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Opinion

Instagram Live Video: Three Years On

Today marks three years since the introduction of live video to Instagram. Adam Williams, CEO of Takumi shares how video has changed the influencer landscape.

Today marks three years since the introduction of live video to Instagram. The launch of Instagram Stories earlier in 2016 prompted a shift in attitudes towards the platform, encouraging a more informal and ‘real’ presentation of influencers to their followers –and since the introduction of shoppable links they have become an increasingly important component of influencer marketing campaigns. The development of Instagram Live Video several months later built on the popularity of video on the platform and encouraged instantaneous sharing, which has allowed users to interact with their followers in real-time.

Since 2016 the use of video across Instagram has evolved beyond live, and now forms a substantial part of the platform’s user-generated content. The most recent development of IGTV cemented Instagram as a one-stop multi-format app – and the immediate rise in Facebook’s share prices of over 2.2% in response to its launch demonstrated the value of video content.

The growth of video content on Instagram

The proliferation of video-based content across Instagram provides an exciting opportunity for the influencer marketing community. Over the past three years, the landscape has changed to reflect this transition, with an ever-increasing number of multi-format and video-driven campaigns taking centre stage.

Since the video was first introduced to Instagram, viewing rates have climbed rapidly, with 60% more views in 2018 than in previous years. This dominance, however, demands a more complex skillset from both creators and brands, and there remain things to consider when creating campaigns across multiple mediums and using long-form video content. 

New Instagram video functions can be harnessed by both influencers and brands to develop engaging marketing campaigns. Instagram has forecast that by 2021, mobile video will account for 78% of total mobile data traffic – and maintaining that engagement in-app is key to securing Instagram’s continuing popularity.

The marketing opportunities

Taking inspiration from other platforms, Instagram has built competitive tools to grow its video content offering. This has resulted in a number of influencers from platforms such as YouTube migrating to Instagram to experiment with the new video formats available, particularly since the launch of IGTV last year. And Instagram is supporting this move – developments such as push notifications to alert users to the publication of new live videos and the introduction of live video content into the user’s main feed have accelerated its uptake. This cross-pollination has encouraged an integrated user experience across different mediums. This has helped to keep users engaged with brands for longer and the different content formats can add an extra dimension to the brand’s personality while also allowing influencers to get more creative.

Successfully integrating live and long-form video alongside more traditional content formats such as sponsored posts and carousels has the potential to massively increase consumer outreach. We have already seen this with the monetisation of Instagram video through affiliate links, which prompt users to open a new purchase window. Although currently, this is the only way to directly make money through video content, the increased engagement generated allows influencers to connect more closely with their followers, creating the authenticity craved by brands and consumers alike – and in the world of Instagram, authenticity equals success.   

The challenges of video

Instagram video is not only drawing in new users but is also challenging the way current users think. Long-form video content demands different skills from creators, requiring a much higher level of technical production – influencers are faced with the need to include sound and special effects, considerably increasing the amount of time spent on each post.  Whilst this challenge might be a turn-off for some influencers, it provides an exciting opportunity for brands to support them in producing compelling, high-quality video content. 

More than half of marketers surveyed in Takumi’s latest research, ‘Trust, Transactions and Trendsetters’, felt that ASA and FTC guidelines, although clear, do need further development. This presents a challenge for video-based content, where the guidelines are even less clear. #Ad and other relevant labels should be clearly visible on all sponsored posts, but given the instantaneous nature of live video content, this becomes more difficult to monitor – something which can have a negative impact on both influencers and marketers. Takumi’s whitepaper also found that, shockingly, 62% of influencers had been pressured by brands to contravene ASA guidelines at least once and without more clarity or stricter regulations, it’s possible this number could increase.

Instagram video has come a long way since the launch of Live Video in 2016. Initially developed to allow users to engage more closely with their followers, video has since become a key element of most influencer marketing campaigns. The possibilities offered by video-led influencer marketing campaigns are exciting for the industry’s future – but brands, marketers, and consumers need to be aware of the challenges that remain in an evolving industry.

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