On June 20, 2018, Instagram announced that it would be launching an addon program within Instagram called Instagram TV. This feature introduces longer full-screen, vertical videos to the popular social media platform.
Unlike other areas of Instagram, IGTV is meant to provide an additional creative outlet for the Instagram audience by allowing upload of videos of 60 minutes (though, most people are only allowed 10-minute IGTV upload times). You can learn more about the technical aspects of IGTV from the official IGTV blog.
I watched as IGTV launched and after playing around with the program for a while, I was intrigued by the possibilities for this medium. Not only could I create longer videos, but it also allows me a new way to win the top of the Instagram screen.
I am obsessed with grabbing the attention of the right people at the right time. Whether it is with my SEO marketing projects, or PPC marketing campaigns, I love catching the attention of an engaged audience.
IGTV is another way for me to speak to my audience and it is also a great way to maintain Top Of Screen presence. Here is a screenshot of the first time I saw an IGTV notification, and if you are active in IGTV production then you will be able to grab the attention of your audience!
There are many benefits outside of grabbing the attention of your Instagram audience, and IGTV can help build your brand.
Right now, IGTV is pretty new to the system is still a mystery to many content creators. However, you can use an engaging Instagram TV cover to help your content stand out from the crowd.
One thing I noticed on the Instagram TV screen is that after people click on your cover item, they will see an overview of your profile. On this page, your URL will not show (my URL shows under the “160+ free online marketing tools” text, but it is missing in this IGTV preview screen.
Another thing I noticed on my Instagram TV channel screen is that the hashtags on my profile are not clickable. These hashtags are usually clickable on my profile and within the native Instagram app, but on my channel screen of the IGTV channel I noticed these hashtags are not clickable.
This is not a big deal, but it is good to keep in mind. Perhaps this is an effort to minimize the number of people to click away from the IGTV content, but the profile picture is still clickable and links to my Instagram profile.
I started playing around with different titles for my IGTV upload. I noticed that some IGTV content producers made their claims in all caps, and others used camel capitalization. I chose to go with camel capitalization since that looked the best with the font that Instagram uses.
You can use whichever method you think looks best for your brand and matches your tone/voice.
One thing I was interested in is how many characters were allowed to show on the IGTV preview on the IGTV channel screen. Here is a screenshot that I took to showcase the way IGTV preview screens look for your IGTV movies.
I found that on average IGTV movie titles allowed for two lines of text, with each line having a maximum of 18-20 characters (including spaces). The allowed number of characters will vary based on the width of each character, but you can expect to have around that number of characters on each line.
You should follow the basic rules of making great titles when you build your IGTV movie titles. Put the most critical information first to ensure your audience reads them, and try to catch the attention of your readers quickly.
During the upload process, I did a lot of experimenting with IGTV optimization, and one part of this was to optimize the Instagram TV description for my video.
The description for any Instagram TV video can be found by watching the video, and then going to the top of the page by the creator’s name and clicking on the down arrow that sits right by the title of the video.
Right now IGTV is only searchable by content creator/channel. You are not able to search for categories or topics, but I think this is going to change. Instagram TV is setting itself to be a direct competitor with YouTube, and the only way to do this is if topic and creator organize Instagram TV channels.
I want to get ahead of the curve on that trend, so I did a lot of experimenting with IGTV descriptions. Here is a breakdown of what I found and what you should test if you want to optimize your Instagram TV video descriptions.
As IGTV continues to improve their platform and focuses on taking over YouTube, I think IGTV will rely on each video description for categorizing, ranking, and to help your audience find your videos. While reports are pretty clunky and don’t seem to have little weight in how they show, I think Instagram TV videos will rely on this factor more in the future.
I took a methodical approach to optimize the IGTV descriptions based on my knowledge of general SEO practices and best practices in other platforms like YouTube. Since Instagram TV is going to take on YouTube, I figure it is a good idea to implement similar optimizations practices.
You can see that I used keywords that I want to rank for in the title and the descriptions. I notice that the paragraphs don’t break with line breaks (just like all other Instagram content), so you might need to use periods or other interruptions to separate items.
The keywords I used are things that I want to rank for in the future when Instagram allows that organization and exploration of content based on categories, topics, etc.
Using keywords in IGTV right now is experimental since Instagram TV does not categorize content by topics or keywords. However, I think keywords will play a significant factor in the ease of finding material in the future, so I want to prepare for that to come. Plus, using keywords makes it easier for my audience to see the videos that matter to them, so it is a win-win.
Hashtags are a central tool in social media networks because they help organize information for audience members. At the same time, hashtags help social media platforms understand the content to rank and drive their algorithms.
Instagram relies on hashtags, and I think IGTV will continue this trend. Since hashtags are vital to Instagram, I started experimenting with hashtags in my Instagram TV descriptions.
Since IGTV has limited search features right now and content is organized based on content creator hashtags don’t play a significant role in discovery right now. However, based on the growth and strategy of Instagram TV, I think hashtags will play a significant role in how content is discovered in the future.
This is why I recommend including hashtags in your IGTV videos, so you can get found as Instagram changes how content is displayed and located on their platform.
One of the best things about IGTV is that your video descriptions can include clickable URLs. This is a significant change from other aspects of Instagram because posts and Stories do not allow clickable URLs.
I experimented with URLs in Instagram TV video descriptions and found some ways to optimize. I used the same approach to YouTube video optimizations by including a naked URL in the first line of the story.
I did this optimization technique in the Instagram TV description to help drive more traffic to my site.
One thing that bothered me about IGTV is that I was not able to edit the video in my mobile app (Native Instagram app or the IGTV app). I was worried that once I published the video, I would not be able to edit the title or description.
After some testing, I found that you can edit Instagram TV videos from the desktop Instagram app. You do this by clicking on your bio, then going to your IGTV section of the site.
Once you open your Instagram TV channel on the Instagram desktop app, you can click on the three dots at the bottom, and then select Edit Video.
After you select Edit Video, you will be able to edit your IGTV video title and description. Changes take a few minutes to save, but this is the only way that I found to edit IGTV videos once they are uploaded to my Instagram TV channel.
The future of IGTV looks promising, and I will continue to research and experiment with ways to make my IGTV videos rank better as other functions roll out. Be sure to optimize your IGTV channel and videos to ensure you maximize your online exposure.
While we are not sure where Instagram will go with optimizations, you can use the knowledge that they want to take out YouTube as a frame of reference. You can also look at how Instagram has changed and the evolution various aspects of this channel has gone though. Assume that the same trajectory will be used, and Instagram will take direction from other social media networks for your small business and learn how they evolve!
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