IGTV and The Evolution of Instagram
Over the past few years, there’s been one constant in a sea of change that is the social media landscape; Instagram is eating the world. The Facebook-owned social network can’t seem to miss, and has evolved far beyond a simple photo sharing app. Following the launch of IGTV, the question isn’t whether or not Instagram is important, it’s whether Instagram is the most important social network for marketers.
It wasn’t long ago that we posted here about the competition between Instagram and Snapchat, specifically as it relates to stories. Even then, over a year ago now, it was clear that Instagram was leaving the Yellow Ghost in the dust. The gap has only widened since then.
In June, Instagram announced that it had crossed the 1 Billion Monthly Active Users threshold. That means it’s growing faster than Snapchat, Facebook, and just about any other platform you can name. June also marked a landmark new feature for Instagram – the launch of IGTV. The new service saw Instagram expanding into the long-form field, allowing creators to upload videos up to an hour in length in vertical format. The immediate, and logical reaction: Instagram’s newest target is to compete with YouTube.
Our latest podcast covers the newest updates to Instagram, and whether or not it’s officially the app to beat in the social marketing space.
Video Podcast: The Evolution of Instagram
Phil DiMaritno: What’s going on everybody? I’m Phil DiMartino. This is Tyler Pyburn. We’re here today for another edition of the 5 Tool Productions video podcast, and today we’re going to be talking about Instagram and whether or not it is now the most important social channel. Basically of them all.
Tyler Pyburn: Well, it’s crazy. Over the course of time you’ve seen Instagram kind of take on another platforms. I feel like, you know, when Instagram first came out I was like, okay, it’s just about pictures. It’s the feed and that was it and it went up against Facebook. Facebook bought Instagram and they tried to buy snapchat and they said, nope, you can’t buy snapchat. We’re going to cost too much for you. Sorry. So they then turned Instagram into the snapchat killer. From there they’ve continued to grow and roll out different products, whether it’s live, whether it’s stories, and then now we’re seeing IGTV, which everybody’s saying that’s going up against YouTube. So right now we’re seeing Instagram basically take on all these other platforms. Which makes you wonder, is it in fact the most important of all the platforms?
Phil DiMaritno: Yeah, and I think the simple answer to really make this podcast worthless is yes, I think it is. I think the single most important social platform right now probably is Instagram. That doesn’t mean the other ones aren’t valuable, but I think that a lot of people sometimes forget that Instagram is officially an arm of Facebook and it almost feels to me, you mentioned a little bit that over the years since they’ve acquired Instagram, Facebook has made Instagram basically be the tool in which they can actually, they actually do stuff right? Like Facebook is there to drive the ad revenue and it’s there to – It’s always going to be there. It has the most, has the most active users of all the, of all the social networks by far, but it seems like they’ve used Instagram as a place to actually drive new features and do interesting things. And the really interesting thing is I think over the years people have grown to hate Facebook and that hasn’t happened with Instagram
Tyler Pyburn: We were just at a conference what less than a month ago and almost every single marketer that was up there just like, oh, I hate Facebook. I hate Facebook. There were people that say I have to be there, I still play with it and I still use it. Everybody does because you have to use it in order to be relevant. But on the flip side of things, they all hate it, but not one negative thing was said about Instagram. And I think what, what’s going on right now is people are seeing Instagram as just the biggest and best branding vehicle out there. It seems like you’re getting the most bang for your buck really.
Phil DiMaritno: Yeah, and I think the other part of it is that from a user perspective, like I still enjoy going on Instagram, like to scroll through my feed and just see what my friends are doing. I don’t necessarily feel that way about Facebook and I think the problem with Facebook, it’s from both ends, the user experience is not as good as it once was and for marketers and people trying to maintain a brand page, it’s like organic reach has plummeted. You feel like engagement’s gone way down. Those things haven’t really happened to Instagram as much, so you enjoy using it as a user, but also as a marketer you enjoy using it because it’s still kind of pure. And you talked about the feed now kind of is really just for photos. We can talk about that more in a second. Yeah. But stories is like the type of thing that just keeps you. There’s always something to go through on stories, right? It’s an endless…
Tyler Pyburn: Because you’re seeing everybody else’s day. It seems like the stories now you see some of the power players out there that are creating for stories. It’s most people that are really just updating you throughout the course and they telling you their story of what’s going on, so you’re seeing that more and more.
Phil DiMaritno: So you talk about the way that they’ve kind of tried to imitate these other platforms and you really do get the best of all worlds. Kind of all in one thing on Instagram now as an end user, so if you want to watch long form video now you can. If you want to just do quick hits and keep up with people throughout the course of the day, you can. You still get good photography. I think even people freaked out when they first introduced advertising to Instagram and when they changed the feed, but the feed on Instagram still feels pretty good to me. So overall like I think end users. I guess the bottom line that I’m trying to get to is I think end users still generally have a more positive feeling about Instagram than they do about Facebook, which is why it’s so valuable for marketers.
Tyler Pyburn: What’s interesting to compare and contrast things, so you compare it to Facebook, Facebook, I have all the friends and kind of businesses that I follow, right? And it’s cluttered with friends’ opinions about different things, not just pictures of their kids, which, you know, love to see them, but there’s opinions about politics and what businesses’ political agendas are. You see some of that on Instagram, but the one thing that I personally have really taken to on Instagram in particular is the ability to follow a Hashtag. So I’ll follow Chevy C10, which are old pickup trucks, right. You know, you could just. And same thing with, uh, with cameras as well. So I’ll follow, you know, video production as a Hashtag and see when things get published there. So I’ll be able to follow the Hashtag. So things that are top of mind for me that I enjoy clearly like looking at. I go ahead and follow those hashtags. So those topical conversations. Whereas Facebook, I don’t have that, I don’t have that option. I don’t have that choice for me as the end user going back to at the end of the day, all we really care about is the end user. All we want to know is, are we giving them what they want to see and they’re choosing what they want to see by following their different hashtags and so forth.
Phil DiMaritno: Right. I think one of the interesting things, if you look at growth, so Instagram growth is kind of still exponential. They just, in June of 2018 announced that they’re over a billion monthly active users. You look at the chart and it’s like the growth levels are insane. So they’re adding like they’re growing at a faster rate than any social network that, you know, Facebook is still adding. How is Facebook still adding users? And somehow Facebook is still adding users. Now, I believe there are over 2 billion monthly active, um, maybe two point two. I don’t know. It’s like a quarter of the world’s population.
Tyler Pyburn: Well, not all of them have the internet, so, how is that even possible?
Phil DiMaritno: Instagram is still growing exponentially so users are bearing it out, like people are still flocking to the platform in a way that they’re not to these other platforms, especially places like snapchat, which was billed as the next big one.
Tyler Pyburn: We usually see kind of the early adoption, right, where you see that big giant growth at the very beginning and then you see it kind of plateau a little bit. Exactly. This is the next big thing. You have to jump in on this. What was the, Oh my gosh, you can’t even think of the name of it?
Phil DiMaritno: Ello?
Tyler Pyburn: Ello, Ello, we were told to, you know, really look out for that.
Phil DiMaritno: And by the way, that shifted to be a really cool platform in its own right. But it’s more like artsy photography..
Tyler Pyburn: There was Veero as well but that platform we kept crashing so it because they couldn’t handle the bulk of the people that were jumping on. The thing that’s interesting now from a marketing perspective is the whole idea we haven’t touched upon. It is the IGTV. And that’s one thing I think we definitely should kind of dive into right now is because IGTV – like you said, the feeds are great, the lives of great, the stories are excellent. IGTV I can’t help but think it’s specific to brands, right. Whereas I feel like right now, not too many people are really leveraging and I’m seeing a handful of people on there and who knows, maybe we’ll put this up there, maybe you’ll be watching this on IGTV, but I haven’t seen a ton of people really leveraging it just yet. But I feel like when we first sent it back and forth, we were like, this seems like it’s perfect for brands.
Phil DiMaritno: And I think you’re right. I think it is. It’s probably – So when stories first came out, you couldn’t upload anything that was taken anywhere else into stories. You had to take it natively in stories. It was very much supposed to be document your day.
Tyler Pyburn: This is what’s going on throughout the course of the day.
Phil DiMaritno: And eventually over time they added features
Tyler Pyburn: They saw that people were recording it and downloading it and saying, oh I hate that one. Let me do a different version. Right?
Phil DiMaritno: Yeah. So they changed. It allowed people to upload over time. But IGTV launched so it’s only things that are in your camera roll
Tyler Pyburn: And long form.
Phil DiMaritno: Yeah, so it’s up to an hour and it things that are in your, that are in your camera roll, meaning you can bring them in, you know, you can produce them elsewhere and bring them in. Like it’s designed in with the idea in mind that people are going to be producing elsewhere and bringing them in here. And you can obviously just shoot on your camera or you know, turn around and shoot on yourself for up to an hour. But also just as likely, you know, you can take something like this, slap it on a vertical timeline and it allows brands to use Instagram in a way that they hadn’t before, like really thoughtful pre-production. And the thing is, you know, you have to do it in such a way that it’s going to allow it to be on vertical, right.
Tyler Pyburn: There are ways around it that I have seen a couple of people that literally take the 1080 video and they put giant bars on the top and bottom and they put, you know, what the text of the topic is and they put the subtitles underneath. So I’ve seen kind of that use case as well, which is perfectly fine. The thing that’s interesting going with platform versus platform is every single article out there right now that I’m seeing is IGTV versus YouTube. I’ve seen like I’ve heard a couple of podcasts about it and the one thing I feel like we’re missing is IGTV and Instagram, to me, and I could be wrong. It feels like they’re betting on everybody watching it solely on their phone. Right.
Phil DiMaritno: That’s why it’s all vertical, exactly.
Tyler Pyburn: Which is great. I have no problem with that. Whereas YouTube, I feel like YouTube is not betting it on just the phone. You’re a prime example of this where I know what we’re going to be talking about this in another podcast later about the idea of, um, YouTube tv, know the fact that you can actually put this on your television right now. I don’t see, you know, Instagram users go ahead and saying, okay, it’s on my phone, but I’m going to break it to my television screen right now when I’m not, I’m not going to pop it up here because it’s gonna to be that vertical screen. What Instagram seems to be banking on is the fact that people are going to be sitting there for up to an hour watching a show possibly or getting content fed to them just watching it right here vertically.
Phil DiMaritno: Right, And it’s an interesting bet and you know, I don’t think that I have the answer as to which way it’s gonna play out. But I can tell you that I think that, you know, a lot of people have talked about IGTV being like a YouTube competitor, YouTube killer, but I think the point you’re making is a good one in that they’re really for different, for different use cases, you know, YouTube at this point, you can watch it on your smart tv, you might beam from your chromecast to your tv, you can watch on your phone obviously, but they’re looking for different type of audience potentially. So the idea of it being a competitor, sure, it’s long form video that brands can use. So in that sense it is, but they’re really laser focused on that mobile first experience, which maybe will be, maybe it will be the differentiator and you know, YouTube will be left behind if they don’t focus on that enough themselves.
Tyler Pyburn: Don’t get me wrong, but I think YouTube will still – and you might see them start to cater to that a little bit more, but I don’t think basically, I don’t think TV’s and television screens are going away. We’re still going to watch them, but in a slightly different way. Right.
Phil DiMaritno: Right. And you mentioned, you know, we talk about OTT, over the top and in other places beyond this video will get more in depth in it. But um, you know, Instagram is not getting served on my tv at any time. Right? Like I’m not going beam it to my tv unless they change their model and like it doesn’t seem like they have any intention for doing that when their long-form video service is vertical, which is fine.
Tyler Pyburn: Yeah, I know. I mean even in my household, my two year old is watching videos on his phone this way right there, watching it vertically this way. Like you guys are supposed to be able to see this way versus this way. But he’s watching it vertically. Right. So I mean that’s what is taking place. There is no debate about that. That’s on the rise. People watching it horizontally aren’t watching it nearly as much or if there’s not growth I should say. I’m sure that people are still watching horizontal videos. I mean I tend to turn the phone because I liked the widescreen look but still we are seeing a rise in people watching and tuning in that way.
Phil DiMaritno: I mean you remember even just a couple of years ago, if you shot video vertically and then uploaded to the internet, you were like a pariah, right? Because it would be – And it wasn’t because it’s wrong or bad, it’s just because the platforms didn’t accept it appropriately, right? It didn’t display appropriately. So the idea of that being like mobile first and the user experience being the most important thing where like they know people are like traveling and commuting and they want to just hold their phone and not have to turn it. Maybe that’ll make it – it could potentially be like a really, really positive thing for marketers to be able to say, you know, I’m going to be able to reach people the way they want to be reached on mobile. Right. I think, I think it’s potentially like a revolutionary thing for, for a mobile app, one of the biggest mobile apps in the world to be able to say we’re putting user experience first. But it changes the whole way you think about shooting video, right? The only way you shoot, the only way that you’re recording video natively in vertical format is on a phone. On professional video cameras, you’re not recording it that way.
Tyler Pyburn: Which makes you wonder will they ever make a camera that does that. And actually I even saw the other day someone had their DSLR turned sideways the way you would take a portrait photograph they were filming, they were recording that way as well so that it’s all ready to go in post production to make it very quick. That’s really interesting. It’s really interesting to see if maybe that’s going to be turned and obviously, you know, compared to your point and shoot cameras versus your DSLRS – DSLRS, their primary focus was for photography, not for video. Maybe we’re going to see some more of those tripods with the heads that can tilt as well.
Phil DiMaritno: That’s actually a really interesting point. Yeah. Kind of cool. I hadn’t really thought about that too much before, just now. But that’s a really interesting point. And you do wonder, um, who’s to say a TV can’t turn, can’t turn vertically, right. Do you do it all the time at conferences and things like that.
Tyler Pyburn: Mine won’t fit above my mantle like that, so I can’t do that.
Phil DiMaritno: But I agree with you that TV’s aren’t going away short term, but if this audience that’s now like 13 years old grows up and they’re just used to doing everything on their phones, maybe they won’t want to go drop $500 on a new TV. Maybe they’re perfectly happy using their phone and TV sales go down and everything is more mobile focused. I don’t really know.
Tyler Pyburn: Well it was funny. Over the course of time you saw phones, the big one that came out, the Zack Morris phone, right? That nokia black phone that everybody had. I think when I was a senior in high school, so you had that phone. Then all of a sudden the phones got really, really small to your little teeny tiny phones, which I remember. Everybody makes fun of me still to this day from holding the phone here and then having to talk, let’s talk. But then all of a sudden they got bigger, larger screens. You see some of the new iphones that’s just come out. Your phone – Your android is the screens’ massive on it. Right? So it’s actually, it’s not really all that small, not to mention the crispness of them is incredible as well.
Phil DiMaritno: Right, the display is even better than a TV potentially. So. Exactly. In any case, Instagram the most important social platform, yes?
Tyler Pyburn: I agree. I definitely agree. Yes. At this moment in time, put a stake in the ground when we record this. That’s what happens. In a month from now – If you’re watching this like a month after we publish it, um, it might have changed.
Phil DiMaritno: And the very quick followup to put a bow on this too, is it worth it for content creators to spend significant time and energy investing in IGTV? Or is it still too early?
Tyler Pyburn: The sample size is tiny, so there aren’t huge numbers to see what the type of reach organically there is out there. But you have to try the new things. You have to try the new kid on the block, see how it works.
Phil DiMaritno: Yeah, I think it’s worth it short term because…
Tyler Pyburn: We haven’t tried enough, honestly,
Phil DiMaritno: No we haven’t. But you know, you mentioned like not a ton of brands have done a ton with it yet. That leads to the fact that, you know, first of all, the algorithms, whenever Facebook and Instagram introduce new things, new shiny things, they prioritize them in the algorithm, so if you use them, you’re going to get a boost, and also if you go on Instagram and you’ve updated your app so that you have IGTV, you’ll notice that when a page or a brand or a person you follow uses – uploads something to IGTV, you get a specific notification about it, which is another good reason to at least get a short term gain to get in front of people. So definitely I think, I think you know…
Tyler Pyburn: Us it to your advantage.
Phil DiMaritno: Don’t bet the farm on anything social like don’t put all your resources – don’t put all your eggs in one basket here for anything with social, but it’s definitely worth it in my mind. Instagram is not going anywhere.
Tyler Pyburn: Not going anywhere at all. He’s Phil, I’m Tyler. I guess we’ll see you guys next time.