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How to Create Videos for IGTV - Man holds smartphone with Instagram app
by James Nugent February 10, 2021

How to Create Videos for IGTV

These days, every industry relies pretty heavily on content creation, and moving forward, IGTV looks set to play a more significant part in content distribution. Whatever you do, make, or sell, producing sharable content for social media can be your biggest source of exposure. Since it launched, Instagram has been one of the most popular social platforms and one of the most innovative. Despite Instagram having over one billion users, many creators and businesses still aren’t taking full advantage of IGTV, but they soon will be. The way people use Instagram is changing, and if you don’t keep up, you’ll be left behind. So, we are here to tell you everything you need to know about how to create videos for IGTV.

Before we dive into how to make amazing IGTV videos, let’s go over a few basics.

What is IGTV?

How to Create IGTV Videos - An image of an instagram user holding a phone

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

IGTV is a way to share long-form videos.

Anyone can upload to IGTV, but it’s primarily aimed at businesses, brands, and influencers.

While sharing videos on Instagram is nothing new, IGTV adds more structure and direction than previous methods.

Posting a video on your regular feed limits you to just 60 seconds.

Instagram Stories gives you up to 15 seconds, and Instagram Live allows up to 60 minute live streams.

IGTV lets users create a channel where they can share videos up to 60 minutes long.

Your channel can match the content on your regular feed, or you could use it to post a different kind of content.

You can think of IGTV as Instagram’s answer to YouTube, but it’s tailor-made for today’s mobile device audience.

Creating an IGTV Channel

Creating a channel via the IGTV app or your regular Instagram account is roughly the same.

On the IGTV app, sign in using your normal Instagram details, click the settings icon at the top right of your screen and select create channel.

If you are sticking with regular Instagram, click the IGTV icon at the top of your screen, then the settings icon, and create channel.

The IGTV app gives you access to an extended feature set, but there are no major limitations to doing it either way.

Whichever you use, you can upload up to 15 minutes from a mobile device, and anything over that has to be done by a computer.

Why use IGTV?

How to Create IGTV Videos - An image of an old TV set

Photo by Victória Kubiaki on Unsplash

As we said, IGTV is a different way to share video content, so the main reason to use it is to create a channel with themed content or even a continuous video series.

Beyond the basics of using IGTV rather than Instagram’s other video sharing methods, you need to think about why video content is Important at all.

YouTube has well and truly cemented itself as one of the most used platforms on the internet.

In fact, with over 2 billion users, the only platform that sees more active monthly users than YouTube is Facebook.

Those statistics show us that the trend of moving away from traditional TV towards mobile video content isn’t slowing down.

IGTV has some way to go before it catches up with YouTube, but Instagram’s mobile-first approach should see the platform grow rapidly.

According to the Cisco Annual Internet Report (2018 – 2023), mobile video content will account for a massive 78% of all mobile data traffic.

One of the things that Instagram is focusing on to make sure they take a large cut of that predicted market share is a straightforward user experience.

Whether using your regular Instagram account or the standalone IGTV app, uploading, editing, and sharing videos is simple.

More importantly, the way users find videos that they are interested in is also easier than ever, thanks to the updated Explore page.

You need to go where your audience goes, and that’s why you need to think about IGTV.

What is the IGTV Explore page?

How to Create IGTV Videos - An image of Instagram Explore

Instagram’s Explore page is a selection of content curated for each individual user.

The content is a mix of users and channels that you already follow and suggestions based on your interests and likes.

So, in theory, each user has a tailor-made feed of content that saves them searching by themselves.

In 2019, Instagram completely overhauled the Explore page and made it even easier to connect users with suitable content.

One of the most effective changes is also the simplest; Instagram added dedicated tabs for IGTV, shopping, and various interests.

When you click the IGTV tab, you are met with a selection of currently live broadcasts and suitable videos.

The name IGTV doesn’t just refer to the fact we are talking about video content; it’s the ability to surf channels like you would with regular television.

How to Create IGTV Videos - An image of someone watching TV

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

In the past, when Netflix wasn’t a thing, and we didn’t all have 250 TV channels, we would pick up the remote and surf aimlessly till we saw something that stood out.

It’s very relevant to mention that, despite new technology, the starting point remains the same; we know what we like but don’t know exactly what we want to see.

These days, we have Netflix (and other platforms), and most times, we don’t search for a specific show/movie; we browse previews like channels till we find something.

YouTube is similar; we’ve all been bored and browsed random suggestions, but Instagram makes it more convenient for mobile devices.

Much of that is because IGTV is primarily intended for vertical videos, which means you can pop in and out of videos quickly and get a full-screen view without continually rotating your phone.

Instagram is continually improving its algorithm to make sure the right content reaches the right users.

With that in mind, along with the speed and ease of use, many users rely exclusively on their Explore page for IGTV content.

Instagram’s Explore page is visited by 200 million accounts daily.

As a business or content creator, you can start to see how important it is to get on those Explore pages.

How to get on the Instagram Explore pages

The upside of your content making it to the Explore page of more users is obvious; more views, more likes, more engagement.

Here are a few short tips to keep in mind when sharing your videos.

1. Post at the right time

Like your timeline on Facebook, Instagram’s Explore page favors the most recent content.

Meaning your audience might miss your video because it’s been replaced by a more recent video that fits their interests.

Posting at the wrong time is like taking the number one daytime TV show and moving it to the 3 am slot.

Analytics are available for almost every interaction anyone might have with social media.

Find out the best time to reach your target audience and stick to it.

If the best time to post your video isn’t ideal for you, try scheduling your posts.

2. Read the room

Read the room and know your audience.

As you try different ideas and formats, pay attention to what works and what doesn’t.

3. Learn from the best

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on successful channels that are doing what you want to do or similar.

It’s not a good idea to straight-up copy them, but use them to find out more about what works and what doesn’t.

Check out some of the most popular IGTV channels in 2021.

4. Be visually captivating

As obvious as this tip might sound, but on IGTV, it’s more important than usual.

On the Explore page you have a few seconds at most to convince users to choose you over the rest.

5. Buy an ad on Explore

In some ways, an easier option is to buy an ad on Explore.

Think of it as a last resort until you are an IGTV wizard.

Otherwise, you’ll reach the Explore page, but there’s no assurance that your video will perform well enough to provide a worthwhile return on investment.

How to Create Amazing IGTV Videos

As we alluded to in the tips above, reaching people means nothing if you don’t create videos that they want to watch.

The purpose of reaching people is to keep your existing followers coming back from more, attract new followers, and get all of them sharing your content.

Your goal has to be about long-term engagement; that’s how you build a brand.

We will cover a few technical tips and a few creative tips to help you create the best videos.

Let’s start with some technical advice.

Uploading a Video to IGTV

Check out Instagram’s guidelines on uploading videos via the IGTV app, without the app, and from a smartphone or computer.

1. Use a Tripod

A simple but massively effective tip is to use a tripod.

That doesn’t mean that you need to be working with a high-end camera.

You can pick up a tripod for your smartphone for next to nothing.

It makes sure you’ve got a stable image throughout, and it’s one less potential complaint from viewers.

FYI – If you think it’s just the same to balance your phone against a random object on your desk, it’s not.

You might get away with it one or two times, but eventually, it will slide and fall, ruining your shot; get a cheap tripod.

2. Think about the Format

IGTV supports both vertical and horizontal video, but it favors the more mobile-friendly vertical format.

Don’t forget that it favors vertical video to allow users to browse/view quickly and smoothly without rotating their phones.

If users have to rotate each time they view your videos, they may not continue to view them for much longer.

The vertical aspect ratio for IGTV is 9:16, and 1080px by 1920px. If you do shoot horizontally, just reverse those numbers. But, ideally, you should shoot vertically or edit to suit.

You can edit using Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, and so on, but if you don’t have access to those, free web-based tools like Movavi do the trick.

3. Know when Enough is Enough

The fact that you can share videos that are an hour long on IGTV is awesome.

It opens up so many possibilities in terms of the type of content that you share.

However, don’t assume that it’s always a good idea to go long just because you can go long.

The length of your video should be appropriate for the content delivered.

If you are dealing with a complex and engaging topic, and it needs the full 60 minutes, by all means, use it.

Don’t have a 2 minute video titled something like the most in-depth guide to quantum mechanics ever.

On the other hand, don’t take 60 minutes to explain the difference between lace-up shoes and velcro.

You’d start to sound like one of those get rich quick gurus who are eternally on the verge of giving you the most incredible information (that never comes).

You get the idea, use the time because you need to, not because you can.

If only the makers of Bladerunner 2049 had been given this advice; apologies to any Bladerunner 2049 fans!

4. Subtitles

IGTV gives you the option to include closed-caption subtitles, and it’s often a good idea.

Verizon Media’s study shows that in 2019, 69% of US consumers watched mobile videos with the sound off.

That trend continues in 2021 for various reasons.

It could be not wanting to cause a scene in public without headphones or sneaking in a podcast when they should be working.

Either way, the option of being able to watch your video in silence will widen your target audience.

5. Custom Cover Images

The cover image is the first thing that people will see.

If that doesn’t make them want to hover towards your video, then you’ve already lost.

Canva is a free online tool that lets you create stunning cover images for multiple platforms.

Now, let’s look at some content ideas that work well for long-form IGTV videos.

6. Tutorials

We talked about the popularity of YouTube, and without a doubt, tutorials account for some of the most-watched videos.

There’s no reason it would be any different for IGTV; people love to learn new things.

Whatever industry you are in, there’s always something to teach and people willing to learn.

Music lessons, language lessons, make-up or DIY tutorials, and everyday life hacks are just a few common tutorial subjects.

It doesn’t even have to revolve around creative industries; it could be making science fun, how to run a small business, or just about anything else.

Tutorials are a fantastic way to get long-term followers; if people like the way you teach, they will stick with you.

Make sure you sound confident but relaxed and friendly.

It shouldn’t be overly serious; people need to trust that you know what you are talking about, but still have fun!

The best way to do that might be to bullet-point your tutorial rather than fully script it; that way, your delivery sounds more natural.

7. Interview/Q&A Session

This type of content can take a few different forms, depending on your theme.

The one thing you need for a good interview is someone that people are interested in hearing; that’s it.

Let’s imagine you have a channel that talks about all things bass guitar, from lessons to gigs and gear.

Unless you have a serious following, it’s unlikely you’ll get Flea from the RHCP (although it’s worth a try), but you don’t have to.

You could interview working bassists, church bassists, touring musicians, studio musicians and discuss everything from technique and gear to working in the industry.

We are trying to say that a great interview doesn’t need a superstar; it just needs a connection to the viewer, which’s never too far from reach.

Q&A sessions are something that works really well in a live stream.

But, they also work very well as a promotional tool for a scheduled interview.

Using your Instagram account and any other social platforms, you can share your interview details in advance, asking people to submit questions.

It’s a great way to generate interest before posting, and anyone who submits a question is definitely going to tune in.

It also makes your job a little easier because the viewers have written the questions for you.

8. Behind the scenes

Shooting behind the scenes is definitely another idea that works in any industry.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a musician recording a music video, a manufacturer sharing your process, or a vlogger just showing your off-camera life; people always want to look behind the curtains.

The reason people are so drawn to behind the scenes content is that it isn’t staged; at least it shouldn’t be.

It lets your followers and potential followers see the person or people behind the channel/brand.

With a platform like Instagram, a content creator’s biggest challenge is the sheer volume of competition.

Even awesome content can get lost in a sea of average content if people don’t quickly relate to it.

There’s no better way to relate to your viewers than a behind the scenes video.

9. Documentary/Short film

When you can upload 60 minute videos, we can’t leave out documentaries and short films.

Any aspiring filmmaker will tell you that one of the biggest challenges in filmmaking is getting people to watch it.

You can be the next Scorsese, but if no one tunes in, no one will know.

IGTV is an ideal platform to premiere a new project to a potentially wide audience.

Using IGTV in this way removes the stress and cost of trying to find a physical venue/theatre.

It’s also a better option than YouTube for filmmakers who don’t already have a substantial following.

People are spoiled for choice when it comes to content, so if you were using Instagram to build interest in the premiere, then saying go elsewhere (YouTube) to watch it, it’s a harder sell.

If you promote your film in the right way and at the right times, you can make sure that potential fans get enough reminders to keep them hooked before the event.

And, if it’s right there on IGTV, you’ve made it easier for them.

With a small or non-existent following, you can start by posting details and short previews of the project without a specific launch date.

Give people just enough to know that it interests them, tell them it’s coming soon, and keep it simple.

Once you start to see enough momentum, you can put a date on it and start raising the excitement amongst followers.

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t drag it on too long; people lose interest easier than they gain it.

10. User/Customer Generated Content

UGC is something that has become a big part of any kind of marketing now.

We talked about the impact of behind the scenes videos and how they help viewers relate to you.

When it comes to users/customers trusting a brand, nothing does that faster than hearing from happy existing customers.

It’s something you can do by reaching out to people and asking them to send you a simple selfie-video saying why they like what you do, how they use your service/product, and how it helps them.

Never ever try to script people! That’s the quickest way to ruin your reputation.

Don’t try to stage the videos either; let people be themselves, in their own surroundings.

Hopefully, once you get submissions, you can edit them into a compelling advertisement for your business/brand.

Many brands use this kind of marketing with amazing results.

Creating an IGTV Series

Everything that we have discussed already is aimed at gaining long-term followers.

As we said, Instagram is doing everything it can to make the IGTV experience as easy as surfing TV channels.

With that in mind, what’s the main reason anyone turns on a particular channel at a specific time?

It’s to watch a new episode of a show that they already enjoy.

So, why not use IGTV to create an episodic series that viewers will come back to every week?

It’s one of the most effective ways to distribute video content, and we have a few steps to help you get it right.

1. Concept

As with any project, the first thing to do is to come up with a suitable concept.

It’s especially important when you are planning a series.

Getting it wrong with a one-off video isn’t good, but it’s not a disaster; continuing a series with a concept that isn’t working is a serious waste of time and effort.

There are too many potential themes and topics to be specific, but whatever you do, it has to be something with longevity.

Don’t come up with a concept that barely provides enough material for a few episodes.

It has to be a topic that will hold the viewer’s interest and can develop over time.

Whether it’s drama, comedy, or anything else, any fictional series should be easy to develop as the story and characters grow.

But, it doesn’t have to be that kind of series; it could just as easily be an ongoing tutorial series.

Let’s say you have a channel that teaches people about music production; you could create a series called Home Studio Recording 101.

It could start with the basics, covering how to set up your audio interface, monitors, etc.

Going right through to advanced mixing/mastering techniques.

Whatever you choose, put the audience first; it has to be what they want if you expect them to come back.

2. Script/Storyboard

How you script or storyboard your series will depend on the type of series that you are making.

If it’s something with a story, characters, and various actors, you’d want to script it entirely, even if you allow some improv during filming.

With so many moving parts, making small changes to a set plan is easier than trying to bring order to chaos without a script.

We’d often suggest that you use bullet-points with different kinds of content like tutorials or extended vlogs/interviews rather than scripting every word.

Although, being part of a series changes that somewhat.

Even with things like tutorials, you should script to a greater extent than usual to make sure that you avoid repeating content over multiple episodes.

You might think it would be enough to write down each episode’s topic, but that doesn’t account for any crossover of information.

For example, a music production series talking plugins could be discussing the same software in both the production and mixing stages.

It might just be that you are using the same software/plugins in different ways.

So, even if you don’t script word for word, you should make more detailed notes, so you don’t get too much crossover of information.

Basically, you don’t want people watching it thinking, why are they telling me this again?

3. Shoot your Series

Again, this step will vary depending on the scale of your project, who’s involved, and your budget.

The important thing to remember is to stay true to your content.

If you have a larger budget and you can afford high-end equipment, go for it.

You can check out our guide to the best budget cameras for filmmaking.

What we mean by staying true to your content is not to spend silly amounts of money on high-end equipment if you don’t need to.

IGTV is built to favor mobile devices, and that also means that filming content on your iPhone or smartphone is absolutely fine.

In many cases, filming content for IGTV on a phone might seem more authentic.

So, assuming most don’t have a considerable budget or need high-end equipment, here are a few items that can get you started.

iPhone – If you don’t have an iPhone, plenty of other smartphones deliver excellent quality video.

Lighting – If you’re new to making videos, you might assume lighting is expensive, but Amazon has the lot for any budget.

Teleprompter – Before we go any further, we all remember Ron Burgundy falling foul of the dangers a teleprompter presents.

But, we trust that you will be a little sharper than he was!

Check out the best teleprompter apps available (free and paid).

4. Add a Custom Cover Image and Create a Series

Once you’ve finished shooting and editing your video, upload it as you would do with any IGTV video.

This time, after you select your cover image, you want to choose the Add to Series option.

If it’s the first episode, you’ll have to add a series title and description.

After that, just add each new episode, and you’re good to go.

5. Be Consistent

Whether you have 500 followers or 50,000 followers, they expect the same level of experience with each episode.

The content can change, but the production and delivery standards can’t.

It’s basic things, make sure the cover images are always high-quality, make sure the sound quality is consistent, etc.

Talking about consistency, it’s the perfect time to remind you that we have the most amazing royalty-free music for your IGTV series.

Don’t forget to use our video preview tool to try before you buy!


We all know that Instagram is a social media juggernaut.

So, the fact that they are giving IGTV such a big push should be enough to make any content creator take it seriously.

The statistics show that people are moving more towards mobile video content every single day.

It would be crazy not to take advantage of IGTV, especially right now, while it hasn’t reached its full potential.

Get your brand out there now!

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