Five years after Instagram introduced the ability to upload videos, and two years after it debuted its Snapchat-like Stories feature, the platform is banking on starting the next big thing in online video. IGTV was launched last June to take advantage of the increase in digital video views and the younger audiences’ familiarity with influencers. In this respect, it seems to be acting as Instagram’s answer to YouTube, which is well known as the biggest online video platform in the world, and the birthplace of the modern video content creator and influencer.


Unlike YouTube, though, IGTV has one major distinguishing feature: it only accepts vertical video. Those accustomed to browsing YouTube might cringe at the thought, but think of it as a logical progression from the shorter clips uploaded to Instagram Stories. Unlike Stories, however, which only gives you a handful of seconds per clip, each video on IGTV can be up to an hour long—even longer than videos uploaded onto the main Instagram feed. You can also access IGTV from a standalone app, although it’s still accessible within the main Instagram app. Videos start playing as soon as you select the option to view IGTV, you can like and comment, similar to other features in the app, and you can send IGTV videos to friends as well via direct message.


If used correctly, your startup or small business could really benefit from this new platform. Here are three ideas on how to get started and get audiences tuning in to your channel.


Get Up Close and Personal

Vertical video orientation may not look the best when it comes to viewing scenery, but you know what it does frame wonderfully? Faces. Use IGTV to host long-form vlogs in vertical format, enabling a more personal connection to your audience — as if you’re talking directly to them. Sounds just like Stories? Hold on a minute! There’s currently no camera option in IGTV where you can shoot and upload on the go, but consider this an opportunity. Since you need to upload videos from your phone gallery, you can decide what kinds of videos you put out—meaning if you want to increase your production values through post-processing and editing, by all means go ahead.


Stumped for vlog ideas? What you want is for your audience to get to know the people behind your business. The great thing about social media is that it enables two-way connections between users, so let your followers get to know your business better by learning about the people that make it work. Why not film an introductory video about your company, where you can introduce your business, your team, what each of you do, and what you believe in as a company? You can also document the day-to-day goings on of the business, and with some effort put into editing the clips, you can make a mini-feature about a day in startup life. There are many different possibilities, but you always want to inject a personal touch into what you present.


Complement (and Supplement) Your Instagram Stories

Worried about your Instagram account becoming cluttered with everything you’ve committed to upload onto it? Have your new IGTV content work with the rest of your content, not against them. Your goal should be to offer something unique in every component of your social media presence while rewarding followers that decide to check out all of them. Show hints and teasers of your IGTV content mixed in with regular Instagram posts to keep followers aware of updates to the channel without overwhelming your main feed. You can also take a few clips from those videos and upload them to Stories—letting them act as a sneak peek for a longer video hosted on IGTV to circumvent numerous 10-second videos to scroll through on Stories. The reverse going directly through Instagram, you can edit these clips together for a video on demand compilation of your favorite Stories. Perfect for keeping a log of your employees’ live-blogged event coverage!


In fact, you can integrate IGTV with your Stories even more. Stickers available on Instagram Stories lets viewers interact with you through emoji sliders, yes/no polls, and the latest Ask a Question feature. Give your viewers interesting prompts—whether they be soliciting any questions or opinions they might have about your small business's field of expertise, or have a more relaxed, ask-me-anything casual vibe. Use these questions and answers as inspiration for your next IGTV content! Once you have your responses, you can answer them in a separate video and inform your followers via Stories and photo uploads that you’ll be posting responses on IGTV.


Follow a Regular Schedule

Establish a regular schedule for video releases. While there’s a thrill in not knowing just when and where a person might post something new on their Instagram, people do like having a routine if they keep their own too. Block out a day and time you’re sure your team can commit to uploading a video regularly, and give it a theme and interesting title. This really puts the “TV” in IGTV, and is a tried-and-tested tactic that other online video content creators have successfully used to improve engagement. The big benefit here for your audience is that you won’t have to direct your followers’ attentions outside the main Instagram app, unlike with other long-form videos posted to separate platforms. Promoting your schedule then is as easy as creating the right visuals for it and asking them to tune in to your IGTV channel—no need for the ever-present “link in bio” or “copy and paste” phrases.


If you’re confident enough with this tactic, you can start plotting out your company's social media content calendar to include these videos, and add more than one “show” to your roster. For example, if you already have photo posts planned for Mondays and Wednesdays, why not post an Instagram Stories clip compilation to your IGTV on Friday to let users catch up with the goings-on at the workplace?


Just Start Rolling

Guiding users with your expertise via video while building an emotional connection with them is a great way to build your small business's audience. This can eventually turn them from viewers to customers—don’t discount the benefits of social media! You might even find like-minded individuals interested in joining your team once they see what you’re made of. While startups and small businesses may not have the largest budgets to allocate to marketing, videos on social media help you build a presence where it matters most.


These are just a few ways your business can begin making sense of Instagram’s latest venture. To go the extra mile when it comes to depicting your startup online, hone your mobile video editing skills and learn about all the options available to you. While your videos still need to be authentic and relatable, there’s no harm in polishing them for extra shine to provide to your viewers, especially when you need to keep their focus on your longer videos. Don’t be scared to find out what works and what doesn’t—you may end up making mistakes, but they’re opportunities to learn. Just get started and remember to enjoy the process!