The Ultimate IGTV Guide: How to Create an Engaging Channel

IGTV (Instagram TV) is a long-form vertical video channel that’s accessible from Instagram and as a standalone app. It releases in June 2018.

IGTV videos are designed to be longer than Instagram Stories. Regular users could create videos up to 10 minutes long and verified users could create videos up to an hour long.

Brands have been relatively slow to adopt IGTV for a number of causes, chief among them the high prices and time investment required to produce long-form social videos.

However, in early 2019, Instagram announced that content creators may share one-minute previews of their channels in their Instagram feeds. This greatly improved discoverability. Now, brands have an opportunity to catch their followers’ attention without requiring them to leave the Instagram app. And many have the views and engagement to show for it.

How to use IGTV

How to create an IGTV Channel

Before you may publish videos to IGTV you should create a channel.

Your channel will have the same privacy settings and bio as your Instagram account.

From the Instagram app

Step 1. Tap the IGTV logo close to the top-right corner of your home feed.

Instagram feed

Step 2. Tap the gear icon on the right side of the screen.

Instagram TV

Step 3. Tap Create Channel.

Instagram TV

Step 4. Follow the on-screen prompts.

From the IGTV app

Follow steps 2 through 4 above.

From the web at Instagram.com

Step 1. Go to your profile and click on IGTV.

how to upload an IGTV video

Step 2. Click on Get Began and follow the on-screen instructions.

IGTV upload video

How to upload an IGTV video

From the Instagram app

Step 1. Tap the IGTV logo in the top right of Feed.
Instagram feed

Step 2. Tap your profile picture to view your channel.
Instagram TV

Step 3. Tap + and select a video, then tap Next.
Instagram TV

IGTV

Step 4. Add a title and description.
IGTV

Pro tip 1: Share a minute preview of your video to your Instagram Feed (and profile) to extend views and engagement. Viewers could tap Keep Watching to continue watching the full video.

That is the only chance you will have to publish a preview. You cannot go back and edit later.

You may also share your video to a connected Facebook page.

IGTV

Pro tip 2: Take particular care to edit your cover picture, particularly when you are planning on sharing a preview to your Instagram profile. Ensure the picture is compelling, clear, descriptive (if possible), and that it fits the aesthetic of your Instagram feed.

IGTV

Step 5. Tap Post.

From the IGTV app

Follow steps 2 through 5 above.

From Instagram.com

Step 1. Go to your profile and click on IGTV.
Step 2. Click on Upload.
Step 3. Click on + and select a video.
Step 4. Add a title and description.

Pro tip 1: You may also select to share a preview of your video to your Instagram Feed and profile or share your video to a connected Facebook Page.

Pro tip 2: Edit your cover picture so that it fits your Instagram clearly and aesthetic describes the content of the video.

Step 5. Click on Post.

IGTV video specs

  • MP4 file format
  • A vertical aspect ratio of 9:16
  • A minimum frame rate of 30 FPS (frames per second) and a minimum resolution of 720 pixels
  • Maximum file size for videos which are 10 minutes or less is 650MB
  • Maximum file size for videos up to 60 minutes is 3.6GB.
  • Cover picture size: 420px by 654px (or 1:1.55 ratio)

Pro tip: You cannot edit your cover picture after you’ve uploaded it, to ensure it’s good before you do.

IGTV best practices

Cross promote your video

Whenever you begin posting to a new channel, it’s the greatest practice to inform your followers on other channels what you are up to, in case they want to follow you there too.

That is especially true for IGTV, as some people must download a new app to view your content.

IGTV offers a few different cross-promotion options:

  • Preview and hyperlink to an IGTV video from your Instagram Stories (verified users only)
  • Share one-minute previews of your IGTV videos to your Instagram feed and profile (users shall be prompted to Keep Watching on IGTV)
  • Share IGTV videos to a connected Fb page

Outside of Instagram, consider including callouts to your IGTV channel from:

  • Twitter
  • An email newsletter
  • Your Fb Page

Optimize for silent viewing

Chances are if people are watching your video in the IGTV app, they will turn their sound on. However, even the videos that play automatically in the app default to “sound off”.

And when you are sharing your video in your Instagram Stories or on your feed, most people won’t have their sound on.

So be certain that your video is optimized to play without sound—i.e., it either makes sense without sound or has simply visible subtitles. Clipomatic could help with this.

Include the most important info up front

People scroll through their feeds rapidly. You only have a small window of time to grab their attention—up to a minute when you are lucky, however, 15 seconds might be a more realistic goal.

So be certain that your IGTV video hooks your viewers as soon as possible. Do not let their attention slip or give them a reason to swipe through to the next factor.

That is especially true when you are sharing a preview to your Instagram feed, where viewers shall be prompted to “keep watching” on IGTV after one minute.

Think of the first minute of your video as an introduction to a blog post. No matter how flashy and engaging your video is, you will need to answer the following questions:

  • What is this video about?
  • Why should you keep watching?
  • Optional: Who is this video for?
  • Optional: How long will it be?

Answering those questions as soon as possible will assure longer and higher quality views.

Use relevant hashtags in your description

Search functionality on IGTV has received some criticism. As of April 2019, you may only search for profiles rather than videos on a particular topic (think: how your search for a YouTube video).

However, Instagram is said to be working on changing that.
IGTV

In the meantime, make sure your videos are additionally seen by non-followers by including related hashtags in your description. Your videos will show up on the corresponding hashtag page on Instagram, where people following that hashtag could uncover your content.

IGTV

Only post content that warrants a longer format

IGTV is not just a place to be cross-posting your Instagram Stories. If you need people to follow you on both channels, you should be certain that they have a great reason to do so.

This means growing new content that matches a longer format. While your Instagram Stories are designed to suit within snappy 15-second clips, what would you do with more than 15 seconds? Lean into that space and brainstorm.

Like YouTube, the long-form tutorial content is prevalent on IGTV. However, some brands have even grown an entire TV series for the app.

Use your brand colors, fonts, themes, etc.

Just because it is a different app does not mean you are presenting a different brand. It could already be a jarring experience to leave one app to watch content one other, so make the experience as smooth as possible for your fans. Let them know you are the same old you, just on a different channel.

That means sticking to the same colors, tone, and vibe as common. Bonus: it will help your IGTV content match into your feed too.

6 great brands on IGTV

NatGeo

National Geographic, the biggest non-celebrity brand on Instagram, is already known for its superb live video (and regular video) content. For IGTV, they developed “One Strange Rock”, a TV show directed by Darren Aranofsky and narrated by Will Smith. The show contains interviews with astronauts, including Peggy Wilson and Chris Hadfield, about their perspectives of Earth.

They also share 3-minute behind-the-scenes clips of their show hostile Planet.

IGTV National Geographic

Netflix

Netflix uses IGTV to appeal to its younger, digitally savvy viewers. They publish behind-the-scenes interviews, promos for new series, trailers, and more. Some of this content contains an hour-long video of Riverdale star Cole Sprouse eating a hamburger.

Netflix has even been known to publish full episodes of popular Netflix-produced TV series, such as the Astrology episode of Explained.

Emily Henderson

Emily Henderson, an interior design blogger, and author of the most effective selling book STYLED offers IGTV followers virtual tours of homes she’s designed.

What’s greater than reading about a newly designed home? Virtually walking through it with somebody explaining where all of the items were purchased and the thought process behind all their decisions—particularly if that somebody is the smart and bubbly Emily Henderson.

Even when you aren’t into interior design, the voyeur in all of us enjoys seeing how other people live. Most of Henderson’s videos have over 100,000 views and link to her blog.

Instagram TV

NASA

It’s nearly not fair. With all of the footage they already have, the National Space Agency barely even has to attempt to create content that is riveting for IGTV audiences.

Their channel currently contains such tours of the moon, views of Earth from the space station, views of the sun, and Mars helicopter technology demos.
Instagram TV

The Lily News

The Washington Post’s women-focused news website shares a series of “Unfiltered” interviews with YouTubers on IGTV. Those interviews share intimate particulars about the YouTubers’ lives that none of their fans ever heard before.

Interestingly, these videos follow a different aesthetic than The Lily’s Instagram feed. While it’s normally greatest to keep a similar aesthetic across channels, you may also use a unique theme to assist followers to distinguish content series. For example, the Unfiltered interviews are all in black and white, while the rest of their content is in color.

IGTV The Lily News

Sephora

IGTV chances for beauty firms are endless. It’s the perfect format for showcasing products with makeup, skincare, and hair tutorials. In case you’re in the industry, look to one of the greats for inspiration.

It’s worth noting that some of Sephora’s videos do not even function Sephora products, helping to position them as a trusted beauty advisor.

IGTV Sephora

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