions, haven’t you?

Like, what’s the best way to use IGTV?

How does it differ from Stories?

And which brands and accounts are using IGTV in interesting ways?

Keep reading to find out.

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Using IGTV Strategically in 2020

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First things first, let’s do a quick overview of what IGTV is.

Compared to Instagram Stories, IGTV allows you to create and share longer form videos.

Instagram Stories are capped at 15 seconds per “segment” and feed videos are cut off at 60 seconds.

IGTVs, on the other hand, can be 15 minutes long when uploaded via phone and up to 60 minutes in length when uploaded via desktop.

This opens up a world of opportunities for brands and content creators to experiment with content and ideas they might not have considered previously.

And, Instagram recently introduced the ability to save Instagram Lives as IGTVs (hurrah 🙌!).

This further streamlines the content creation process and stops brands and businesses from having to reinvent the wheel and think up new ideas every single time.

So now we’ve covered some of the features and benefits of using IGTV, how do you actually go about developing your own IGTV strategy?

Step 1. Think of a repeatable format/series

Want to know one of the major differences between Stories and IGTV? The style of content.

For example, your Stories can be more candid, rough-and-ready moments from your day, your latest project or recent client work.

That’s not to say Stories shouldn’t have a clear narrative – they absolutely should, as this is key to improving retention rate and keeping your audience engaged.

However, the individual Stories you share throughout the week don’t have to be too prescriptive.

This is where IGTV is a little different.

The best way to use IGTV is to create a repeatable theme and style that your audience can learn to expect with each “episode”.

This will keep them coming back for more, knowing that on a specific day or time every week or month, they can click on your account and tune into your latest IGTV…

… and this works wonders for increasing your Instagram engagement rate and deepening relationships with your audience.

For example, a skincare brand might have two different IGTV series: one that focuses on skincare tutorials and “how tos”, and one that’s about what products suit what skin types and why.

Nasa has a great selection of IGTV series, including: Q&As with NASA astronauts and “What’s Up?”, which shares upcoming celestial events (like shooting stars and comets) for viewers to watch out for.

nasa-using-igtv-strategically-2020

Bonus tip for finding out what IGTV series you should create: Use Instagram Stories as your testing ground for potential IGTV ideas. The fact that Stories disappear after 24 hours allows you to try lots of different styles, formats and topics to see which resonate best with your audience. What ideas keep Story viewers most engaged from beginning to end? What ideas spark the most replies or interactivity? There’s your next IGTV idea.

Step 2. Create your IGTV like it’s a great movie

Now I don’t want you to freak out when you read that headline!

Because here’s the thing: You should be treating ALL video content on Instagram like a great movie…

… or a good book for that matter.

What that means is having a juicy beginning, middle and end to keep people captivated throughout.

But since we’ve already discussed how important format is when it comes to IGTV, I want you to take this “great movie” concept seriously so you see the best results.

To achieve this, I recommend including the following things when you’re storyboarding your next IGTV:

  • Teaser
  • Title screen
  • Compelling introduction
  • 3 – 5 succinct points
  • Call to action

Let’s break these down one-by one.

  • Teaser

Make sure that the first 10-15 seconds of your IGTV is as enticing as it can be to capture people’s attention. You can do this by sharing a juicy snippet of information from later on in the video or posing a common question that you know your audience is asking themselves.

For example, sales coach Katy Prince starts off her IGTV by addressing one of her ideal client’s pain points: Trying “all the things” and giving up right before they see success.

katy-prince-using-igtv-strategically-2020

#SlayerOfTheMic creator Jam Gamble opens her IGTV by talking directly to the viewers “idea”. The one they KEEP putting off in favor of other priorities.

_____________jam-gamble-using-igtv-strategically-2020    

  • Title screen

Once you’ve hooked people in with your teaser, now’s your chance to share a title screen that tells people what they’re watching. Aligning your title screen to the topic of the IGTV and your Instagram aesthetic builds brand awareness and trains people to get excited whenever they see that you’ve shared a new IGTV.

Note for IGTV beginners: A title screen isn’t a make-or-break element of your IGTV. Making sure your IGTV has a compelling beginning, middle and end is more important, so work on nailing that before worrying about a title screen.

  • Compelling introduction

Depending on how succinct your teaser is, you might find that your intro is part of the IGTV’s 1-minute “preview”. That’s not a problem – as long as you give people a summary of what to expect in the video and make it clear why they HAVE to keep watching: will they leave feeling inspired/informed/happier/more relaxed?

  • 3-5 succinct points

Don’t make your IGTV too long. I recommend aiming for between 3-10 minutes in length to ensure you’re being as clear, succinct and compelling as possible.

  • Call to action

As with every other piece of content you upload to Instagram, you must always ensure your IGTV has a call to action. Do you want your audience to share the video? Do you want them to leave questions in the comments section? Whatever it is, give them an action to take so that you’re deepening your relationship with them and moving them one step further along in your sales funnel.

Step 3. Drum up excitement for your IGTV

Whether you’re brand new to IGTV or a long-time user, use every episode as an opportunity to build buzz around your content.

Before we talk about pre- and post-promotion, first let’s focus on the various elements of your IGTV and how to optimize each:

  • Thumbnail
  • Title
  • Caption
  • Hashtags
  • URL
  • Upload

IGTV thumbnail

If you’ve ever used YouTube as a viewer or a creator, you’ll understand the importance of thumbnails. These small “cover images” are key to grabbing people’s attention – and how do you achieve that? Through the use of bright, contrasting colours and big facial expressions.

Don’t just use a screengrab from the IGTV. This is often poor quality and doesn’t tell your audience what the content is about, hurting your chances of a great click-through-rate.

For example, @carecleaning does a brilliant job of using bold headlines and consistent design in her thumbnails to grab her audience’s attention.

carecleaning-using-igtv-strategically-2020

IGTV title

The second, but no less important, element to think about is your IGTV title. When someone views on a mobile (which is almost everybody!) IGTV titles get truncated or cut off, so try to frontload your title, and keep it as short and punchy as possible.

For example, if you’re sharing an IGTV about the best beauty products to wear during a long-haul flight, try this title:

✈️ LONG-HAUL BEAUTY PRODUCTS

Rather than:

The best beauty products to wear during a long-haul flight!

In the image below, notice how much more enticing a short title can be.

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IGTV caption

Make sure your IGTV captions are easy to read and spark conversation.

Make sentences and paragraphs short… there’s nothing more overwhelming than swiping down to read the caption and being faced with a huge wall of text!

And end your caption with a CTA. This may well be the same CTA you’ve included in the IGTV content itself.

A great example of this is Jam Gamble’s caption, which makes great use of emojis, succinct sentences and a clear CTA: Tag a friend that needs a wake up call.

IGTV hashtags

IGTVs are discoverable in the Explore feed – hurrah! This means that you can and should be using hashtags alongside your IGTVs.

As with main-feed content, I recommend using between 20 and 30 hashtags and ensuring that they’re relevant to the content, what you do and who your ideal customer/client is. Check out this article if you want a more in-depth explanation of the best hashtag strategy to use in 2020, because the same applies to your IGTV content.

IGTV URL

One of the best things about IGTV is that you’re able to include a clickable link with your caption.

Yes, you read that correctly! Currently, this is the only type of Instagram content that allows people to click on your link to check out your website/blog/YouTube channel.

If you’re trying to increase your website or blog traffic, IGTV videos might just be the key.

IGTV upload: Desktop or mobile?

Whether you upload via your desktop or mobile device is totally up to you, but it’s nice to have the option to do both.

As I like to edit my IGTVs on my desktop using tools like Canva and Veed, it makes sense for me to download the file and upload onto Instagram via my desktop.

The desktop interface is super simple to use and makes uploading IGTV content a breeze!

IGTV pre-promotion

To get your audience excited about your upcoming IGTV, share snippets of the content on your Instagram Stories or behind-the-scenes clips of you filming/creating the IGTV a few days before it goes live.

This will pique people’s interest and build anticipation. You could always incorporate some poll and question stickers to spark conversation and get the conversation going.

For example, if we carry on from the long-haul beauty products example above, you could ask your audience what their must-have products are when travelling, or what they love/hate most about doing beauty on the go.

And don’t forget to add the countdown timer in your Story with a clear CTA telling people to tap the sticker to be notified as soon as your IGTV goes live.

All of these tactics are a great way of building buzz around your IGTV, which is super important – especially if this is a new format for you.

IGTV post-promotion

Once you hit publish on your IGTV and start seeing the engagement roll in, don’t close down your Instagram app and call it a day!

Share the IGTV within your Stories and across any other social media platforms you’re active on.

Promote your IGTV in a main-feed post if it makes sense to or why not go Live to explore one of the elements of the IGTV episode in more detail?

There’s lots of fun, creative ways you can continue to shine a spotlight on your IGTV.

Remember, not everyone will see the “Preview” first time around, so don’t be afraid to talk about your IGTV in other areas of Instagram (like your main-feed and Instagram Live).

That’s the beauty of the Instagram eco-system. Every element feeds into one another, designed to help you spread your message and content in a variety of ways.

Do you create content solely for IGTV or go Live and then share to IGTV?

With Instagram users now able to save Instagram Lives direct to IGTV, you might be wondering:

Do I create and edit IGTV content specifically for IGTV, or do I use IGTV as a platform to save and share my Lives?

Well, the good news is that there is no right or wrong answer. I would recommend doing whatever works best for you.

So if you know you rock at Instagram Lives, you’ve got the format down and sharing a juicy beginning, middle and end comes super easy to you, then why not keep doing what you’re doing and save those as IGTVs?

As long as the ones you’re saving to IGTV fit within a series and have all the elements we discussed above (compelling headline, attention-grabbing thumbnail, etc.) then this way of using IGTV could work really well for you.

Remember: You aren’t able to edit the video after the fact, so you will need to make sure that your Live is concise and value-packed. If you’re able to share slides during your Live to bring your talking points to life, even better!

If, however, Instagram Lives aren’t something you feel comfortable doing regularly, then I recommend filming your video, adding the title screen, overlays, subtitles and so on, and then sharing to IGTV.

Tips to make your first IGTV unmissable

So you feel fired up and ready to share your first IGTV – yay!!

But first you want my best tips on how to create an IGTV that packs a punch and delights your followers, right?

I thought so. 😊 Here are 4 tips to make your first IGTV unmissable:

1. Put your IGTV ideas to your community

First, think of some ideas that work as a “series” (scroll up to Step 1 to learn more about the importance of this). Then put two of these ideas to your audience and let them decide what they would rather see.

Not only does this help quell any anxieties about whether anyone “cares” about you uploading an IGTV (they do), but it also gets people invested in your IGTV from the beginning. When it’s time for you to share the finished video, your audience will be much more likely to want to tune in as they played a part in the creation of it!

2. Prepare a rough outline

Now you’ve got your idea selected, sketch out a rough outline of the IGTV. Remember to consider all the elements mentioned above: Teaser, compelling introduction, 3 – 5 succinct points and a clear call to action.

It might also be a good idea to think about where you could add overlays in the post-edit, so that you can leave relevant gaps during filming or add cues in your outline to remind you when to call them out.

Having a script or storyboard to follow not only makes your post-editing process much quicker and easier, but more importantly your final IGTV will be much more impactful for it.

3. Film in front of a window

It’s true that the quality of many phone cameras today rival high-end DSLRs. However, to ensure that your IGTV is as visually engaging as possible, film yourself in natural daylight (if you are featuring in it).

This elevates the experience for your viewers and will keep them watching for longer.

Check out influencer and powerhouse businesswoman Patricia Bright to see the magic of great lighting at work.

4. Edit your IGTV using Veed

Once you’ve filmed your IGTV, now comes the fun part! Using a tool like Veed allows you to add slick effects to your video without needing the experience or fancy equipment of a video editor. Take it from me, a video editing novice!

You can add subtitles, overlays, text and filters, and make any bigger edits like cropping and trimming using Veed. With a few simple edits, you can be sure that your IGTV is in the best possible shape to grab your followers’ attention and keep them engaged from beginning to end.

patriciabright-using-igtv-strategically-2020

Conclusion

So there you have it! An in-depth look at what makes a great IGTV strategy and my top tips to start working on yours today.

Like all “newer” facets of Instagram, IGTV can feel a little intimidating on the surface. But I hope this article proves that you have all the skills and knowledge you need to be able to create a fantastic IGTV series.

As long as you keep your viewer in mind when you’re filming and editing, and know that with practice you’ll get better and better, you can start creating IGTVs with confidence from today.

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About the author
Bella Foxwell

Bella Foxwell

Bella Foxwell is a door obsessive and Instagram educator, teaching small businesses, solopreneurs and content creators how to build engaged communities on Instagram in less time. Read more from Bella on her website: bellafoxwell.com

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