In the 9 years since its inception, Instagram has gone beyond just being a photo-sharing platform and has since created an entire digital ecosystem where new levels of creativity are explored, and creators are born and celebrated. As previous generations of creators have set the bar for what content creators do in the digital space today, Instagram is making sure that the next generation of creators is set for success by introducing a home for cultivating inspiration, education and ideas - @Creators on Instagram. The new profile and creators hub has been a labor of love for months for the Instagram team, including two powerhouses that helped bring the idea to fruition: Instagram's Brooke Ozaydinli and Sarissa Thrower, who both support creator efforts on the platform. We chatted with both of them to get the down-low on the new profile and to gain more insight on how Instagram hopes to inspire the next generation of content creators with @Creators, content best practices, the future of monetizing on IGTV, Instagram's refocus on engagement, the silver lining of the algorithm, and MUCH more. Dive in to get the exclusive, inside scoop on this valuable new tool for creators.
PLANOLY: What inspired Instagram to create this account dedicated to creators? Can you tell us about the team behind it?
Brooke: "It was important for us to create a home on Instagram where we could demonstrate our own products on the platform. When talking about a tip for Stories or IGTV, we wanted to be able to share that on Instagram versus driving you to the help center or sending a PDF of instructions.
"This young audience is not as likely to sign up for an email marketing newsletter, so it's a way that we can make product education fun, and really bring our own best practices to life. We wanted to make sure we had the right team and resources so that we could do this in a way that resonates with the community."
PLANOLY: The algorithm is a topic that is always top of mind for anyone that uses Instagram, and there's a lot of misconceptions that has led people to feeling defeated by the algorithm. For the sake of clarity to those misconceptions, what is the silver lining of the algorithm, and how does it actually help the Instagram ecosystem for both consumers and creators?
Brooke: "Switching to rank feed makes it so that the average post actually connects to 50% more followers than it did with the chronological feed, and that's something that's been true of the product. A lot of people ask, 'Why won't you go back to chronological feed?', but rank feed is actually better because your posts are actually seen by more people."
PLANOLY: There's also a lot of talk about Instagram hiding likes in select markets and possibly doing it worldwide. With this change, it seems as though it will cause a pivot the way we look at engagement within the digital space. How does Instagram prioritize engagement internally? Are likes and comments lower on the totem pole of engagement and are saves and shares more important?
Brooke: "The @Creators account is focused primarily on education. We thought it'd be important to look at how much people are saving the information to return to later or sharing amongst their community, and that's something that we've prioritized internally.
"In terms of overall engagement, it all depends on what type of creator you are and what the goal of your account is. If you're a business, maybe it's about driving to your site and conversions on products, and the goal may be different for another content creator. Overall, it depends on the type of account you have and your unique goals.
PLANOLY: Since the @Creators account is focused primarily on education, we're sure Instagram is sitting on tons of data and case studies that can be used to determine how to create better content. How does the @Creators account hope to inspire and guide the next generation of creators with tools, information, and education that perhaps they didn't have before?
Brooke: " The biggest opportunity we have with the @Creators account is to take a step back as Instagram and provide this platform for the people who have done it successfully. These amazing creators who have built an audience of millions of people all on their own just by being consistent and committed. So how can we tell their stories?
"Our first IGTV series on @Creators, "How I Create?" is with @adamw, and he goes into very specific detail about his posting strategy, the content upload specifics, how he makes his videos visually compelling so that they generate interest from beyond just an English-speaking audience, and how he uses his insights to understand his audience and general demographics. I think the opportunity is really how we can allow the people that have gotten it so right to share very transparently with the audience on how they've done it."
Sarissa: "We're also thinking of the @Creators account as a way for us to get a sneak peek and think about trends for creators and insight into how they're thinking about the content format and the creation they're doing from a next-gen standpoint. The digital world moves very quickly, and format/content types are changing all the time. When you only have 10-60 seconds to get a message across, you have to be calculated and driven in how you're telling that story. Figuring out how to do that from a brand-driving perspective as a creator or from a producer or editor perspective, and bringing that together in a cohesive, narrative arc is something we're going to be keeping an eye out for."
PLANOLY: Along with @adamw, you have also featured amazing creators like @LalaMilan and @SusieMeoww. What were the key factors that stood out to you in choosing the creators that you featured on the @creators page?
Brooke: "We've been leaning into the fact that video consumption on Instagram is up 60% throughout the platform vs. 2018 and so we wanted to make sure that everyone we featured for our launch content really spoke to the best of what Instagram could be, with video creators specifically.
"All of the creators that are really breaking through are the ones that are invested in video, and it's not just creators, it's brands on Instagram in general. We wanted to make sure that we're featuring the best in class video creators who have invested in IGTV and are really invested in the craft of long-form video content so they can inspire people who are just getting started or unsure of how to begin on IGTV."
PLANOLY: Little by little, more creators and brands are making their way to IGTV, however, as you mentioned, there are those people that are unsure of how to get started on the vertical. What are some key reasons that point as to why people should dive into IGTV?
Sarissa: "We've been actively releasing various tools and products to support IGTV and encourage growth within the ecosystem for IGTV. We've also been working to supplement and support the creator proposition and value for IGTV, so what that looks like is giving tools and best practices, which you'll see on the @Creators account. Some of those tools we've already been pushing and messaging since the launch of IGTV; for example, series format content, different types of formats that work from a production standpoint (lofi vs. hifi), how to produce different types of content (Q&A formats, tutorial formats), and what translates well for an audience that is highly vertically centered vs. an audience that works out of a landscape mode. There's indicators that IGTV is given to certain content types, format types, and production types, and it's definitely a growth platform that we've been seeing a lot more engagement on, and growth overall since launch [in 2018]."
PLANOLY: For us, IGTV has a different approach to content against a competitor like YouTube. As you try to onboard more creators to IGTV, how do you see them making the merge from YouTube to IGTV without creating content that's repetitive? How do you see them approach content creation on IGTV differently?
Sarissa: "One thing we have shared from a best practices/resource perspective is to really utilize the tools we've given on Instagram as a platform that YouTube doesn't necessarily offer to engage your followership and ask them what they want. IG has Polling stickers, Question stickers, and ways to ask them what they'd like to see. If your audience is engaged, they'll be very vocal and tell you exactly what they want to see more of.
"The other thing is I think the expectation of interaction is very different from YouTube to Instagram, even when you're talking about long-form content. People come to Instagram for a different reason a lot of the time - it's a one-stop shop; you have your feed, Stories, DM's, and IGTV for long-form content. There's a whole level of discovery that feels more organic, native,and flow-through-y from an algorithmic standpoint on Instagram than on YouTube. With YouTube, it's always the same interaction - you know you're going to get a video no matter what you tap on. With Instagram, the different surfaces enable you to see photos, Stories, videos, etc, so we always recommend asking the audience what they want to see, and thinking carefully about how people interact."Brooke: "When you have a community on Instagram, driving them to another platform to watch a long-form video is not something you have to do anymore. What we've seen the savviest IGTV creators do is not create in a vacuum by spending a ton of effort creating a video in the hopes that their audience will love it, but actively bringing their audience along by asking them what they want to see by utilizing engagement tools like Question stickers. That's a unique benefit to engaging with your Instagram community to make your long-form content better."
PLANOLY: On a technical standpoint for success, what are some of the key strategies to ensure that your content is titled and formatted correctly? How important are captions and hashtags when titling your content on IGTV?
Brooke: "One of the things that we see is that people spend a ton of time and energy creating their video, and then the thumbnail and title are an afterthought, and that's definitely not what you want to do. A great title and thumbnail is oftentimes what makes people decide if they're going to watch your video or not. Packaging is a really important part of IGTV creation.
"One thing that I cannot say enough is that people should take the time and energy to create a custom cover image. A recent update we made is that you can select the crop of that image, which is a great new incentive on IGTV. Uploading a custom thumbnail is key, and because IGTV is on mobile, oftentimes titles get truncated, which is why we recommend that you focus on the first three words of your IGTV title. So for example, instead of titling a video 'Come with us behind the scenes at Coachella', just start with 'Coachella' and go from there so your first three words are the most impactful."
Key takeaways for formatting IGTV videos:
- Make the first 3 words of your title the most important.
- Upload a custom thumbnail/cover image for your IGTV video.
- Utilize relevant hashtags within your caption.
- Don't forget to use links!
PLANOLY: This is probably already on your roadmap, but is there a timeline of when creators will be able to monetize on IGTV?
Sarissa: "It's active, in progress, and we're working on it. We can't share the timeline yet, but we know it's what the people want, so we're working very hard to get it going."
PLANOLY: Is there any insight on what we can expect to see in the future on the @creators account?
Brooke: "For starters, more creative best practices and inspiration from some of the top creators on the platform and learning the behind-the-scenes to all of the great work that they do. Continued insights from Instagram on our platform that we know would be useful and helpful to people creating content. Well-being tips: we know that well-being is so important, especially for people who are highly invested and spend a lot of time on the platform, so we definitely want to make sure that we support creators from a well-being perspective. Tips around how to create great video content and how to engage your audience. Finally, product news and updates. We're constantly launching products on Instagram, so we want to make sure the @Creators account is the place to know when a product launches, what it is, how you should be using it, and we want to educate our audience on all of the new, great products we have."
About Sarissa Thrower - @rtotheissa Sarissa is a self-proclaimed storyteller with a keen eye for solutions, a seasoned digital and entertainment communications executive with 14+ years of experience building, implementing, and executing on strategic messaging campaigns, a Los Angeles evangelist (say that three times fast), a casual observer, and a sparkling wine enthusiast. Currently, she leads digital creator and entertainment communications for Instagram in LA. In her spare time, she enjoys live events, trying new restaurants, and the Internet. About Brooke Ozaydinli - @brookedevard Brooke DeVard Ozaydinli is a Product Marketing Manager for Partner Marketing at Instagram and creator and host of Naked Beauty - a podcast where she discusses beauty, self-care and wellness with the women she admires most. Prior to Instagram, Brooke worked at Viacom overseeing digital marketing and content strategy and before that, at Ralph Lauren as a social media manager, overseeing social strategy for their luxury brands. Brooke started her career in London as a product marketing manager for Nokia's entertainment team, after graduating from Stanford University.