Instagram TV: What Brands Need to Know


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Yet Another Opportunity To Watch Videos

Last month, Instagram announced the launching of their new app, Instagram TV (IGTV). After the tremendous success of Instagram Stories, introduced in August 2016 to compete with Snapchat in the short-form video space, the social network is taking things one step further with IGTV: a long-form, vertical video app that’s seamlessly integrated into Instagram.

It’s no coincidence that, in the very same announcement, Instagram also revealed they have surpassed one billion users, making it the third largest social network after Facebook and YouTube. IGTV represents Instagram’s most aggressive move to date aimed at attracting brands looking to reach wide audiences through integrated content. In this blog, Hollywood Branded discusses what brands need to know about Instagram TV, gives marketers and content creators some guidelines on how to use the new app to drive conversions through branded video content, and shares some current case studies of what brands are doing on the platform.   

Instagram TV

How IGTV Works

So do we really need yet another platform to view content and videos? Instagram thinks we do, and that they have the perfect solution for both brands and influencers alike.  Instagram has always been limited to :60 second or less video content - at least, until Instagram Stories was launched. But the platform has been losing viewers - and thus ad dollars - to YouTube, and they've come up with a plan to keep viewers on the platform by creating a way to keep both brands and most importantly influencers who promote brands.  With the new longer format offerings, the social platform is hopeful that more people will post their video content - including long form content in the form of TV shows.

There are a lot of YouTube influencers who haven't been so happy as of late, since YouTube has been cutting back on payments, changing algorithms and just in general having influencers make less money on content where they previously were making enough money to be full time influencers.


And for brands and influencers alike, Instagram's new launch of IGTV could be a major windfall - instead of worrying about growing multiple social platforms, they could choose to concentrate on Instagram, who has been working more closely with influencers to try to align and help them monetize.  And for brands, who are eager for direct shopping experiences, this new platform extension addresses that need as well - allowing content to be swiped to lead directly to a purchasing opportunity.

Take a look at the below image and you'll get a good idea and feel for the platform's capabilities.


How IGTV Works

Let’s run through some of the topline ways IGTV works, and technical aspects that marketers and content creators should be aware of about IGTV:

  • Videos are full screen and can only be recorded vertically
  • Video length is 15 seconds up to 60 minutes for verified accounts. For non-verified accounts, the maximum length is 15 minutes.
  • IGTV has channels, like regular television. However, on IGTV, brands and creators are the channels that people follow. 
  • File size can be up to 3.6 GB
  • Video size is 9:16
  • Brands and creators can add swipe up CTAs on their videos
  • Users can view IGTV videos on both Instagram and the IGTV app
  • Videos can also be uploaded onto Facebook Watch for a 360-degree social content strategy
  • Users can even personally suggest videos and channels that other viewers may like
  • IGTV starts playing as soon as users open the app
  • Once you upload a video, it’s available to view by all your existing Instagram followers.
  • IGTV recommends multiple videos to viewers on the app, effectively increasing your brand’s chances of having your content distributed to new followers who have similar interests to your content. 

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4 Tips and Guidelines for Brands Looking to Use IGTV

Create original vertical videos. Unlike YouTube or Facebook which support landscape format videos, IGTV was constructed to exclusively support vertical videos. This means that you cannot repurpose videos from your other platforms or channels because in all likelihood they will not be in the proper format. So you must create new videos specifically for Instagram TV. The advantage of Instagram TV for marketers is it makes it easier for users to view your content on the go, increasing the likelihood that they will actually watch it.

Have a regular schedule. Any effective marketer knows to develop a editorial calendar for their marketing campaigns throughout the year. For IGTV, this is especially important as sticking to a regular schedule will allow your followers to know when they can expect new content, increasing their chances of engagement.

Dont make your videos too long. Just because IGTV allows verified accounts to post videos up to 60 minutes long doesn’t mean that your brand should use the full length of time allowed. Your goal as marketers should still be to create clear and concise videos that your followers are:

  1. likely to view
  2. retain the messaging and
  3. engage with the content.

While some brands may be well suited to posting longer videos, most brands should aim for 2 to 5 minutes.

Add clickable links in video descriptions. A URL posted in a video’s description will automatically be turned into a clickable link. This is extremely important for driving traffic to a website or landing page of your choosing. 

Here are some other tips for posting effective videos on Instagram TV:

  • Create short, descriptive titles that will peak your followers interests. Titles get cropped off after 25 characters, so include the most important information near the beginning.
  • Avoid obnoxiously loud intros as they’ll increase the likelihood of viewers quickly changing to the next channel. Unlike Instagram Stories, viewers are most likely tuning in to IGTV with their sound on, so keep this in mind.
  • Use hashtags in the video descriptions to increase exposure.

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Examples of What Brands Are Currently Doing on IGTV


Netflix posted a video of actor Cole Sprouse eating a cheeseburger for a full hour. Netflix hasn’t made any subsequent announcement on whether Sprouse would be starring in a new show on the digital platform or if there’s a new burger show on the horizon, but with 950,000 views and over 6,000 comments, they’ve definitely peaked people’s interest with the video.



National Geographic

The cable network posted a full 45 minute episode on IGTV. The network re-edited the episode, which also aired on television, for the purpose of refitting it to IGTV’s vertical format. With 360,000 views in the first day and over 1.3 million total views, the episode’s reach rivals its regular viewership numbers.

IGTV National Geographic

A Case Study Gone Wrong - A&W

And then... there is doing it the wrong way.  But hey - we have to give them cudos for being one of the first brands to jump on the platform and give it a try! Someone had to make a fail, for every other brand to be able to learn from.

A&W posted a ten minute short film about a day in the life of mascot Rooty the Root Bear. While the video may have been funny, it was also an example of how a brand failed to utilize the app’s vertical format. The burger chain company repurposed a landscape video for IGTV, ultimately failing to take advantage of a user’s natural view point and screen orientation.

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A World Of Branded Content Opportunities

Just when you thought there were too many social platforms for your brand to wrap your head around - there is one more!  What's nice is... the platform your brand is likely already creating on Instagram can go a little longer on IGTV. What's not so nice?  Anything you've been filming for your company in a horizontal video format, that could so easily just be modified and popped up on Facebook or YouTube... won't work here.

There will likely be some sort of software that does come out and helps you scale your videos easily without losing massive resolution and having it pixelate, but until then... plan on shooting content and laying it out in two different versions.  Or have a lot of cropping which isn't going to look so great.

We love all things branded content and influencer marketing - be sure to check out these 5 blog posts our team has written.

 And when you are ready to start branding the content of others - whether through TV or Film content, or social influencers... watch this video which will help you understand how product placement works.

How Product Placement Works Video