IGTV Strategy 101 For Pet Businesses

Years ago, many marketers predicted that video would explode in popularity, not just for advertising but for social media marketing, too.

And they weren’t wrong.

By 2021 (a not-so-distant future), mobile video will account for over 70% of mobile video data traffic. Platforms like Instagram are betting big on video as the next great tool for growing brands, engaging audiences, and increasing brand awareness. And that’s where IGTV comes in.

It’s not just video that’s the core component of IGTV, however. With the opportunity to make it onto more users’ Explore page, and use IGTV as a way of building engagement with existing and future audiences filled with potential customers, many brands are hopping on the IGTV bandwagon.

In this article, we’re going to show you how you can get started creating an IGTV strategy for your pet business so you can boost your Instagram marketing efforts!

What is IGTV?

Think of IGTV as Instagram’s version of YouTube.

With IGTV, Instagram users can upload high-quality, vertical and horizontal long-form videos that can range from 10 minutes in length to 30 minutes or more. The idea behind IGTV is to allow brands and businesses more opportunity to create content that engages their audiences, beyond photos or Instagram Stories (which only last a few seconds!).

Everyone can use IGTV to create videos both long and short and, when posted, audiences can watch the videos directly in Instagram without having to leave the app. Users can also share IGTV videos with friends and followers through direct messages on Instagram, making the content extremely shareable.

What this means is that pet businesses can use IGTV to create a breadth of content that gets seen not just by their existing followers, but audiences of people who don’t yet know about their brand. And that discoverability becomes invaluable when you want to increase brand awareness!

What you should know about IGTV before getting started

#1: IGTV isn’t television or Netflix (it’s more like Quibi)

Unlike Netflix, which has full-length tv shows and longer episodes, IGTV is more like YouTube or Quibi, where brands create digestible pieces of content that engage audiences and provide insight into different topics, rather than require them to tune in for hours on end. It’s sort of like following brands or influencers you like to see what they’re up to or what’s happening behind the scenes. In many cases, brands also use IGTV to show their followers what happens in a typical workday at their company, or share insight into new product collections, services, etc.

And a lot of this content is made through Smartphones, without any special equipment, by brands both large and small. In fact, IGTV doesn’t require you to be a professional videographer just to upload content!

Because of this, small businesses don’t have to create cinematic masterpieces in order to find success with IGTV. Many creators and influencers use IGTV for a multitude of content, and much of this content is not highly-curated, movie-like videos. If you have a mobile phone and a creative idea for content, you can make IGTV videos.

#2: You don’t need to be a movie maker

One of the biggest misconceptions about IGTV is that it’s only built for, or effective when, quality content is posted. And this couldn’t be further from the truth.

For small businesses, IGTV should be used as a brand awareness tool, which means using IGTV as a feature of Instagram to engage with people. You don’t need professional video equipment to make great IGTV videos, but you can use simple video editing tools (like iMovie, for example) to cut together short videos.

The main thing to remember when using IGTV is that masterpieces aren’t necessary; many audiences (especially millennials) love authentic, human content, which means even posting a rough-cut video you made using your phone can really resonate with people!

#3: One-off IGTV videos won’t do the trick

If you’re thinking of using IGTV to post the occasional video, you definitely can, but brands see success with IGTV when they use the feature consistently.

That’s mainly due to the fact that the whole purpose behind using IGTV is to drive engagement and get more Instagram users to find and follow your brand. So it makes sense to use IGTV as a consistent tool through which you post and distribute content regularly. In the case of IGTV, it’s very much a matter of ‘go all in or don’t do it at all”.

#4: IGTV videos appear larger in Explore pages than photos!

When users visit their Explore page on Instagram, they see IGTV videos as larger thumbnails than photos, because Instagram is paying significant attention to IGTV as a feature tool of their platform.

This is good news for businesses that consistently create content for IGTV; it increases the likelihood of their content being seen on a user’s Explore page, and it gives prominence to their content!

Why you need an IGTV strategy as a pet business

Aside from the fact that IGTV can help build engagement, it’s also a long-form and immersive experience that businesses can provide their audiences.

This means that small businesses can use IGTV to connect with their audiences and create content that differentiates them from competing brands and businesses. But posting to IGTV without a strategy can result in stumbling blocks when it comes to the type of content you should create and whether you build engagement with the tool. Because IGTV can be tied directly back to your account, it’s a beneficial way to amalgamate your Instagram strategy with immersive, engaging content.

It’s not just engagement that matters; Instagram allows users like brands and businesses to feature their IGTV content not just on IGTV, but through IG Stories and posts to help promote that content.

And, because Instagram audiences can find brands through IG Stories without having to first follow those brands, there’s a huge opportunity to increase brand awareness! That becomes more significant when you consider that Instagram’s Explore page has a dedicated IGTV space.

Without a strategy, you can fall behind on consistent content creation and posting, which means audiences grow less likely to tune in or keep a look out for your content when you do post something to IGTV. So, having a well thought-out IGTV strategy can save you time when creating content and help ensure your IGTV efforts pay off.

Creating your IGTV Strategy

Step 1: Decide on a theme or themes

Before creating any content for your IGTV, you’ll first need to decide on a theme or themes that you’ll cover through your video content. As a pet business, you have a lot of themes to choose from, so you don’t need to stick with just one.

An easy way to organize the themes you may want to cover is by creating ‘buckets’ or lists of themes/topics you can cover, with sub-topics within those themes. Doing this will give you an idea as to what you’ll cover in each IGTV video you post, so that themes become series.

For example, if you run a pet food brand, you may want to cover the themes of food, treats, and supplements, then break down each of those three themes into lists of topics you can cover. The food theme, for instance, could cover topics like what pet owners should look for in kibble versus wet food, how to DIY your own raw food, and so one.

These become series of content that you can promote as mini-series so that audiences have incentive to follow your IGTV for new ‘episodes’ in each series!

And, if you’re unsure about what content will resonate most with your audiences, ask them! This is the perfect opportunity to use Instagram Stories with Poll, Question, or Quiz stickers to gather feedback, and you can test what type of content people would tune into your IGTV for.

Step 2: Define the purpose behind your series

Once you’ve established which themes you’ll cover (which become series in and of themselves), you’ll need to move onto defining what the purpose is behind each series. If you’re only going to do one series or theme, you’ll still need to know what its purpose is!

When we say ‘purpose’, we’re talking about the ultimate reason you want people to stop what they’re doing and watch your IGTV content. From a small business perspective, this should always be a CTA (call to action) that suggests a next course of action for viewers. Naturally, this next course of action would be Liking and Sharing the IGTV video.

Step 3: Come up with your posting frequency

A highly effective way of ensuring you distribute content consistently through IGTV is to decide on your posting frequency. And this is an important part of your IGTV strategy, because without a posting strategy, you’ll find it more difficult to get audiences to loyally tune into and follow your content regularly.

When creating your posting strategy, there are a few things you must consider:

  • How often will you realistically be able to create content? If it’s only 1-2 times per month, you may do a bi-weekly IGTV series where you only post new ‘episodes’ or content pieces twice per month
  • When will you post your content? You’ll want to figure out which days and times work best for you when it comes to actually adding your content to IGTV and posting it. You want to keep these consistent so that audiences know when to expect new content from you!
  • Who’s going to post for you? Is a member of your team going to handle your IGTV, or will it be you as the business owner?
  • Can you honestly stick to posting regularly? It’s good to test IGTV to see if it works for your business, but if you don’t have the capacity to create content or aren’t sure you’ll be able to continue creating content, you may want to reconsider whether IGTV is for you

Once you answer those four main questions, you’ll be able to map out a posting strategy that’s both realistic and consistent.

Let’s say, for example, that you run a pet business and have only one or two other team members. Because you may be limited in your capacity to create constant content, your strategy may look something like this:

Content Creation: 2x per month (make four videos)

Posting: 1x per week

Posting Day: Tuesdays

Posting Time: 10:00am EST

Poster: Jane Doe (Marketing intern)

This would mean that you dedicate two days per month where you create the content you’ll upload to IGTV, and make four videos (one per week) that you post on Tuesdays at 10am. The person who posts them and formats your videos for IGTV would be Jane.

Step 4: Use a cliffhanger for your 1-minute mark

Instagram users can preview IGTV videos before watching the full-length video, and typically these teasers or previews (otherwise considered a ‘trailer’ for your videos), which are about 1-minute long, have to entice users into viewing the entire video.

The best way to do that, is by using a cliffhanger at the 1-minute mark of your video!

A cliffhanger is an action or words where something noteworthy happens, or someone in the video says something of interest, that leaves people wondering what’s next. For a pet business, a cliffhanger in a DIY dog treat recipe video would be explaining that the recipe has a secret healthy ingredient, and “this is it”. If people want to know what the ingredient is, they’ll have to keep watching.

Step 5: Use thumbnails and titles to your advantage.

You can customize the thumbnails and titles of each IGTV video you upload. And you’ll want to take advantage of these video thumbnails and titles, because they play a very important role in enticing people to watch your content, and beyond just promoting your IGTV content through Instagram Stories and Posts, these other elements go a long way in promoting your content, too.

Let’s talk thumbnails

Good thumbnails for IGTV videos will include at least one face of the person or people in your video. If you’re featuring animals in your video, showing a pet’s face can work, too. Showing faces helps audiences connect on an emotional level with that piece of content because they can see the emotion in people’s facial expressions.

Do: feature faces of people and/or animals, and use colours that reflect the emotions in the video when designing your thumbnails.

Don’t: use stills from the video itself, as they can be blurry and low-quality

Let’s talk titles

IGTV, like Instagram itself, is viewed on mobile and in mobile sizing (usually 16:9), so it’s important to consider how a mobile view can cut off or truncate your title. We recommend focusing heavily on the first 3-4 words in each title you use for your videos, as these are the words people will see when they look at your IGTV videos. By putting the important words first, you have a better chance of capturing a user’s attention. This is called not burying the lead.

Here’s an example of a good title: DIY Natural Dog Treats

Here’s an example of a bad title: How to make natural dog treats at home

The first title tells people right off the bat what they’re doing to find or learn in the video, whereas the second title would get cut off after ‘make’ or ‘natural’ and not give audiences any idea as to what the video is about. And that fails to pique their interest!

Using these optimized thumbnails and titles will help you when you go promote your content, which you can do through Stories, Posts, and IG Lives! A good rule of thumb is to promote your new IGTV videos at least

Step 6: Promote your IGTV videos. Then, promote them some more!

One of the easiest ways to set your IGTV content up for failure is by failing to promote it!

Whether you’ve made cinema-level videos or rough cuts on your mobile device, if you don’t promote your IGTV videos, none of the work you’ve put in will matter. That’s because you have to give your audiences a reason to go watch them!

Here are a few of our top tips for promoting your IGTV videos each time you release a new one.

Use IG Stories

Don’t forget, IG Stories have a lot of cool features (like GIFs, Stickers, and the ability to mention other users) that you can leverage to promote not just IGTV, but all of your content!

When it comes to promoting a new IGTV video, using IG Stories to promote an announcement with Stickers or GIFs at least 3 days before the new video is added can help get people excited about NEW content!

Then, 2 days out, consider posting another IG Story using something like the Countdown sticker to add a sense of urgency so that people follow along and don’t forget to tune into your new content.

Once your new content has been posted, use IG Stories to share a preview of the content from your IGTV and encourage people to go view it!

Use other platforms

It’s not just Instagram that can be leveraged as a way of promoting IGTV content – you can use other platforms as well!

For example, promoting your IGTV content on Facebook is a great way of getting a different audience you have onto a different platform, and engage them using omnichannel marketing.

The key when promoting your IGTV content is remember that promoting is consistently will get your audiences accustomed to your new content. The upside of this is that you’ll have more engaged followers who look forward to seeing your content and get excited about what you put out!

Using insights to inform your strategy

Like any social media marketing strategy, insights and data should factor into your IGTV strategy. And that’s because gathering insights like analytics can help you determine whether your IGTV strategy and content is working for your business, or against it.

Now, Instagram’s IGTV analytics aren’t as robust as those for individual Instagram posts or for your general account, but they can help paint a picture over time about how your content performs. And this will tell you if your content is effective, or if you’ll have to try a different angle.

You can access the insights for each of your IGTV videos by tapping the “…” icon that appears in the bottom middle of your mobile screen as your video is playing. Then, you click “View Insights” which will show you different metrics like Engagement which includes Views, Likes, Comments, and even Audience Retention.

While metrics like Engagement are good to watch, Audience Retention is where you’ll want to focus much of your attention, because this data tells you how long your video kept your audience’s attention for. It basically shows you how much of your video was watched by the people who watched it, even if they fast-forwarded through or went back and watched from the beginning.

Here’s why monitoring these insights matters:

  • The data you monitor over a few IGTV videos will help inform your strategy going forward
  • These insights can tell you whether your content themes are interesting to your audience, or falling flat
  • They’ll help you determine what the optimal length is for your IGTV videos

And, overall, the insights will help you figure out whether IGTV is helping you grow your brand awareness on Instagram.

At the end of the day, whether you use IGTV or not, there’s no denying the power and opportunity this Instagram tool/feature provides businesses both large and small. As the owner of a small pet business, increasing your brand awareness is a key reason to use platforms like Instagram, and testing different engagement and traffic sources like IGTV is always a good idea…provided you have a strategy in place!

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