By Taylor Smithfield
The way we consume content has always been driven by technology. The printing press, radio, moving pictures, television, live television, 3D, online video, video chats, streaming videos, live video, virtual reality — these forms of communication have dramatically shaped our experiences with entertainment and information sharing over the years.
Technology has long since shaped our habits and interests. People listened with rapt attention as the voice of Mary Margaret McBride, the First Lady of Radio, piped from their wireless five days a week. Their eyes were glued to black and white moving pictures of talking heads reporting world news or film giant Jimmy Stewart struggling to fit all 6 feet 3 inches of himself onscreen. As technology morphed, so did people’s consumption habits. They were just along for the ride.
And nothing has really changed today. Now, people simply carry tiny screens in their pockets — how predictable! And whenever there’s a new trend, people are eager to experience it for themselves. However, just like the BlackBerry, AOL and TiVo, not all tech will survive the test of time.
Competition Drives Advancement
June 20, 2018, the internet was abuzz with the announcement of Instagram’s new long-form video feature, IGTV. If you’re familiar with Instagram, the app has dramatically increased in popularity over the last few years, and today is one of the premier platforms for marketing merchandise and increasing fan loyalty. Yes, Instagram is a house for photos and short video clips, but it’s not exactly a place for you to reconnect with Aunt Maggie. It’s a social hub for people who crave quality content. Millions of businesses engage with fans in uniquely personal ways, creating thriving communities through an Instagram page.
Before IGTV, Instagram supported video but clips couldn’t exceed 60 seconds, which is an excellent way to quickly consume content, but it restricted brands from creating longer content for dedicated fans. Without a doubt, YouTube has long dominated online video, and we’ve yet to see anyone successfully compete with the platform. But because businesses never enjoy sending customers elsewhere, IGTV is Instagram’s response to YouTube. Competition drives advancement, right?
Supply, Meet Demand
We’ve previously discussed the importance of utilizing Instagram, Instagram Stories and YouTube for your business. Now, let’s discuss how IGTV fits into the mix. IGTV is unique in that it displays vertical video. Yes, vertical, as in the orientation you usually hold a smartphone. However, vertical video has split the internet. Is it practical or a passing fad?
When vertical videos first started to come out, they were initially frowned upon because they were tight on space. Widescreen TVs are popular for a reason, right? Because the world has gone mobile, it makes sense to meet people where they are. People hold their phones vertically 94 percent of the time anyway.1 This is Instagram’s way of putting the mobile experience first, or letting the dog wag its own tail, if you will.
“The visual story you’re trying to tell should always come first,” Instagram shared in a blog post. “And we want to make it simple and fun for you to share moments the way you want to.” It’s a classic supply-and-demand scenario.
Creating Custom IGTV Content
So how does IGTV stack up to YouTube? Unlike YouTube, people check Instagram multiple times a day; they tend to live on the platform. In contrast, people often visit YouTube to watch a specific video or a particular channel. YouTube doesn’t have a live feed so there are less reasons to visit. It’s much easier to catch potential customers on a platform where they already spend a significant amount of time.
While Instagram only allows users to upload video directly from their phone, the IGTV app also allows uploads from a desktop computer. They’re hoping to encourage more polished, edited content rather than what one might quickly shoot with their iPhone.
As with any new technology, the question is whether you can (or should) fit it into your branding and marketing strategies. IGTV can be used to create all kinds of content from product reviews, unboxings, how-tos, behind-the-scenes, interviews, tours of your facility, safety tips or information about new laws or the political climate.
Industry leaders have quickly adopted IGTV channels, including the NRA, Colion Noir (the host of the NRA’s web series “NOIR”), Mossy Oak, Realtree, Benelli USA and Springfield Armory, to name a few. Realtree, in particular, is doing an excellent job of creating IGTV custom content. Their channel features a wildlife cooking series called “Timber 2 Table.” One episode (“Woodsong: Where Music Meets the Woods”) includes an engaging interview with musician/hunter Dallas Davidson and a professional product review of Bear Archery’s Approach HC bow by David Blanton, Realtree’s VP of TV production. Guns Daily, with 1.7 million followers, is also successfully utilizing IGTV with two short features called “First Shots” and “Feature Friday” where they test firearms and accessories on camera.
Stand Out From The Noise
As you already know from previous columns, the power of video content marketing and utilizing YouTube to reach audiences is undeniable. With IGTV, there are many ways a firearms manufacturer, gun shop owner or outdoor company can connect with customers on a regular basis. Offering something of value (how-tos or product reviews) or building a trusted relationship with your audience helps your brand gain a wide and engaged audience.
I encourage you to check out how firearm brands are taking advantage of IGTV. It’s an exciting time to be among the first adopters! YouTube is an extremely saturated market, therefore it’s often very difficult to stand out from the noise. IGTV, on the other hand, is brand new and offers a unique opportunity for your store to be one of the first to gain popularity. Let’s usher in the video of the future, together.