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IGTV: The Ultimate Guide to Instagram’s New Video Platform

Drumroll, please….IGTV, Instagram’s brand new video platform, is here!

IGTV is a place for long form videos on Instagram, and it’s available in both the native Instagram app and the new standalone IGTV app.

Here are 3 things you need to know about IGTV, plus we answer a ton of questions about how IGTV works, how to upload videos to IGTV, and what this brand new platform means for you:

igtv instagram video

What is IGTV?

IGTV is Instagram’s way of disrupting the traditional TV experience and updating it for a modern, mobile experience.

Youtube has exploded in popularity in recent years, and because of mobile video, the amount of time teens spend watching TV has decreased 40%!

By 2021, mobile video will account for 78% of total mobile data traffic, and Instagram is betting big on mobile video with the launch of IGTV.

Anyone on Instagram can create their own IGTV channel, where they can share long-form videos with their followers.

For now, videos can be 10 minutes for most accounts, and up to one hour for larger accounts, but Instagram has said that eventually there will be no time limit.

A post shared by Instagram (@instagram) on

IGTV is also no longer only for vertical video! According to a recent press release, Instagram now supports both vertical and horizontal videos on IGTV! 

This is big news for creators and social media managers alike. Up until now, IGTV only supported vertical video, which was a big part of its launch in June 2018. 

You can watch IGTV videos in the Instagram app, in the standalone IGTV app, or by clicking the IGTV button on someone’s Instagram profile. When someone you follow posts a new video to IGTV, you’ll get a notification in the native Instagram app.

igtv channel instagram app

Instagram curates videos for you based on your interests and who you follow, and you can also watch trending videos on the “popular” channel! And just like you can with Instagram Stories, you can also share IGTV videos to your friends through Instagram Direct.

igtv instagram video app

There are also no ads — yet. “Right now we’re focused on building engagement,” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said in a press conference after the launch.  “But that’s obviously a very reasonable place to end up. There will be a way for creators to make a living.”

Now that we’ve looked at what IGTV is, let’s look at a few key things to know about the platform (and don’t forget to check out our LaterCon replay of Jon Youshaei’s top tips on how to create a successful IGTV strategy!):

3 Things to Know about IGTV, Instagram’s New Video Platform + App

#1 IGTV is Both Vertical & Horizontal

Like we’ve said, IGTV used to be all about vertical video. But according to a recent press release, they’ve decided to switch focus to both vertical and horizontal videos.

Instagram says the change comes because of creator feedback. “We realize this is an evolution from where IGTV started — we believe it’s the right change for viewers and creators.”

“Vertical videos work great for creators who want to be up-close and personal with their audience; but landscape also has its strengths, especially when it comes to formats like dance and sports which are high motion and often feature a handful of people in frame.”

There’s also the fact that many creators were already sharing landscape videos on IGTV — but viewers couldn’t flip their phones to watch them in full screen, so it made for a less than ideal viewing experience.

Here are two examples of what horizontal videos used to look like on IGTV: @beamiller‘s is quickly edited to include a blurred background, and @jeffmindell‘s is the full horizontal video that you would rotate your phone to watch.

This decision to open IGTV up to landscape video doesn’t really come as a surprise.

While creating a vertical video-only platform was an innovative move from Instagram, it was also a new format that many people weren’t used to creating. Basically, vertical video takes more time to create and edit, and it’s difficult to repurpose to other social platforms.

That’s not to say that vertical video is a bad thing! The format makes it easy for anyone to feel like they can start creating, and instead of the pressure to create professional videos on a camera, vertical video naturally encourages you to record on your phone instead.

Vertical video also makes for a better mobile experience, because you don’t have to rotate your phone or just watch a smaller version. I don’t know about you, but I keep my phone locked to “portrait” mode, so every time I want to watch a YouTube video it’s seriously annoying!

Video has become an increasingly important skill in social media marketing, and now with the launch of IGTV, if you don’t know how to make or edit videos, you really need to learn…now!

Learn how to grow your business with video in our free Instagram Stories for Business course:


#2 IGTV is like Youtube, Not Netflix

Even though you can upload videos up to 1 hour long on IGTV, don’t expect to be watching your favorite TV shows on it anytime soon.

The goal of IGTV is to be more like YouTube, and less like Netflix (after all, that’s what Facebook Watch is for). IGTV is meant more for following your favorite influencers or vloggers, instead of the Hollywood elite.

Instagram is trying to take a piece of YouTube and Snapchat’s pie by luring teen influencers like Bryce Xavier and Lele Pons over to IGTV, and many prominent social media + Youtube influencers were part of the IGTV launch.

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“Instagram is focusing its efforts around web celebrities that made their name on mobile rather than more traditional, old-school publishers and TV studios that might come off too polished and processed,” notes TechCrunch.

“The idea is to let these creators, who have a knack for this style of content and who already have sizeable Instagram audiences, set the norms for what IGTV is about.”

This is good news for your business, because you don’t have to create a super polished video in order to upload it to IGTV! As far as production quality goes, think of it like a step up from your Instagram Stories, but it doesn’t have to be as perfect or curated like an Instagram post or video would be.

In fact, I wrote, shot, and edited Later’s first IGTV show in less than 5 hours, and I don’t really have any idea what I’m doing. You can just film on your phone, edit it in iMovie, and then upload it to your channel! And while we will definitely be creating some high quality IGTV videos, it really doesn’t have to be anything fancy if you don’t have the time.

#3 IGTV is an Addicting Mobile Experience

Even though you won’t be seeing your favorite TV shows on IGTV, Instagram is trying to make the overall experience a lot like traditional TV.

Everyone who has an Instagram account can create their own IGTV “channel,” which is where all your IGTV videos will live (separate from your regular Instagram bio + Instagram Stories Highlights).

Just like when you turn the TV on and a show starts playing right away, when you open the IGTV app, a video will automatically start playing.

Viewers can like or comment on IGTV videos while they’re watching them, similar to how you can interact with Facebook videos.

igtv comments

Bored of watching the video? Just swipe to the side to move on to the next video.

Want more? Swipe up to search videos and view them by category, and it’s super easy to just scroll through videos from influencers and friends on Instagram.

Right now, there’s 3 IGTV categories: For You, Following, and Popular.

  • “For You” is a collection of videos that Instagram thinks you will like, made up from people you follow and Instagram’s own machine learning.
  • “Following” is a collection of videos from all the people on Instagram that you’re already following. Which is a good time to mention that if someone follows you on IGTV, they’ll be following your regular Instagram account too!
  • “Popular” features all of the trending videos on IGTV, most likely ranked by popularity

There’s also a small hidden search bar that lets you search for videos, but Instagram is trying to curate the best videos for you within your social network and without you having to constantly search for the next video to watch.

Now that you understand more about how IGTV works, you’re ready to make your own channel and upload your first IGTV video! Here’s how to do it, or you can skip to the IGTV Frequently Asked Questions below.

How to Create an IGTV Channel:

Before you can upload a video to IGTV, you need to create your channel! The good news is that Instagram has made IGTV super simple and easy to use.

Step 1: Sign in to the IGTV App

Step 2: Click on the settings gear icon in the right hand corner, and then click “create channel”

That’s it! Now you’re ready to upload your videos.

How to Create Videos for IGTV:

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of actually shooting and sharing vertical video for IGTV, let’s take a quick look at the technical specs:

  • Video format: MP4
  • Length: Videos must be at least one minute long. The maximum length your video can be is 15 minutes when uploading from a mobile device and 60 minutes when uploading from the web
  • Size: 650MB for videos less than 10 minutes; 3.6GB for videos up to 60 minutes
  • Orientation: vertical (portrait) or horizontal (landscape)
  • Aspect ratio: Instagram recommends that vertical IGTV videos should have an aspect ratio of 9:16, while horizontal videos should be 16:9

Like Instagram Stories, there’s really no limit to what you can post on IGTV.

So far we’ve seen businesses use it to share how-to’s and tutorials, to promote their products, to share company news and so much more.

The goal of IGTV is to be more like YouTube than Netflix. And that’s why so many influencers and vloggers have already taken to the channel. 

As a business, it’s important to think about it from the perspective of what value your videos can provide. As in, how can you create value for your audience and how are you create value for your brand?

If you’re already a pro with Instagram Stories, the transition to IGTV shouldn’t be too difficult. You can even think of IGTV as an extension of your Instagram Stories. What voice, tone, and style of content do you share on your stories? Your IGTV video content should follow a similar arc.

Just remember: Since IGTV videos can be *very* long-form, it’s important to give yourself plenty of time to prepare, shoot, and edit your videos before jumping right in!

How to Upload Videos to IGTV:

Step 1: Go to your new channel by clicking on your avatar from the main page

Step 2: Click the + icon in the right hand corner to add a new video to IGTV

Step 3: Select a video from your camera roll

Step 4: Write your title and add a description. 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).


You can also add in links! That’s right, people will actually be able to click on links in your description and be taken outside of the Instagram or IGTV app.

Step 5: Share your IGTV video to your Instagram feed. Instagram recently introduced the option to share a 1-minute preview of your IGTV video to your Instagram feed. If you select to do this, your IGTV videos will live in the grid on your Instagram profile, with a little IGTV icon in the right-hand corner:

You don’t have to share IGTV videos to the Instagram feed, it’s totally optional. But it could help you get more views on your videos!

All you need to do is move the slider button to green to opt-in to IGTV Preview. Once you’ve selected that option, a preview of your IGTV video will appear in your follower’s feed, and the cover image will appear in your profile’s grid.


When you post a preview of your IGTV video, the title and description will copy over to the caption. Just keep in mind that any links you included in your description won’t be “clickable.”

If you’ve chosen to post a preview, you can tap Edit Profile Cover to adjust how your IGTV cover photo shows up on your profile grid.



 You can also tap Edit Preview to adjust how your IGTV video will be previewed in feed (you’ll only have this option if your video is 9:16. If 16:9, your video will show in full).

IGTV: Edit Preview

This new process for editing your IGTV preview also makes adding subtitles much easier now. Previously, you had to add them quite high up in order to include them in the preview.

Step 6: Add a cover photo! You can upload your own custom cover, or choose a thumbnail from your video. The cover photo is what will show up on your channel page and in the IGTV categories, so make it catchy!

how to upload igtv video

For your cover photo, Instagram recommends an aspect ratio of 1:1.55 (or 420px by 654px).

Step 7: Click the post button and celebrate! You’ve just uploaded your first video to your IGTV channel.

But you’re not done yet: you’ll also want to monitor and reply to the comments on your post and track your IGTV analytics.

Step 8: View Your IGTV Analytics

Click on the “…” button beside the like, comment, and share buttons on your IGTV video.

From here you can click “View Insights” or copy the link to your video (you can also delete your video here if you need to).

When you click on “View Insights” you’ll be able to see your views, likes, and comments.

how to view igtv analytics and insights

You can also see your audience retention rate, which is how many people watched your video all the way to the end, and you can even see a drop-off graph which shows you at what point people are swiping away from your video.

igtv video insights analytics

Frequently Asked Questions about IGTV, Instagram New Video App

Since IGTV is so new, you’re bound to have more questions! Here are some answers to the questions we could think of, but if you have more, just let us know in the comments!

instagram igtv video app

What Video Types are Supported on IGTV?

IGTV supports 4k vertical and landscape videos that are at least 15 seconds long, and can run up to 60 minutes. If you’re wondering what size IGTV videos are, they’re a 16:9 aspect ratio (the same as Instagram Stories).

What constitutes a “view” on IGTV?

According to Instagram, a “view” on IGTV is the number of times people watched at least 3 seconds of your video.

How long can IGTV videos be?

Right now, IGTV videos can be up to 10 minutes long, and larger accounts can upload videos up to 1 hour long. In the future, Instagram has said that eventually there will be no time limits.

How do I watch videos on IGTV?

You can watch IGTV videos by clicking on the IGTV icon at the top of your feed in the Instagram app, or you can download the standalone IGTV app for iOS or Android.

You will also be able to watch videos from the “IGTV” icon on Instagram profiles.

Note: Instagram is slowly rolling out the update, so if you don’t have IGTV in your native app yet, try searching for the standalone app instead.

Can you have more than one IGTV Channel?

No, you can only have one IGTV channel per Instagram account. This is because, according to Instagram, “the creators are the channels.” If you follow a creator on IGTV, you will also be following them on Instagram, and vice versa!

We’ll be updating this post with more info about IGTV as the platform evolves and people start using the app more! But in the meantime – what do YOU want to know? Let us know in the comments!

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Written By

Taylor Loren

Taylor Loren is the Head of Marketing at Later. She was named a LinkedIn Top Voice for social media marketing, and you can follow her on Instagram at @taylor.loren for more Instagram tips and a look inside life at Later.