Instagram is still a critical marketing tool for consumer brands, as seen with the recent Instagram Shopping update. It manages to match and outdo new updates from rivals Twitter and Snapchat. Now the platform has set its sights on luring millennial viewers away from YouTube. Last week it introduced a long-form vertical video platform that appears within the Instagram app as well as part of a stand-alone app, IGTV.
The new update comes while Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, struggles to attract teens, while also dealing with the scandal exposing its leaky controls for protecting users’ personal information. As explained by a representative: “We’ve learned that younger audiences are spending more time with amateur content creators and less time with professionals.”
With over 800 million monthly active accounts and a focus on visual aesthetic, the platform has become one of the most relevant social platforms for brands. It now holds over 25 million business profiles. It is no surprise that 50% of hashtags on the platform are marketing related and that 60% of users follow a label’s account.
A study commissioned by Instagram in partnership with GWI back in March 2017, found that over 58% of luxury global consumers from France, Italy, Germany, the UAE, UK and the US use the platform to stay up to date on trends. Roughly half of these are motivated to follow brands or celebrities.
The playing field for potential commercial partnerships between brands and Instagram is already crowded, but as the business expands to speak to young viewers, the emphasis is on relative unknowns turning into internet sensations with fervent followings among teens and young adults, as explained by Instagram’s CEO, Kevin Systrom on Wednesday. Meaning that now is a limited opportunity for brands to get in early and experiment before it’s saturated with content.
IGTV doesn’t yet feature any ads, and the company doesn’t have any revenue share agreements in place. Right now, the focus is on building engagement and, as simple as it sounds, due to Instagram’s visual nature the quality of imagery and video used by brands is the greatest driver of success. However, as per Instagram’s methodology, the vertical video is perfect for unpolished, personable, on-the-spot-and-on-your-smartphone material.
Biometric research conducted by MediaScience on behalf of Facebook, who acquired Instagram in a billion-dollar deal back in April 2012, shows that people psychologically react better to companies on Instagram than any other feed-based social network tested. Engagement was high while users navigated their feed, as well as while adverts were displayed. Potentially, then, IGTV is a great opportunity to show off products and experiment with an already-involved audience.
IGTV starts playing as soon as you open the app or tap the icon in Instagram, and videos can last for up to an hour. Once you are in the app you can swipe to “change the channel” and from there either search for a known favourite, sort through popular content or scroll through videos created by those you follow. It has a lot in common with Snapchat’s Discover section, where user-generated content plays on a continuous loop. Like the traditional Instagram app you can still like, comment and share content.
If your brand has already been making use of Instagram Stories and creating unique content for YouTube and Snapchat, IGTV could be simply about repurposing these videos to the new channel. However, although not many brands shoot campaign content tailored specifically for Instagram, it can pay off.
One brand which has managed to do this with great success is Louis Vuitton, which first shot video content designed exclusively for the stories platform to launch its Spring/Summer 2017 menswear collection. By taking advantage of the vertical screen to display full-length looks, along with detailed images of the clothing and accessories, it created a compelling visual narrative revealing the craftsmanship of Kim Jones.
Due to this tailored approach, Louis Vuitton grew its online video audience by 8.2% between 2016 and 2017.
Your first uploaded video to the new app will create your brand’s image. Something to keep in mind is that videos can last up to 60 minutes, but these will be saved for larger or verified accounts – smaller brands and users will have a limit of 10 minutes. As with Stories, you can add a swipe-up call-to-action to IGTV videos, which you can link to target landing pages.
Campaigns will help to reach new audiences and young creators. With consumers having so many choices, companies do need to use this multi-levelled approach to retarget as well as continue the dialogue. Ultimately, it is about constantly experimenting, optimising and tracking the data to find what resonates with audiences, keeps the conversation going, and drives sales.