On Wednesday, at a flashy event in San Francisco, Instagram made an announcement that could change the platform in fundamental ways. The channel said that they will now enable users to upload videos up to one hour in length, a huge change from the current 1-minute limit. These longer-form videos will be showcased in IGTV, which can be reached from a button on the home screen, as well as a standalone app.

This is a fairly big change for Instagram: until now it has been largely known as a channel that promotes short-form content. Just a couple of years ago it took aim at Snapchat’s userbase by introducing Stories, a feature that’s designed with short, snappy content in mind. This update means that Instagram is now aiming at a completely different competitor.

YouTube is in Instagram’s sights

IGTV has been designed specifically to compete with YouTube. Even though eventually everyone will be able to become a creator on IGTV, Instagram hopes that their userbase, which skews towards the 18-24 demographic, will now start watching the longer-form videos they usually watch on YouTube, on IGTV. For that, Instagram will need influencers who have found success on YouTube to come over and post their content on IGTV. Why would they do that? Well, they’re already on there really.

Here come the influencers

Influencers could be the key reason why IGTV has been announced and not FBTV. Initially, Facebook was maybe seen as more likely to make a move like this, after all longer-form videos have been around on Facebook for a while. But Facebook doesn’t have the same connection and resonance with influencers that Instagram does. Instagram is the channel of the influencer, it’s where most influencers will build their most engaged audience and will usually be the channel they update most often. Even big YouTubers who have made their name on that channel will update their Instagram wall and stories constantly and push a different type of content to an audience that probably watches them on YouTube too. With the announcement of IGTV, Zoella’s or Casper Lee’s audience will be able to watch all their content in one place.

Coming soon: commercials

Although they weren’t part of the announcement, commercials or longer-form ads will be on their way to IGTV in the not-too-distant future. Content creators will flock to the channel, especially while there aren’t commercials on the platform, and that will entice advertisers looking to get their products in front of relevant audiences.

Instagram hits one billion

Instagram made another pretty big announcement recently: they’ve reached 1 billion monthly users. While other social channels’ growth has stagnated recently, Instagram’s continues to rise. Adding IGTV to the platform could cause another surge in growth, and who would bet against it reaching 2 billion before too long.

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Rob Kearsey – Social Media Executive