Instagram’s launch of a longform video sharing service called IGTV was marketed primarily to individual “creators” and consumer audiences, but at least one enterprise software company is already using it to educate its target audience.
While Instagram started primarily as a photo-sharing service, it has expanded in recent years with Instagram Stories, a simple way for users to upload and weave together a mixture of images and video on which they can type text and draw with their fingertips. Much like the Stories feature from rival Snapchat, Instagram Stories’ videos were limited to 15 seconds, but IGTV will allow clips of up to an hour.
“Just like turning on the TV, IGTV starts playing as soon as you open the app. You don’t have to search to start watching content from people you already follow on Instagram and others you might like based on your interests,” Instagram explained in a blog post. “You can swipe up to discover more — switch between ‘For You,’ ‘Following,’ ‘Popular’ and ‘Continue Watching.’ You can also like, comment and send videos to friends in Direct.”
Instagram has long been used by some B2B brands to showcase their customers, corporate culture and even some of their physical products. However YouTube has traditionally been the main conduit to upload tutorials, webinars and other enterprise-friendly video content. More recently, LinkedIn has been encouraging its network of professional users to share business tips and other kinds of informational content.
Early adopters of IGTV in the B2B space include Cambridge, Mass.-based HubSpot Inc., which makes inbound marketing and sales software and launched its own channel just a few days after the Instagram announcement. Its first clip is simple, featuring a bearded, hoodie-wearing male spokesperson standing against a wall, interspersed with stock footage as B-roll. Perhaps not surprisingly, the subject of the clip is IGTV itself, which HubSpot suggested should have a strong appeal to business as well as consumer users.
“It’s a sign that Instagram is ready to go all-in on vertical video on mobile,” says the HubSpot spokesman, who is not identified in the clip, “(which is) the most natural experience for anyone with a smartphone.”
HubSpot said IGTV is definitely a sign of Instagram “taking a swing at YouTube,” and suggested the Facebook-owned social service wants users to think of it as a place to look for specific content rather than merely waste some free time.
“Once IGTV is up and running, it almost goes without saying that Instagram is going to use this as an opportunity to run advertisements,” the HubSpot spokesman said.
Some other examples of B2B firms on IGTV include SalesLoft, which has uploaded what looks like a pre-existing clip on “sales inspiration,” and consulting firm Accenture’s Chilean branch, which uploaded a clip on how it celebrated Pride Month.
One of the challenges with Instagram, of course, is that is not only more oriented to consumers but to individuals. Emelina Spinelli, an Instagram marketing consultant based in California, suggested brands think about how their key “influencers” are, whether they are internal subject matter experts or customers, and use them to showcase ideas on IGTV.
“People want a more personal connection,” she told B2B News Network. “It would be really great to show who’s the face of their company.”
Spinelli predicted large companies will be first to try out IGTV while small businesses with fewer resources will take longer. That said, it’s not necessary to start from scratch with producing content for Instagram.
“If you’re producing video content anywhere, I think that can be doubled up,” she said. “I think right now, just when looking at what’s on there straight out of the gate, people are definitely doubling up from (what they’re making for) YouTube.”
Besides offering a new channel for B2B brands to market themselves, IGTV could also create changes in tools companies use to manage social media activity.
“We are closely monitoring to see how the Instagram community responds to IGTV, and where brands are deciding to use it,” said Melbourne-based Schedugram in a blog post. “Based on the popularity of IGTV over the first few weeks of launch, we’ll look at how we might add it to our platform.”