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How to Create Your Own IGTV Series in 2021


By Benjamin Chacon

Published December 8, 2020

13 minute read

Ready to create your own IGTV series? Tons of brands are now creating long-form video content for IGTV to drive real business results. Here's how to do it:

Ready to create an IGTV series?

With creative titles, themes, and a subscribe button to get notified when new content rolls out, it’s easy to see why brands are jumping on board with the trend.

Plus, given that IGTV’s popularity is soaring, creating your very own video series could be an excellent way to reach new audiences, grow your engagement, and even capture leads!

Ready to get started?

Below, we look at how to launch an IGTV series in 4 easy steps. Plus, we’re covering all the tips and tricks we learned from launching our very own IGTV video series!

Why Create an IGTV Series in 2021

Like most new things, when IGTV first launched in 2018, people didn’t really know what to make of it. Was it for creators? Brands? Regular people? And what’s the deal with vertical video?

Basically, IGTV had an identity crisis.

But as Instagram continued to invest in IGTV, adding new tools and features, a pattern emerged.

Rather than producing one-off videos on a semi-regular basis, businesses and creators started creating TV-like “episodic” content centered around a specific theme or topic.

Take Lululemon’s Boob Truths. The series features weekly segments on a single topic (like how to find the perfect sports bra fit) and is cohesive in terms of set and format.

We even launched our very own IGTV mini-series called Screen Time with Later where we recapped the top trends, cultural moments, and social media news of the week!

So why are so many great brands jumping on the IGTV series bandwagon?

Well, according to Mel Brittner, Later’s social media strategist, one of the biggest benefits for brands is that it gets your audience in the habit of coming back to your profile.

“When it comes to episodic content on IGTV, if you can get people in a habit of coming back to your profile, eventually, you’ll be a part of their weekly routine — the same way people tune-in to television shows,” Mel says.

“Basically, it puts you in the driver’s seat. When people are purposely coming to your profile to watch your latest episode, you’re no longer just at the mercy of the algorithm.”

Thinking about starting your own IGTV series? Here’s how to do it in 4 steps:

Step #1: Make a Plan

One of the first steps in developing an IGTV series is deciding what your series concept should be and how to carry it out.

Since you’ll be sharing multiple videos, you need to come up with a “repeatable” theme and style — something your audience won’t get bored of.

So spend some time thinking about what your audience wants to see, and how you can break it down into episodes.

If you’re having trouble nailing down a concept, Jon Youshaei, IGTV’s Product Marketing Manager suggests using Instagram Stories to workshop material.

Since Instagram Stories disappear in a day, you can test different ideas, formats, and sketches before dedicating the time to turn them into an IGTV series.

“This is a lot more powerful than simply guessing what your audience would like to see, spending a bunch of time producing videos, and then having it fall flat because your audience wasn’t feeling it,” Jon says.

Once you have your concept figured out, the next step is to build-out a brief.

Your goal here should be to nail down the nitty-gritty details, like budget, resources, creative direction, and schedule — try to be as detailed as possible!

This will give you a clearer idea of how much lead time you’re working with and the potential scope of the video series.

To help you kick off your IGTV channel, we sat down with Jon Youshaei, Product Marketing Manager of IGTV from Instagram HQ to get his best tips on how to create a successful IGTV strategy! Here’s what we learned:

Step #2: Storyboard + Script Your IGTV Series

So, you have a great idea for your IGTV series and you’re ready to start creating content. Great!

But before you start shooting your video, it’s a good idea to create a quick storyboard to map out the details and make sure everything flows together well.

By storyboarding before you start creating content, you can better plan out your camera angles, setting, props, actors, effects, length, and other important details.

Speaking of video length, try to be as concise as possible while still keeping things entertaining. While long-form video is meant to be, well, long, if all of your videos have a runtime of 30+ minutes, your viewer retention rate is probably going to suffer.

TIP: Try experimenting with different video lengths to find that sweet spot for engagement!

Step #3: Film Your Series

How you go about actually producing your IGTV series is going to depend pretty heavily on your budget and other factors.

If you’re a large, well-funded business with money to spare, you may want to invest in a videographer, professional equipment, and a shooting location.

But that definitely isn’t necessary!

According to Mel, even bootstrapped businesses can turnout *great* video content for IGTV — it just takes a little creativity.

“You don’t need a big budget to create an IGTV series — an iPhone and some kind of mic setup are really all you need,” Mel says.

“If you’re a little more relaxed about the visuals, you can also hack it using apps on your phone. You can add transitions using LumaFusion and create graphics using Over. For subtitles, I use an app called Kapwing.”

We reviewed 20 of our favorite mobile video editing apps in 2021! Check out the full list here!

Filming your IGTV series also doesn’t have to take weeks of work.

“In terms of process, we have a writers meeting on Monday where we come up with the concepts and lock those in,” Mel says. “Then we build out a script and decide what graphics and screencasts we need to make.”

From there, it’s just a matter of filming the episode.

And you really don’t need a ton of expensive equipment in order to film video content! Our phones are powerful machines these days, so all you need is some good natural light to get started.

Here is what we are used to film Screen Time:

  • Camera: iPhone 11 Pro

  • Lighting: natural lighting is great, but not everyone is blessed with that at home. A simple ring light is really all you need! But ring lights are pretty horrible if you wear glasses because of the reflection, so we are also using a fill light from Amazon. You can watch this video to learn how to light for glasses.

  • Sound: we have a professional mic and mixer, but honestly, it’s not that helpful if you don’t know what you’re doing (like us). You could try a USB mic like this, or a mic that just plugs into your iPhone too!

  • Teleprompter: a teleprompter is a game-changer for recording video content, but it’s also a big pain in the butt sometimes. We discovered this life-saving teleprompter app for recording selfie videos, so you can see yourself while you’re recording AND see the text at the same time! It’s free with a watermark, or about $25 to remove the watermark.

  • Tripod: if you’re using a ring light, it will likely come with a built-in spot for your phone, so you’re set! If not, you’ll want to get a tripod for your phone, but you don’t need anything fancy, they start at $10 on Amazon.

  • Editing: we are obsessed with the Inshot app (don’t tell our videographer). It does the job! We also create our graphics using templates our designer created for us in Canva, so we don’t need design resources for every screen-casting element.

Okay, now that you’ve got some tips on filming, there are certain building blocks that make for a great IGTV series.

Step #4: Create & Add a Custom Cover Images

You want every single video to start strong, both in the preview on Instagram and the video itself on IGTV. Ideally, within the first ten seconds, you want to explain what you’ll talk about and why it matters to your audience.

Check out how Later uses a similar style and format for all our title screens — each video has a custom title screen that reflects not only the topic of the video but also aligns with Later’s overall Instagram aesthetic:

It’s also a good idea to include a call-to-action (CTA) at the end where you ask your audience to like and share the video so they can help amplify your message!

This is also a great place to get feedback from your audience on what topics they want you to cover in future videos.

Step #5: Add to or Create a Series

Once your IGTV video is ready, you can use the new IGTV series feature to organize your content into a series-like collection.

This feature is designed to give creators a chance to produce ongoing, long-form video content on IGTV — separate from other videos on their channel.

To get started, add a video to your series by tapping “Add to Series.”

If it’s your first video in the series, you’ll need to set up a series name and description.

The new tools also make it easy to add existing IGTV content to a series! Just select the IGTV tab from your profile, tap on the video you’d like to add, and click “Edit.”

You’ll see a new option labeled “Add to Series.” From here, you can create a new series or select an existing one. To finish, just tap “Post” in the top right corner.

You’ll also want to make sure to encourage your fans to turn on notifications for your IGTV series so they never miss out on new content!

To set up notifications, just click on the series title (or badge) and hit “Turn on IGTV Notifications” in the bottom right corner.

And that’s it! Just re-follow these steps as you add more videos to your IGTV series!

Step #6: Promote Your Series

When it comes to promoting your IGTV videos, it’s also important to think of Instagram as one giant ecosystem with different “surfaces” that you can use to build a bigger and tighter-knit community — this includes Instagram Stories, feed posts, and more.

“In terms of promotion, I always use the Countdown Sticker to tease a new episode beforehand,” Mel says. “I find that it works best if you share a countdown 2-3 days before a video goes live — people are more likely to subscribe to be notified.”

You can also create a hashtag for your IGTV series (like #laterscreentime) so people have another place to find all of your great episodes.

And don’t forget to post an IGTV preview to your Instagram feed on the day of your video debut so your audience doesn’t miss out on your content!

If you want to get even more traction, you should also consider repurposing your IGTV content for other channels, like YouTube.

According to Mel, a great hack for this is to shoot your IGTV series in 9×16 (portrait mode) and then add a stationary image to each side of the video to make it 16×9.

“That’s what we post to YouTube to repurpose the content,” Mel says. It’s a great hack because if you’re watching YouTube on desktop, you’ll see the frame, but if you’re watching on mobile and your phone is vertical, then you’ll see it like you would in IGTV.”

On top of the strategies we listed above, you should also spend some time optimizing your video thumbnails, title, and description.

For example, capturing a person’s emotional reaction in your thumbnail is a great way to drive more attention.

As for your title, because IGTV is on mobile, most of your titles will get truncated or squeezed down. So it’s important to think really hard about the first three words of your headline since that’s often what most people will see.

And just like on YouTube, you’ll want to add in any relevant keywords to your description to make it easier for people to find your videos on IGTV. This also includes hashtags and tagging other Instagram accounts (thanks to a recent update, IGTV now offers autofill suggestions for both).

IGTV Series Step #4: Track Your Success

Once you upload a video to IGTV, you can see insights such as likes, comments, view count, the average percent of video watched, and audience retention.

Metrics like these are invaluable when deciding what changes (if any) to make to your IGTV strategy. For example, if viewers are dropping off at the 5-minute mark, you can take that as a sign that creating videos that are longer than 5 minutes might not be the best strategy.

Here’s how to do it:

From your Instagram profile, tap on the IGTV icon. This will bring you to your IGTV channel.

Tap on the video you would like to see your analytics for and when the video starts playing, just tap on the ellipsis icon on the bottom left-hand side of the screen.

From here, tap the “View Insights” button to bring up all the analytics related to your video.

Just like your Instagram Stories and posts, you can see how many times your video has been viewed, liked, and commented on.

Your Audience Retention stats is where you should focus your attention. A “view” on IGTV is counted for every time a person watched at least three seconds of your video. So while your views may be high, that doesn’t necessarily mean your viewers watched the whole video.

But the Audience Retention stats are unique to IGTV and they let you see how long you’ve kept your audience’s attention. It’s a great tool for pinpointing the perfect video length for your audience.

Pay special attention to your Average Percentage Viewed rate. It’s calculated as the percentage of your video watched as an average of all plays. So it shows you a clearer picture of how much of your video was watched by all viewers, even if they skipped forward and only watched certain parts.

Creating an IGTV series is an incredible way to break free from the Instagram algorithm and drive more visitors (including repeat visitors!) to your profile.

But at the end of the day, in order to create an amazing IGTV strategy, you need to know your audience inside-and-out and create content that really resonates with them.

Ready to jump-start your social media strategy? Start planning and scheduling your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts with Later for free today!

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