instagram tv
Image via Tracy Thomas under CC0

The Ultimate IGTV Guide: How to Create an Engaging Channel

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

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

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

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

Read on to discover:

  • How to create your own IGTV channel
  • What types of content perform well on IGTV
  • How top brands are engaging their followers on IGTV

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a lifestyle photographer used to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

How to use IGTV

How to create an IGTV Channel

Before you can post videos to IGTV you need to 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 near 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 IGTV.

how to upload an IGTV video

Step 2. Click Get Started 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 photo to view your channel.
Instagram TV

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

IGTV

Step 4. Add a title and description.
IGTV

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

This is the only chance you’ll have to post a preview. You can’t go back and edit later.

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

IGTV

Pro tip 2: Take special care to edit your cover photo, especially if you’re planning on sharing a preview to your Instagram profile. Make sure the image is compelling, clear, descriptive (if possible), and that it matches 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 IGTV.
Step 2. Click Upload.
Step 3. Click + and choose a video.
Step 4. Add a title and description.

Pro tip 1: You can also choose 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 photo so that it matches your Instagram aesthetic and clearly describes the content of the video.

Step 5. Click Post.

IGTV video specs

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

Pro tip: You can’t edit your cover photo after you’ve uploaded it, so make sure it’s perfect before you do.

IGTV best practices

Cross promote your video

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

This is especially true for IGTV, as some people will have to download a new app to view your content.

IGTV offers a few different cross-promotion options:

  • Preview and link 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 will be prompted to Keep Watching on IGTV)
  • Share IGTV videos to a connected Facebook page

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

  • Twitter
  • An email newsletter
  • Your Facebook Page

Optimize for silent viewing

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

And if you’re sharing your video in your Instagram Stories or on your feed, most people will not have their sound on.

So make sure your video is optimized to play without sound—i.e., it either makes sense without sound, or has easily visible subtitles. Clipomatic can help with this.

Include the most important info up front

People scroll through their feeds quickly. You only have a small window of time to grab their attention—up to a minute if you’re lucky, but 15 seconds is probably a more realistic target.

So make sure your IGTV video hooks your viewers as soon as possible. Don’t let their attention slip or give them a reason to swipe through to the next thing.

This is especially true if you’re sharing a preview to your Instagram feed, where viewers will 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’ll 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 these questions as soon as possible will guarantee longer and higher quality views.

Use relevant hashtags in your description

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

But Instagram is said to be working on changing that.
IGTV

In the meantime, ensure your videos are also seen by non-followers by including relevant hashtags in your description. Your videos will show up on the corresponding hashtag page on Instagram, where people following that hashtag can discover your content.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a lifestyle photographer used to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

Get the free checklist right now!

IGTV

Only post content that warrants a longer format

IGTV isn’t just a place to be cross posting your Instagram Stories. If you want people to follow you on both channels, you need to make sure they have a good reason to do so.

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

Like YouTube, long-form tutorial content is popular on IGTV. But some brands have even developed entire TV series for the app.

Obviously what you choose to do depends on your budget and your brand, but here are some long-form video content ideas to get you started.

Use your brand colors, fonts, themes, etc.

Just because it’s a different app doesn’t mean you’re presenting a different brand. It can already be a jarring experience to leave one app to watch content another, so make the experience as smooth as possible for your followers. Let them know you’re the same old you, just on a different channel.

That means sticking to the same colors, tone, and vibe as usual. Bonus: this will help your IGTV content fit into your feed too.

6 great brands on IGTV

NatGeo

National Geographic, the largest non-celebrity brand on Instagram, is already known for their amazing 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 includes 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 showHostile Planet.

IGTV National Geographic

Netflix

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

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

Emily Henderson

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

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

Even if you’re not 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 almost not fair. With all the footage they already have, the National Space Agency barely even has to try to create content that’s riveting for IGTV audiences.

Their channel currently includes 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 site shares a series of “Unfiltered” interviews with YouTubers on IGTV. These interviews share intimate details about the YouTubers’ lives that none of their followers ever heard before.

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

IGTV The Lily News

Sephora

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

It’s worth noting that some of Sephora’s videos don’t even feature Sephora products, helping to position them as a trusted beauty advisor.

IGTV Sephora

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