Photo by comminuet on Unsplash.

June 2018 was a big month for Instagram. Not only did the social network officially announce its milestone of reaching a billion active users, but it also rolled out its biggest feature since Stories: Instagram TV, the network’s gift to the online video streaming community. With Instagram as popular as it is, brands rushed to kickstart their video production on the platform—flexing their marketing brains and publishing intriguing video content as fast as they could make it. We got an eye-load of things like this, and weirdly enough, even some of this.

However, not many brands have been able to sustain their appeal beyond the initial pull of the feature’s novelty. Long periods of inactivity, duplicating content—the problems are many. Losing their momentum, many brands have floundered, leaving us with visual reminders of their sporadic attempts in the form of an odd mix of videos that have since gone stale.

Only a few brands have been able to successfully manage their IGTV presence—creating a niche for themselves and adding value to not just their existing brand, but also to the IGTV platform as a whole.

1. SoYummy – Finding harmony on the right platform

Have you ever sat through a 10-minute video by a brand and wondered “this could’ve been a lot shorter”? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. There’s a reason so many of you can relate to this conundrum and it’s not because video marketers are all somehow getting it wrong.

It’s because one of the decisive factors in video strategy today is this little thing called network algorithms. By looking at videos’ run-times, these algorithms decide which content shows up where on your feed. They’re also regularly being tweaked and changed, which plays a big role in deciding how lengthy brands and content creators make their videos.

And if brands don’t comply? Expect lower monetization.

A genre that often falls victim to this is the DIY/tutorial/How-To segment. Many of these videos are lengthened solely for monetization and its requisite ads.

So when IGTV came around, the food network So Yummy was able to do wonders with the shorter video format. Their Instagram channel is filled with quick recipes that cater to shorter attention spans and a large audience on a platform that naturally takes to their content.

2. Lele Pons – Bending the routine

The Queen of Vine—as she was called for being a breakout star on the now-defunct video network—internet celebrity Lele Pons has shown us how to use IGTV right. While her channel isn’t teeming with daily videos, she has pulled off a successful series that’s gotten her to the top of the “IGTV kick-starters” list.

Lele Pons used IGTV to promote a series that was an intersection between two of Instagram’s favorite pastimes: cooking and comedy. With her IGTV-exclusive “What’s Cooking,” she was able to make full use of the video format and length, and set up informal cook-offs with friends and celebrity chefs who featured on the show. While this wasn’t exactly a detour from her content on other monetizing platforms like Youtube, Pons ensured her series fit perfectly in the gap that IGTV was looking to fill.

For an entertainer with a video-first strategy like her, IGTV does something that long-established platforms like Youtube don’t—improving visibility based on followers alone, instead of pushing it down with an algorithm that prioritizes search results based on video length, content rating, and multiple other factors.

While this may be subject to change, given time and monetization, Pons—knowingly or unknowingly—showed us a way to increase a brand’s reach using a new platform and a new strategy, but with the same type of content.

3. NASA – New platform, new purpose

It’s not the usual suspect you’d expect to see on a list of brands acing social media—but NASA’s strategy here is better than you’d probably imagine. Their Twitter is abuzz with daily conversations and trends, their Youtube houses some out-of-this-world footage, live from the space station, and their Instagram feed is stacked with surreal photos of space.

With IGTV, the organization’s taken a more educational route with their content strategy. In 1-5 minute formats, NASA’s stream is full of informative videos like “Surface tension in space” and “How 3D Printing is revolutionizing the space experience” which, combined, have racked up over a million views.

Even if they’re cross-posting some of their daily content across platforms, this segmenting and network-based curation has helped them create a niche on IGTV.

4. Buzzfeed – Thinking beyond content

We know what you’re thinking. It helps that Buzzfeed is a $167 million revenue-producing company. Stay with me, here. There’s still an important subtext to a company as established as Buzzfeed having hit the ground running on IGTV—especially since many large-scale video-producing companies haven’t been able to find the positioning that Buzzfeed did. Instead of merely participating on the platform like other brands and trying to elbow out the competition, Buzzfeed is leveraging their video production muscle and large fan base to popularize IGTV as a concept.

Besides creating IGTV-exclusive videos, the company is partnering with Instagram to train video producers in an initiative called VerticalU, to produce IGTV-focused content. Coming up with a content strategy that doesn’t start and end with pure content alone has given Buzzfeed more than just an early-adopter advantage. This also affords them the opportunity to influence the video-production industry as a whole and set lasting, more enduring trends.

It often takes rethinking your content strategy to get it right on a new platform. While IGTV, as a platform itself, is still fledgling and slowly gaining ground on other established video networks, a good content marketing strategy always finds ways to rise to the top.

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