Skip to content
screenshot of the Instagram IGTV app icon

How Brands are Using IGTV

Kerri Rogers

Mar 2, 2020

Since its launch back in 2010, Instagram has established itself as the go-to social media platform for short-form content. Got an awesome, high-quality image or video clip? Perfect, post it straight to your profile. Got a slightly lower-quality image or clip you don’t want on your profile forever? Great, upload that to your stories and it will disappear after 24 hrs. But over the past month, we have seen a shift in the content on Instagram to longer-form video. Last month, the social media giant launched IGTV, its long-form video platform. A month on and brands are starting to embrace the change with some very interesting use cases.

Table of Contents

What is IGTV?

IGTV (Instagram Television) was announced on June 20th by Instagram Product Manager, Ashley Yuki during an event in San Francisco.

On stage IGTV

Kevin Systrom onstage at IGTV launch

IGTV brings a new experience for users from within the Instagram App. It allows you to watch long-form video from 60 second – 60 minutes, created by your favourite Instagram accounts. Users will have the ability to upload videos of up to 10 minutes in length while creators with larger audiences will have a one-hour limit.
As soon as you enter the app the video starts playing, just like when you switch on the telly.

“Within the app, you can search for your favourite content, scroll through videos from users you follow or sort through the most popular content.”

Back when Instagram first allowed for video, users had a 15 second time limit, and earlier this year, before the launch of IGTV, the limit was capped at 60 seconds. Video content has come a long way since Instagram’s launch and users have come to expect much more from creators. This has created a need for extended and more in-depth content.

Uploading video content

Setting up IGTV is simple. IGTV is located at the top right of the homepage of your app. Just open it up, tap on the cog and click ‘Create Channel.’ It’s as easy as that.

Once your channel is set up, simply navigate to your profile in IGTV and tap ‘upload video’ to start sharing your content.

Instagram feed

Here’s some quick info about the format of the videos you can upload:

  • Max file size: 3.6GB
  • File type: MP4
  • Video size: 9:16

Full-screen vertical video

All videos on IGTV will be vertical. When smartphones were first emerging, vertical video was not used by anyone except out-of-touch parents who didn’t know how to turn the camera on, let alone which way to orientate their phone, but it has now started to emerge as the better option for mobile users.

When you consider people hold their mobile vertically 94% of the time, it doesn’t seem so crazy that IGTV would want to be vertical only. Vertical is the most logical and convenient way to consume video in the mobile age. If it weren’t for the century-old tradition of horizontal cinema, we probably would have started taking advantage of it years ago.

Vertical video provides a better experience for users as they don’t have to turn their phone to the side to watch. Watching video content, therefore, becomes way less disruptive.

Group smartphone

Instagram already uses vertical video on its stories feature, and Facebook has made the switch to prioritising vertical video as well. The majority of social media activity takes place on mobile and as the use of PCs decreases each year we will likely see vertical video become the norm.

How are major brands utilising IGTV?

Upon its launch, many high-profile brands immediately started creating content. Theses early adaptors have been crafting video ranging from weird one-offs to interviews and full-length TV shows. Here are a few examples of IGTV brand content.


Netflix uploaded an hour-long video promoting of the new series of Riverdale. The video, which was a full hour-long, showed Riverdale star Cole Sprouse eating a cheeseburger. Yep, that’s it, a full 60 minutes just eating a cheeseburger…

The video is actually weirdly hypnotising. A close up on Cole’s face, while he’s making eyes at the camera, makes it impossible to look away. A staggering 700,000 people have viewed the video, and it’s already got over 5,000 comments.

Cole Sprouse


If the sensual burger eating didn’t do it for you, then Buzzfeed might have something more up your alley. Buzzfeed decided that a game of hamster football was the only thing worthy of their first post on this new platform. Frustrating and yet addicting, you can’t look away as these hamsters slowly scurry across the pitch coming close to the goals posts but very rarely scoring. We can all take a lesson from this narrative – when in doubt, use cute animals.


Rather than creating new content, Gucci decided to repurpose old content on IGTV. They went back through their archives and uploaded every runway presentation since 2015. The videos have gained over 400,000 views in total and help reinforce a love for the brand and reinforced their stance as a thought leader by showcasing how they have shaped the fashion industry and trends.

National Geographic

As you would expect from NatGeo, they took things a bit more seriously and delivered content in a more traditional TV format. They uploaded an episode of ‘One Strange Rock,’ an award-winning TV show from filmmaker Darren Aronofsky. The video was re-edited for the new vertical format and has already gained 1.32 million views.

Why is Facebook pushing for longer-form video content?

This year we have seen Facebook (the parent company of Instagram) make a push for longer-form video content across its social media platforms. Long-form video is starting to become more popular and it’s safe to say once you see Facebook doing something you will begin to see it everywhere. Users are now seeing more video on their feeds, and in the US, they now have a video tab that allows them to quickly find videos rather than scrolling through their news feed.

But why is Facebook making this push? Because it’s what users want.

As we now use multiple devices and technology has advanced, users expect to have the same high-quality user experience across all devices.  No longer can we only expect to see the top quality video on a desktop or in our living room, we want it on our phones and tablets too.

We are now starting to seeing long-form video crop up all over the place. Some creators like TED Talks have been doing it for years, while others adopt new technology more slowly.

Long-Form Video in Action: Patagonia, Worn Wear Campaign 

Patagonia is an outdoor clothing and gear brand. The core of their mission is to implement solutions to environmental issues. One way its customer can do this is to hold onto their gear for as long as possible and pass it on through friends and family. It’s not a message you would usually hear from a clothing brand. Usually, you would expect them to tell you to buy their new and improved products, but Patagonia is passionate about environmental issues.

To address the issue, they set up a programme called Worn Wear, where users can buy used and recycled Patagonia gear. To raise awareness for their new programme they created a long-form video showing multiple stories from various Patagonia customers. Each had a piece of Patagonia clothing that they had held onto for many years and the items became sentimental in value. The video resonated with their audience and connected with them on a personal level. There is a clear message its customers can get behind, and the longer length of the video gave them a more effective way to tell the stories, going into more detail and holding their audience’s attention.

Brands are using long-form video as it provides an opportunity to build stronger relationships with their customers and communities. We can now easily go online to compare pricing between products and read reviews, so creating an emotional connection with customers is a great way to set yourself apart from your competitors.

Can IGTV work for smaller influencers?

Video is easy and cheaper to produce these days, so don’t think the IGTV will just be big brands. Smaller influencer and everyday users will start adopting longer video as well. With IGTV, Instagram is not looking to take on the likes of Netflix, Amazon Video and Hulu. The videos created for the platform are not expected to have a high production value or be a long series. So start thinking about how you can use the feature!

Tip: Learn everything there is to learn about influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing is only going to continue to grow in importance and many brands see better ROI using micro-influencers with under 30,000 followers compared to those with followers in the millions.

“As IGTV is not currently monetised, Influencers may start teaming up with brands to create content as this is the only current model that would be viable for influencers to generate an income.”

Instagram is already the platform of choice for macro and micro-influencers, and as IGTV brings over your Instagram followers, it will be an excellent platform for smaller influencers as well as big brands.

IGTV will also help weed out fake influencers, giving brands more trust in who they are investing their money in. Generic photos are easy to obtain through stock photography sites like Shutterstock and there are millions of them out there. Video is more time consuming to create, which means it will be difficult for people to cheat the system and pretend to be an IGTV influencer.

93% of influencers say that Instagram is the platform they focus on the most, whereas YouTube came in fifth with just 37.6% of influencers surveyed saying they operate a YouTube channel. Will the launch of IGTV change where Influencers put their focus?

Could we see Youtubers make the switch to IGTV in future?

We have already seen Instagram launch a new feature with devastating effects to another social media platform. After the launch of Instagram stories last year, Snapchat saw a considerable decline in user growth. To be precise, it slowed to 82% after the launch.

200 million people are using Instagram Stories every day, compared to just 160 million for Snapchat. Some significant influencers have abandoned the SC platform altogether favouring theGram’s greater reach and a higher level of user engagement. Could YouTubes future see a similar fate?

YouTube has had a monopoly on long-form video for a long time, but its users are crying out for an alternative.

YouTube home screen

Over the past year, many of YouTube’s content creators have become disillusioned with their service. The company keeps changing its advertising guidelines which are affecting user’s revenue. Last year, after one particular set of guideline changes (meant to demonetise offensive videos), there was an uproar among innocent creators who had their income stripped away. These new ad guidelines have caused a massive amount of stress for many YouTubers, so could IGTV be the platform they have been waiting for?

Monetisation in IGTV

At the moment there is no way to monetise IGTV. However, we may see this change in the future.

Instagram generates a considerable amount of ad revenue, as does Facebook, so it’s unlikely that this new feature will remain ad-free forever. Until there is a way for creators to generate an income on IGTV we will not see the downfall of YouTube, but I expect many YouTube content creators are preparing to jump ship in the hopes that that day comes sooner rather than later.

By adding links in descriptions on IGTV, Youtubers can upload snippets of video and send their viewers over to YouTube to watch the whole thing. This means they are creating content in both vertical and horizontal, all this extra work its why, eventually, creators will have to pick a platform they prefer.

Creating content for both vertical and horizontal videos will double their work and make it impossible to create content and the pace their audience demands. The Savvy content creators will be using social listening tools like Meltwater to understand which channels their audience is present on to help their decision.

Interested in all the new and exciting things happening in Instagram marketing?

About the author:
Kerri Rogers is a Content Specialist at JBH – The Content Agency Twitter. Give them a follow on Twitter @jbhinfluence and check out their site