Instagram did their best to promote IGTV, their new long-form video platform which launched in June 2018. The launch event had delays because of problems with formatting for the presentation Instagram had planned to showcase and it has been downhill progress from there. When it was announced, it was slated to a YouTube competitor but with rapidly changing social media trends, IGTV couldn’t keep up especially with rival apps with much better features such as TikTok.
Instagram went wild promoting IGTV where it could. IGTV was solely dedicated to vertical videos and with low traction numbers, they decided to include support for landscape video. This didn’t help much as you could watch the new landscape videos in portrait but with the black bars on top and below – unless you changed your phone’s orientation to landscape to expand the videos to fully cover the screen.
Even with this new effort, it has been a hard nut to crack for the video format to become as popular as Instagram Stories. They even redesigned the whole layout to look like its rival apps – vertical scroll interface instead of the horizontal scrolling carousel just like TikTok. They even included the “For You”, “Following”, “Popular”, and “Continue Watching” categories tab and switched to the one main feed TikTok has.
This move was a bad idea for IGTV as TikTok uses one central feed for short clips, unlike IGTV whose purpose was to host long-form video.
In a bid to promote IGTV on the main app, Instagram put IGTV shortcut next to shopping as the first priority in their redesigned Explore page followed by channels or topics ranging from Style, Nature, Architecture among others depending on your preferences and relevant interests.
Without focussing on giving creators tools for making the right content for the IGTV platform and teaching them how to find what works with the new vertical format plus giving them the right incentives like other video platforms such as Facebook watch, IGTV will always play second fiddle no matter the redesign.
Vertical video makes extra work for a creator, who must either shoot a new video or reformat an existing horizontal one before uploading it to IGTV. Meanwhile, for most creators, YouTube still offers the potential of a bigger audience.
Top IGTV creators are even finding it hard to garner views – if you scroll through the platform’s first 20 videos, you’ll notice that they have fewer than 200,000 views. Creators with close to 10 million followers have fewer videos that reach 500,000 views.
IGTV icon gathered cobwebs
To increase audience numbers on IGTV, Instagram had the IGTV icon on the app’s homepage to redirect users to the video platform. It was a small orange TV icon that was noticeable on the top right corner of your feed next to the DM icon.
Very few users were clicking on it and if they were it was by accident so Instagram has decided to kill off the dedicated IGTV button. The standalone IGTV app has been downloaded by 1% of Instagram’s members – 1 billion users in the 18 months since launch which is disappointing as in the same period, TikTok received 1.15 billion downloads – install ads helped but still.
“As we’ve continued to work on making it easier for people to create and discover IGTV content, we’ve learned that most people are finding IGTV content through previews in Feed, the IGTV channel in Explore, creators’ profiles and the standalone app. Very few are clicking into the IGTV icon in the top right corner of the home screen in the Instagram app. We always aim to keep Instagram as simple as possible, so we’re removing this icon based on these learnings and feedback from our community,” a Facebook company spokesperson told TechCrunch.
This point makes sense as most people without the standalone app including me interact with IGTV when their friends share IGTV videos on their stories.
IGTV is not going away anytime soon
IGTV, Instagram and Facebook will still be here but as social media trends evolve, the competition is heating up with TikTok creeping in and grabbing users in Zuckerberg-owned platforms.