How to Use IGTV: The Complete Guide for Marketers

IGTV (Instagram TV) lets brands create their own long-form video series on Instagram.

It’s a great opportunity to:

… among many other things!

But how do you create an IGTV channel? And what are the best ways you can use it for your business?

Let’s dive into the answers, and find out how you can make IGTV work for your brand.

Table of contents

What is IGTV?

How to use IGTV

IGTV video specs

5 ways to use IGTV for business

IGTV tips and best practices

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.

What is IGTV ?

IGTV is a long-form video channel accessible from Instagram and as a standalone app.

Instagram launched the feature in June 2018. It gives brands the opportunity to make videos longer than typical Instagram Stories and posts.

In fact, verified users can post IGTV videos up to an hour long. Regular users can upload 10 minute long videos—still much longer than normal videos!

In 2019, Instagram also allowed creators to post one-minute previews of their IGTV videos on their feeds to improve discoverability. That’s perfect for getting your audience’s attention without them having to download the app.

Instagram more recently introduced the IGTV series feature. This allows creators to make a regular series of videos to be released on a consistent cadence (weekly, monthly, etc).

Think of it like a series you’d see on television or YouTube—but all on Instagram.

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 if you do it right, IGTV can actually be a fantastic way to build engagement for your brand. Read on to find out how.

How to use IGTV

Watch this Hootsuite Academy video for a quick overview of how to use IGTV. Once you’re done, read on to find exact instructions (with visuals) below:

How to create an IGTV Channel

It used to be that if you wanted to upload a video onto IGTV you needed to create an IGTV Channel. However, Instagram has since done away with that feature.

All you need to create an IGTV account now is an Instagram account. Your account allows you to upload videos onto IGTV via the Instagram app or the IGTV app.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you already have an Instagram account. If you don’t, that’s okay! Here’s the directions straight from Instagram on how to create an account.

How to upload an IGTV video

Uploading an IGTV video is very simple—but there are a few ways to do it.

How to upload and IGTV video from Instagram

1. Tap the + button at the bottom of your newsfeed.

plus button on Instagram

2. Choose a video 60 seconds or longer and tap Next.

choosing a video from your Instagram gallery

3. Select share as Long Video. This allows you to post the full-length video on IGTV, while a shorter snippet of the video is shared to your Instagram feed. Tap Continue.

Long Video option for uplaoding an IGTV video

4. Choose your video’s cover image from one of its frames. Alternatively, you may choose an image from your gallery. Tap Next.

selecting a cover image for your IGTV video

5. Fill out the title and description for your IGTV video. You also now have the option to Post a Preview of your video on your newsfeed and Make Visible on Facebook if you want to cross promote it.

"Post a preview" toggle option on IGTV video

You also are able add the video to an IGTV series from here. If you don’t already have an IGTV series, don’t worry. We’re going to show you how down below.

Once you’re done filling out your title and description. Tap Post in the top right. Voila! You just posted an IGTV video from your Instagram app!

How to upload an IGTV video from IGTV

1. Tap the + button in the top right.

Plus button on IGTV app

2. Choose a video 60 seconds or longer and tap Next.

choosing a long video from your gallery

3. Choose your video’s cover image from one of its frames. Alternatively, you may choose an image from your gallery. Tap Next.

choosing a cover image for your IGTV video from the app

4. Fill out the title and description for your IGTV video. You also now have the option to Post a Preview of your video on your newsfeed and Make Visible on Facebook if you want to cross promote it.

post a preview option on IGTV video before uploading

You also are able add the video to an IGTV series from here. If you don’t already have an IGTV series, don’t worry. We’re going to show you how down below.

Once you’re done filling out your title and description. Tap Post in the top right. Voila! You just posted an IGTV video from your IGTV app!

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!

How to create an IGTV series

Whether you want to create an IGTV series on your Instagram app or your IGTV app, the steps will be the same.

Here’s how to create an IGTV series:

1. Make sure you’re at the window where you fill out your title and description. Tap Add to Series.

"Add to series" button on IGTV video upload screen

2. Tap Create Your First Series.

"Create your first series" button on IGTV series screen

3. Fill out your series’s title and description. Then tap the blue checkmark in the top right.

blue checkmark in top right corner of New Series screen

4. Make sure the series you want your video to be a part of is selected. Then tap Done in the top right.

Screen showing a selected IGTV series called "My Series!"

That’s it! You just created a new IGTV series.

IGTV video specs

Here is all the video spec information you need for your IGTV video:

  • File format: MP4
  • Video length: At least 1 minute long
  • Maximum video length when uploading on mobile: 15 minutes
  • Maximum video length when uploading on web: 1 hour
  • Vertical aspect ratio: 9:16
  • Horizontal aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Minimum frame rate: 30 FPS (frames per second)
  • Minimum resolution: 720 pixels
  • Maximum file size for videos that are 10 minutes or less: 650MB
  • Maximum file size for videos up to 60 minutes: 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.

5 ways to use IGTV for business

Below are 5 ideas for IGTV videos or even series you can create for your brand.

Create tutorial videos

One great way to build engagement is through handy tutorial videos.

These how-to videos can cover a variety of different topics in your industry. For example, say you had a fitness brand. You could create a series focused on workout tutorials, or maybe one about healthy recipes.

If your organization sells a product, you can create a how-to video focused on how to use that product. There are a ton of possibilities for great IGTV series for your brand!

Host a Q&A session

A question and answer (Q&A) session with your audience is a great way to answer any pressing questions your followers might have.

It’s also a great opportunity to present some solid thought leadership on your industry.

Pro tip: Make a post on your Instagram feed and Story promoting your Q&A session beforehand. Be sure to ask your followers for questions then. You can use them during the IGTV recording!

Go behind the scenes

This is a great way to build transparency into your brand. By giving your audience a look at how your company works—whether that be by interviewing coworkers or simply touring your workspace—you humanize your brand to viewers.

That results in more trust between the audience and your organization. And brand trust is a crucial thing for everything from marketing to sales.

Stream an event

Hosting an event like a convention or a seminar? Share that with your viewers on your IGTV channel!

This is a great opportunity to allow those who couldn’t attend a chance to “attend” virtually. Your viewers will appreciate it, and you can give them content they can engage with.

Host a talk show

Ever dream of seeing your name under the “Tonight Show” banner? Now you can (kind of)!

You can host a talk show on your IGTV that’s centered on your brand. Have guests on who are influencers and thought leaders in your industry. Monologue about industry news. If you’re really ambitious, you can get your coworkers together and create an in-house band.

(Okay, maybe don’t do that last one.)

IGTV tips and 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 or business 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 2020, you can only search for profiles rather than videos on a specific topic (think: how you search for a YouTube video).

But Instagram is said to be working on changing that

.IGTV video called "Art timelapse: This is the extended version of my #coverpage for March" from @thegraytergood

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.

hashtag page for photos with #bulletjournal, including the video from the previous screenshot

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.

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