In a somewhat surprise move, Instagram is rolling out a new long-form video platform with standalone app, called IGTV. It integrates with Instagram’s app as well, and signals a push towards more video content. Time limits for videos on Instagram were previously limited to 60 seconds, however with IGTV that will increase to up to an hour (with ten minutes expected to be the average length).

Instagram courting video

It highlights video’s increasing prevalence in social media and marketing as a whole. YouTube has over a billion users, around a third of total Internet users. Half a billion people watch video on Facebook every day. With IGTV, Instagram (and parent company Facebook) hopes to grab a piece of YouTube’s pie.

Eventually, IGTV will offer brands more opportunities for advertising (and more ad revenue, of course). With 79% of consumers preferring to find out about a product via video instead of written content, video advertising is something all businesses should be experimenting with.

Trying to attract younger audiences

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has stated his hopes that IGTV will become “a hub of creativity” for people with teen and young adult followings.

Attracting teens is something parent company Facebook has been struggling with recently. 51% of teenagers use Facebook, compared to 71% a couple of years ago. In comparison, 85% of teens use Youtube.

It spells trouble for Facebook as that younger demographic are highly attractive to brands. They usher in the next generation of consumers. So it pays to gain their loyalty early-on. IGTV might be Facebook’s solution for its teen problems.

IGTV for influencers

When a user follows an influencer on Instagram, they’re going to be able to see that influencer’s IGTV channel. Each influencer (or creator as Instagram likes to call them) has their own channel – similar to YouTube’s format. Many people aspire to become an influencer and IGTV also taps into this. Its ethos is that anyone can become one of its creators, you just have to start uploading to IGTV.

Video goes vertical

IGTV videos have been designed with a mobile-first format. That means they’re vertical. This is an important move on Instagram’s part because competitor YouTube only offers horizontal video. Nowadays, many businesses are moving towards vertical video as it offers a better user experience. You don’t have to fiddle around with tilting your phone and making a video full-screen in order to view it.

Businesses which aren’t using vertical video are seriously missing out. Facebook has found that vertical videos generate higher watch times and more engagements compared with horizontal video.

Because people don’t have to tilt their screen to view vertical video, they’re more likely to watch it. Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter all use the format, so it looks as though vertical video isn’t going away anytime soon.

Brands experimenting now

Some businesses have already started experimenting with the platform. Chipotle, created some brand new content for IGTV whilst Gucci, has repurposed existing content for its IGTV channels.

If your resources are limited then repurposing content is your best bet when initially posting to IGTV. Of course, if you find the platform works well for your business then eventually you’re going to have to create unique content. Like any social media channel, you need to post different content to the others in order to gain followers.

Any repurposed content also needs to be in vertical format otherwise it’s just not going to come across well. To get the most bang for your buck, however, you can post the video to your Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter as well. Again, the point about differentiated content is relevant here. Make sure each follower on each of your platforms gets something they cannot get from your other channels. There’s no point for a customer to follow your Facebook and Twitter if each platform promotes the same content.

Take the opportunity now

IGTV is brand new to the social media scene and that means there’s a great opportunity to get good at it before other brands. Don’t wait for it to reach full maturity. It’s a largely untested medium which might put off some larger brands. But there’s a chance your brand will be more noticed on IGTV because there’s less noise from other businesses. Even if you just repurpose video for now, it’s worth checking out.

Establishing a presence on IGTV could pay off in the long run. If your business becomes well known on it now, then as the platform grows your business (and reach) will grow along with it.

Don’t be put off by not being experienced on the platform as everyone on there is new. We’ll all be learning as we go along, but that’s the joy of a new social media channel. Instagram has released a handy guide to using IGTV as well.

There’s a lot of untapped potential to take advantage of. So what are you waiting for?