Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has experienced astounding growth. In just a few short years, it gained 700 million users and developed a vast audience – ranging from corporations to tweens. It has quickly grown to be more than five times the size of Snapchat and twice the size of Twitter. Now that it’s surpassed two online giants, it’s going after its third.
The consistent growth among social platforms has led to a greater demand for innovation in order to gain and retain users. New apps, features, and services are constantly being released to provide users with fresh forms of entertainment. In a recent effort to innovate, Instagram announced a new video feature that directly competes with YouTube.
Instagram Reinvents the Wheel
IGTV is Instagram’s latest app for watching long-form, vertical videos. The prerecorded videos can last up to ten minutes, breaking their traditional video length limit of just 60 seconds. This lengthened timeframe will give viewers a new place to consume tutorials, videos and creative stories.
IGTV is available in the regular Instagram app, but also has its own stand-alone app. This approach is similar to what Instagram did with Boomerang, it’s proprietary video loop app. Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, also built a separate app for its Messenger service. This approach is a beneficial way to build a more comprehensive service with additional features that aren’t included in the flagship app. This leaves more room for upgrades and allows consumers more capabilities within the stand-alone app.
Catering to Rising Generations
IGTV is an initiative to target younger generations and cater to their digital preferences. This audience is increasingly turning to mobile to watch videos, rather than television. In fact, teens are watching 43% less TV than they did over five years ago. Apps like IGTV could further promote the cord-cutting trend by offering an all-in-one platform for digital consumption.
Instagram attracts users because it offers an extensive list of features. These include the ability to chat with friends, manipulate and share images and videos, interact with posts, click through ephemeral stories, search for content, view follower activity, and now, watch long-form videos. IGTV adds a quintessential branch to Instagram’s previous offerings – making it an all-encompassing platform that’s difficult to compete with.
The Battle of Digital Mavens
IGTV is a new channel of entertainment in an already saturated market – one that YouTube has traditionally dominated. In order to gain traction in this space, Instagram needs to set itself apart in a big way. Its vertical format may be enough to achieve this. The format caters to younger audiences, who have grown up watching videos on their smartphones, rather than widescreens. In fact, Millennials spend about three hours a day watching videos on mobile, and Gen Z spends even more.
Instagram also plans to leverage influencer marketing to bolster the launch of IGTV. Since Instagram’s creators have innately large followings, advertising IGTV through their accounts is a surefire way to garner the attention of users.
But let’s not forget – YouTube has some major clout of its own. It has been the primary tool for creators to post music videos, entertainment clips and tutorials for years. Furthermore, with an abundance of videos already available on YouTube’s feed, visitors can easily search and find the content they are looking for without deviating from the source.
Video creators already view YouTube as the go-to destination to post their work. It’s an optimal place to share videos, create a follower base, and earn compensation via ads. The opportunity to be known as a YouTube sensation entices people to create a profile and gain a following - a difficult challenge for Instagram to match.
Video has become a dominant tool that’s not only taking over websites, but also social and mobile. It’s an invaluable resource that allows brands to tell a visual story. By showing rather than telling, brands can trigger emotions within their audiences and draw them further into their buyers’ journey.
With video at the core of IGTV, it’s evident that Instagram plans to be a forerunner in this digital space. However, with YouTube already dominating this space, Instagram will have to do some major leg work to catch up to this media giant.
Considering Instagram’s fierce track record, I’d be breaking a sweat if I were a YouTube exec.