June of this year marked Instagram’s first effort to dethrone YouTube as the number one video content platform, with the launch their standalone app IGTV ,created for long-form vertical videos. Promising to be the biggest threat to YouTube in recent times, IGTV has so far failed to send shivers down the video giant’s spine. Even with 1 billion reported monthly active users on Instagram, IGTV is not seeing anything close to those number.
Influencers = Success?
Instagram’s calculated decision to highlight creators directly will be key to competing in the video space, where even Vimeo and Twitch can’t match YouTube’s popularity. It is was no coincident that IGTV promotional images highlighted fan favourites like former Vine star and actor King Bach.
Influencers are the backbones of all social media platforms. They dictate what’s in and what’s on its way out, (remember when Kylie Jenner declared Snapchat dead and the negative effect it had on the platform’s stocks). Their celebrity status and followers hold weight, and people, especially younger generations, are increasingly turning to influencers for their entertainment, product reviews and news.
The photo sharing giant wants to put the focus on the creators not the individual works of art with IGTV, making the platform personality driven. Without the full text search options, users do not have the ability to search for random things but rather explore Instagram’s latest addition through its creators. The unique format however, requires extra effort that creators might not wish to invest in since the payoff of reach and revenue remains unclear.
Michael Sayman, a former Facebook employee who now works at Google summed it up saying:
For IGTV to generate interest among users and gain momentum, the platform needs to give people a reason to open it by offering engaging content. Any cross-promotion traffic Instagram sends, for now is useless as there is no reason to stay. However, until creators see enough viewers on IGTV it will be hard to persuade them to utilize the platform since there are no obvious benefits.
IGTV is Crowning
Instagram has proven its ability to demolish its competition when it comes to offering a similar but better experience (RIP Snapchat), in fact this point, Instagram Stories was already proving to be a threat to Snapchat. However since IGTV is such a new space and only offers vertical videos, the road to success may be longer than anticipated. As it stands, YouTube is simply too big to fail and too important for video creators to not focus on. IGTV, can offer creators a more personal medium to deliver more spur of the moment content rather than pull them away from YouTube altogether.
YouTube was not an overnight success. It has spent the last 13 years cultivating its library and attracting a wide variety of content creators that keep audiences returning to the platform time and time again. IGTV is still in its crowning stage, not yet ready to take the social media world by storm but emerging into the digital stratosphere bit by bit. How it continues to mold itself around creators will determine its success. For now, we will just have to wait and see.