To say that smartphones shape our lives would be an understatement. They have revolutionised the way we interact with other people, influenced how quickly our brains process information and changed our language. They also dictate the way we spend our free time and how we consume media. Video consumption on mobile is experiencing a rapid growth and, according to Facebook, the time spent watching videos on Instagram is up 80% year on year.
Kevin Systrom recognised the power of mobile when he launched Instagram as a mobile-only photo sharing platform back in 2010. Fast forward 8 years and Instagram is one of the most popular social networks with 1 billion monthly users across the globe and around 4.2 billion photos and videos being liked on the platform every day. More importantly for advertisers, 80% of users follow a business on Instagram which presents a huge opportunity for brands. The latest product update brings us the launch of IGTV; an app for long-form vertical video and Instagram’s response to a growing trend – shifting away from TV to mobile video.
It’s one thing to admit that we ‘second-screen’ – use our mobile whilst watching TV but yet another to say goodbye to the once most-loved medium. It’s time though to ask the question: will mobile replace TV? Also, are the days of watching a programme at a fixed time, the same time as everyone else, truly over? I’m not convinced the answer to either of those questions can be a definite yes.
Humans are social beings: we like the sense of community and belonging. We crave moments that we can share with others; which is why social media exists, why word of mouth is the best form marketing and why big sporting events (or Love Island) bring people together.
So what’s my take on IGTV? It replicates TV watching behaviour we’re all used to – you turn on the TV and skip through available stations but unlike the standard ‘one size fits all’ list of channels this is a personalised menu. Is long-form content suitable for mobile though? Will we be able to watch a 40-min video on a mobile screen without itching to use our phones again?