Skip to main content

IGTV: What You Need to Know About the Instagram Video-Sharing App

Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker specializing in sales and marketing topics for coaches, consultants, and solopreneurs.

Learn how to get started with IGTV and use it most effectively.

Learn how to get started with IGTV and use it most effectively.

On June 20, 2018, photo- and video-sharing social media network, Instagram, launched IGTV, first as a separate app. Later, it was fully integrated into the Instagram platform and the IGTV standalone app was removed.

What exactly is IGTV? How should authors and content creators use IGTV? How does it compare to YouTube? And will IGTV be a threat to YouTube?

I’m on Instagram (@heidithorne) and use IGTV regularly. So here are my initial impressions and insight on this newer entry in the social media and video content space.

Vertical Orientation for IGTV Videos

Of all the features that IGTV offers, this is certainly going to be the favorite of many, including me! IGTV videos, like all videos on Instagram, are viewed vertically.

We mostly use our smartphones in the vertical position, right? So this is definitely a welcome feature, and it's one reason why some people think it will present a challenge to the horizontally oriented YouTube (to be discussed again in a bit).

Here's an example of the vertical orientation in IGTV videos.

Here's an example of the vertical orientation in IGTV videos.

Video Time Allotment

IGTV allows longer videos than standard Instagram posts' 60-second limit. A 15-minute IGTV video can be uploaded from a mobile device. A 60-minute IGTV is allowed if uploaded from the internet.

Users can choose to post a preview of the longer IGTV video on their standard Instagram news feed. They can also share a preview of their IGTV videos in Instagram Stories. Clicking on the preview in the Feed or Stories will send users to IGTV to watch the whole video.

With these sharing features, users will be less tempted to load up Stories with a lot of annoying fragmented 15-second video posts. Nice job, Instagram!

What Kinds of Videos Should You Post on IGTV?

Where I think users will have some challenges is in figuring out what video content to put on IGTV. As just discussed, IGTV could be used for any content that’s traditionally been too long for the standard Instagram platform. As on YouTube, videos are UPLOADED to IGTV.

Unlike Instagram Stories videos, IGTV content does not disappear. This makes it more akin to YouTube. Therefore, evergreen content is a good fit for IGTV.

Sharing Your IGTV Videos

Within the IGTV app itself, “sharing” (the little wings icon) is weirdly limited to sharing with other selected followers on Instagram or to Stories, at least as of this writing. () You can also share your IGTV videos to your Facebook Page (business page) during the upload process.

You can grab a link to your IGTV video (click the "..." on your video and click "Copy Link") and share it on social media or wherever. It will show up in a browser and can be played on that page without having to go to the Instagram app.

Aside from these sharing options, there aren't extensive sharing options as there on a YouTube. This is likely due to the native social media trend where social networks hope to keep you on their sites, and not click away.

Scroll to Continue

How Does IGTV Compare to YouTube?

Vertical Versus Horizontal App

The most obvious visible difference between IGTV and YouTube is the physical orientation. IGTV is vertical (portrait mode), YouTube is horizontal (landscape mode).

This has always been a problem with YouTube, especially in the YouTube mobile app. In the YouTube app, you’ll see only a mini rendition of the video (with the distraction of other video listings, etc.) while holding the phone vertically, and have to turn it sideways to view it full screen. On IGTV, the video fills the entire vertical screen. A better mobile user experience for sure.

But in terms of delivery of content where a large screen enhances the user experience—movies, television shows, video games, sports, etc.—YouTube wins. YouTube is a replacement for television. IGTV is not.

Searching and Hashtags

YouTube is one of the Internet’s most powerful search engines by itself (aside from its parent, Google). Why? Because after its acquisition by Google, it was melded into the Google search engine universe, with many videos often receiving organic placement on Google search results.

Plus, when you upload a video to YouTube, you have the ability to craft a title and description that contain search-friendly keywords. It allows you to enter keywords that are relevant to your video. On top of that, if you want to boost your video’s search friendliness even more, you can upload a video transcript that the search robots will love.

Instagram and IGTV rely heavily on hashtags for search and discovery functions. True, you could enter a keyword in the Instagram search function to find relevant videos. But IGTV and Instagram are more dependent on influencers and personalities as the providers and filters of information, as opposed to search. So use those hashtags in your IGTV video descriptions!

Will IGTV Be a Threat to YouTube?

It will remain to be seen whether IGTV will deliver any significant blow to YouTube’s dominance in the video space. I see them as two completely separate products and functions. IGTV is really just an extension of Instagram, and possibly Facebook, not a separate entity.

Though it has sometimes been described as a social network, YouTube is more of an information and entertainment platform that has mirrored or replaced broadcast television... especially now with its YouTubeTV program.

My recommendation for content creators would be to use both IGTV and YouTube, but to use them each differently for the purposes for which each was designed.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can a user see who viewed their Instagram TV post?

Answer: In my Instagram notifications, I'll get alerts on "so-and-so liked [or commented on] your IGTV video." But in IGTV itself, the insights don't show exactly who "viewed" the video. It just shows the number of views.

Here's what's interesting. On Instagram Stories, you will see who viewed your story (whether video or photo). It would be nice to have that feature on IGTV videos, but it isn't available from what I can see.

© 2018 Heidi Thorne


Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on August 03, 2018:

Hi Rajan! It is so early in the IGTV game right now! I am watching how this plays itself out over the next months. I see a lot of Insta folks posting on IGTV, but I don't see a lot of them inviting people to view what's on IGTV. Interesting.

Since we're connected on Instagram, we'll both watch this story unfold.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 31, 2018:

This is the first time I have heard of IGTV and from what I understand from this article is that it is in a very nascent stage as compared to Youtube. A comparison between the two is just too early.

All the same, I think the video orientation will play a big role in deciding users preference between the two.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on July 15, 2018:

Flourish, I'm even sometimes a bit behind my techno peers! ;) I saw some posting about IGTV on Insta after it came out and I thought, "How did I miss this?"

There, indeed, are some differences between it and YouTube. How that will play out is still a huge question. But I'd rather be ahead of the curve than behind it.

Thanks for stopping by and hope you're having a terrific weekend!

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 14, 2018:

You are so cutting edge with marketing and technology. I hadn’t heard of this and here you are explaining the difference between this and YouTube.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on July 14, 2018:

Linda, thanks for reading even if you're unsure of how you'll use Instagram/IGTV. But I'm glad you're sharing your photos on Insta! Thanks for following me on HP and Instagram... and have a great weekend!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 13, 2018:

Thanks for sharing the information, Heidi. I don't know whether I'll ever create a video on Instagram, but it's certainly interesting to learn about it.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on July 13, 2018:

Bill, I have to say that, like you, I'm not an Instagram kind of author. But I'm giving it a try for some of my marketing efforts. I'd so rather be just writing text for HP or my books.

Hope it's good weather where you are. Hot as heck here in Chicago (90s). Have a great weekend, too!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on July 13, 2018:

Mary, with all your amazing photos of the places you visit, Instagram could be a great platform to check out. But, as with all social media, there's learning curve and it requires patience and persistence.

If you do hop on to the Instagram/IGTV bandwagon, follow me over there so we can connect there, too. (I'm @heidithorne.)

Thanks so much for stopping by and have a beautiful weekend!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on July 13, 2018:

Liz, it's not surprising that you haven't run across it yet. It's so new... like less than 1 month new! But I hope you will check it out, if not to use yourself, but to see some of the content that's over there.

Thanks so much for chiming in! Have a great weekend!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 13, 2018:

I just don't see this happening for me, Heidi. I'm not an Instagram kind of guy, and don't have the time to learn how to operate it...but thanks for the information. I'll put it in your file just in case.

Have a stupendous weekend!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 13, 2018:

This is really interesting to follow how IGTV will perform and how the social media crowd will embrace it. I seldom go to Instagram but I think I will enhance my presence there. Maybe the engagement will change for more interaction.

Liz Westwood from UK on July 13, 2018:

I haven't come across this before. This gives a very honest and useful appraisal.

Related Articles