Instagram TV (IGTV): The Ultimate Guide

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It might seem like there is a new feature for a social media app every month. With Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Youtube, Twitter, and others in constant competition, there is always something new going on in the social media sphere.

As a business, or even just as a savvy user of these platforms, it’s in your best interest to stay on top of these trends and leverage the improvements and features as they appear to better please and deliver content to your followers.

One new feature that has jumped into the spotlight recently is Instagram TV.

What is Instagram TV?

Instagram TV, or IGTV, is Instagram’s brand new video platform. IGTV focuses on vertical, long-form videos and it’s available as a standalone app, and also as a feature in the native Instagram app.

Instagram TV will be more similar to Youtube than something like Hulu, Netflix, HBO, or any of the other streaming video platforms that offer professionally produced narrative content. IGTV is intent on providing user-generated content from your favourite brands, influencers, bloggers, and vloggers.

This means that while it has a TV in its name, it is more of an online video sharing platform.

By offering creators another place to share their content, Instagram TV is making a strong play in the online video market. It’s also a plus for you as a brand. Users will not see this as another platform for professional video, so you as a brand will have a chance to be creative and provide content without the need for a large budget or a professional production team.

Unlike other video platforms, Instagram TV will focus entirely on vertical video. Think Instagram Stories or Snapchat videos versus something like a traditional Youtube video. This will be familiar to people who are already used to sharing stories on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat but may be new to folks who have just been using the standard Instagram experience or are coming from Youtube. This video style adds something unique to the experience and has the potential to change user expectation when it comes to video from a social media platform. However, there is a vocal contingent of people who are against vertical videos entirely, so it will be interesting to see how things play out.

It is possible to upload horizontal video to IGTV, but it is not the optimal or intended experience. If you do upload a horizontal video, Instagram will either add a border to the video or require the user to rotate their device to see the video. This isn’t the intended way to view video and will feel out of place on the platform. Vertical video is much better for mobile devices because it doesn’t force you to rotate your camera to view the content in the way it was meant to be seen.

Those who manage social media accounts may not like this, however. It could require two shots of content that they would want to share. For example, you might have to shoot once to share on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. And you’ll need to shoot again to have a vertical video that you can share on Instagram in the native Vertical format.

Instead, the vertical video offers users a more accessible way to share content. The vertical video does not feel as produced and will help to encourage regular users to share more content without having to feel like they need to enlist a professional camera crew to create content for their account.

Instagram TV is an attempt by Instagram to bring the TV to modern mobile devices. With the growing popularity of Youtube and the fact that younger people are spending less time watching traditional television, IGTV is an attempt to make long-form video a vital part of the Instagram experience. Like youtube, anyone can create a channel. Larger accounts can post a video up to an hour long, but smaller accounts will see a limit of 10 minutes.

As of right now, there are no ads on Instagram TV videos, but in the future, you can expect this to change. Instagram has said they want to focus on engagement at first, and let users adjust to the platform.

IGTV is available for both iOS and Android devices, and you can either download the standalone app or get started using it in your Instagram app now. Instagram will be curating Instagram TV in a similar way to how you already view popular and current content that Instagram thinks will be right for you.

Instagram TV will also make it easy to watch the content you like. If you download the new app, a video will begin playing as soon as the app opens. This will help to make the experience feel a bit more like regular TV, in that when you ’turn it on’, it starts playing. When you want to change channels, all you have to do is swipe, and you will see different video start playing. This allows you to easily navigate through content in a way that feels like TV, but will also feel familiar to you if you’ve used apps like Snapchat or Instagram Stories.

There are currently three categories for you to see in IGTV. ‘For You’, ‘Following’, and ‘Popular’. ‘For You’ will be an algorithm that Instagram has put together to show you a video that they think you’ll be interested in based on what you follow, the kind of content you like, and other factors that Instagram can study to try and present relevant content to you. ‘Following’ is a collection of people who you are following on Instagram. This is a collection of the accounts you follow on Instagram already. If you follow someone on Instagram TV, you will also be following their regular Instagram account. This goes the same for your account as well. If someone follows you on IGTV, they will also be following your regular account. And last but not least, ‘Popular’. This will be a collection of what is trending on IGTV. What is most popular on the platform, and most likely what Instagram decides is worthy of promoting to users of IGTV. This will be the section that savvy users and large accounts will be striving to appear.

Given all of these details, you’re probably wondering if you should be making the steps to use IGTV for your account. If you have a large following or are already using video somewhere else, the answer is most definitely yes! However, if you’re on the fence about it, you can take a small step by just signing in and using the app.

How do you create a channel?

IGTV sounds excellent, but to participate, you’ll need to create a channel. Creating a channel is not difficult, but will require a few extra steps. It will also require you to master another set of features on Instagram, so you’ll want to make sure you are comfortable with how Instagram works before venturing out into the wild of Instagram TV.

To create a channel, you will need to first sign up using the IGTV app.

Next, you will want to log into the app with your account and click the settings gear icon in the right-hand corner. When you have that open, you can then click ‘create a channel’. That is all there is to it.

You can now start creating videos!

If you want to upload a video, you’ll need to go to your channel page, and there you will see a button in the right-hand corner that will allow you to add a vertical video to your channel from your camera roll. At this point, you can add a title and description to your video. You can also include links here. These links can take users outside of the app.

If your video features a new product, for example, you could link to your store and users would be able to click the link and be taken to your storefront outside of the app.

You are also able to add a cover photo to your video. This will allow you to help better catch the eye of potential viewers so be creative and choose an image that you know will motivate potential viewers to click on your video and engage with your content. After you click to post your video will be live, and you can focus on engaging with your viewers via the comments.

Instagram is also offering analytics for your IGTV videos. By clicking the ‘…’ the button beside the like, comment, and share buttons on your IGTV video you can navigate to ‘View Insights’ which will allow you to see your views, likes, and comments and comments for that particular video. You’ll also be able to see information about audience retention. This is the number of people who watched your video from beginning to end. You can see the number of viewers who made it all the way through your video, and you’ll also be able to see where people dropped off as well. For example, you’ll be able to see if everyone stops watching your video for around 5 minutes, and you can analyse your content and try to understand why that might be, which is cool.

Some Quick Facts about IGTV

  • Videos can be 10 minutes long, and up to an hour for larger accounts
  • You can only have one IGTV channel per Instagram account
  • Vertical videos similar to Instagram Stories are supported
  • horizontal video is supported but will be altered and is not recommended
  • You can watch IGTV by downloading the standalone app or clicking on the IGTV button in your Instagram app
  • A view on IGTV occurs after a user has viewed a video for up to 3 seconds


Instagram TV offers brands an opportunity to leverage the power of video on Instagram in a way that they have not been able to before. Instagram is now a global community of over one billion users. Since launching in 2010, we’ve seen constant growth on the platform, and as new features have been added, we’ve seen Instagram change and evolve. IGTV is one of the more prominent new features to come to Instagram, and it could be as revolutionary for the platform as stories were. It is also in direct competition with Youtube which could be dominant for attracting more creators to the platform. If Instagram is as successful at competing with Youtube for video as they were competing with Snapchat for Stories, we could see a dynamic power shift with regards to were creators post blog content.

IGTV is built and designed to accommodate video based on how you use your phone, so videos are full screen and vertical. Also, unlike on traditional Instagram, videos are not limited to just one minute. On IGTV, videos can be up to an hour long based on the size of your account.

If you are a favourite page or brand already using Instagram, or if you are an influencer with a loyal following, you might want to think about leveraging the power of IGTV to harness the power of video for your existing Instagram audience. Because we are still only getting acquainted with the new service, there is still a lot of room for new creators to emerge, so now is the time to adopt the platform and test out the future of video on Instagram with IGTV.

About the author

Karen is a senior technical writer and copywriter here at GrowFollowing. Her area of expertize are social media apps and new media.