Social Video Strategy: Should brands be swapping YouTube for IGTV?

The launch of IGTV had many people debating whether Instagram’s new long-form video content feature would be the silver bullet that kills YouTube. Described as the shiny new small screen on which ‘anyone will be able to become famous’, IGTV is accessible in the main Instagram platform or to download as a standalone app. It’s been built with content creators in mind, allowing everyday users to publish vertical video up to ten minutes long. If you’re a social media influencer with a considerable audience, this extends to one hour.

The question is, will influencers (a part of the marketing strategy that nowadays, brands simply can’t overlook) stick to using the behemoth that is YouTube to publish long-form video, defect to IGTV or switch between the two? And should you be considering IGTV in your brand’s digital video strategy?

What is IGTV?

Instagram coupled the launch of IGTV with the announcement that its follower base had rocketed to 1bn monthly active users, making it the third largest social platform, behind Facebook in the lead spot and YouTube in second place.

Pshaw, I hear you say. What’s the big deal? Facebook has 2.8bn users. True, but Instagram’s parent company has been building that audience since 2004. After being acquired by Facebook in 2012, Instagram’s growth rocketed to more than five times the size of Snapchat. That’s a pretty impressive rate.

Currently, there are no ads within the platform, although this is likely to change in the future with Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, stating the platform is “obviously a very reasonable place [for ads] to end up” and that, in the future, he’ll want to reward creators by monetizing the content. This is, at least initially, a draw for digital consumers who can’t stand YouTube ads on their favourite influencers’ content.

Should we wave goodbye to YouTube?

Good question. Nobody can doubt Instagram has a knack for ‘borrowing’ concepts that are already out there and pulling them off better (Instagram Stories, anyone? Bad luck Snapchat.). It’s early days but those who claim Instagram is encroaching on YouTube’s audience with the launch probably aren’t wrong – however, with more and more people watching less traditional TV, the majority of social platforms are making big plays for video. So, it’s not just Instagram that YouTube should be worrying about!

YouTube is still the most powerful platform in terms of watch time, with 300 hours of video uploaded every minute and nearly five billion videos watched every day. It’s been around since 2005 and has content covering just about every subject you can think of. A wider demographic appears to use YouTube, with 35+ and 55+ being the fastest growing age groups on the platform. According to Sprout Social, Instagram’s biggest audience group is 18-29-year olds, so it seems likely IGTV will generally be consumed by a younger audience.

One stark difference is the format – while Instagram has been designed for vertical video, naturally recorded on a smartphone, YouTube’s horizontal format will continue to work well for cinematic or TV style content like music videos and trailers.

Only time will tell if IGTV will give the Goliath of digital video a run for its money. IGTV has a pretty big task in clocking up daily video watch times similar to YouTube. However, it’s worth noting that Instagram Stories is Facebook’s fastest ever growing product. If IGTV follows in its successful footsteps, YouTube might have something to worry about.

Which suits influencers best?

One benefit for influencers whose fan bases predominantly live on Instagram is their followers will automatically have access to their IGTV. This means influencers can leverage their current audience getting long-form content in front of them, without having to direct them to YouTube where their following may be less established - or they may have no presence at all.

The appeal to switch is strong for micro influencers after YouTube announced controversial new monetisation rules in January 2018. The guidelines state channels now need to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time within the last year to generate ad revenue. Previously, content creators only required 10,000 total views to run ads. And if anyone can truly become famous on the platform, less established influencers may discover a more even playing field to publish their content.

Contrastingly, big-time influencers may stay loyal to YouTube as they already make big bucks on the platform, while IGTV’s monetisation strategy is still in the works.

So which platform should my social video strategy focus on?