TL;DR they’re following the money
Since the launch of IGTV in 2018, the longer-form video function on Instagram has been…. odd. As videos in Instagram posts are limited to 60 seconds of footage, IGTV offered a space for videos of up to 60 minutes in length. However, creators weren’t given an opportunity to make any money from their videos until just this year.
In May 2020, Instagram finally opened up a revenue share model for its creators posting videos onto IGTV. Publishers and creators alike have both seen IGTV views increase since the app launched the preview windows into the main feed in Feb 2019, and with everybody now largely confined to their houses during the Covid-19 pandemic… what an ideal time to focus on videos that everyone’s watching at home while they dream of simpler times when they could hug a friend in public.
CrowdTangle data doesn’t show a clear pattern of increase or decrease in IGTV views for Instagram’s most followed accounts, so perhaps the revenue capability is being introduced to drive more creators to the platform, which would equal more IGTV views and more money for Instagram, as well as for the creators themselves. It’s a way for the platform to compete with TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat.
Instagram said “We’ll begin testing IGTV ads with a small group of creators and advertisers in the US, and will expand slowly over time as we improve the experience.” In July 2020 creators were also quietly given the ability to edit thumbnails for IGTV previews.
Instagram’s revenue-split initiative is only running in beta (as a test) right now, and with a ‘select group of emerging creators’. The content creators will get 55% of revenue earned from views of ads placed into the IGTV videos by Instagram – the same split offered by YouTube.
You may have also seen the new ability to essentially give creators a tip, via gift “badges” during Instagram Lives. This is seemingly all going to the creator and not to Instagram, and is a decent way for performers to earn money with their Covid-19-enforced digital performances while they miss out on ticket sales for performances IRL. Instagram Live use has increased 70% since the beginning of the pandemic.
In short, YouTubers can now make money from IGTV so they’re starting to use it more, either because they’re part of the beta list or because they know that there will now be a revenue opportunity, so are starting to build up their content and audiences.
This means it’s not too late to start building IGTV content yourself if it’s something that you previously hadn’t bothered with because managing multiple social media accounts is quite enough work already.