Auto dealerships that want to be relevant in the mobile era are turning to Instagram, as well they should. The mobile-centric platform recently celebrated an incredible milestone by reaching one billion monthly active users[i]. To put that number in perspective, Instagram now has roughly half as many monthly users as Facebook even though Facebook has a six-year head start on Instagram[ii]. No wonder Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 (when Instagram had fewer than 100 million users)[iii]. And Instagram continues to give businesses tools to engage with customers – so long as you know how to use them. A case in point: the new Instagram IGTV feature.
IGTV is a video uploading and sharing option that makes it possible for Instagram users (both people and businesses) to create longer-form content. Until Instagram announced IGTV on June 20, users were restricted to posting one-minute videos on their main feeds or 15-second snippets to their Stories. With IGTV, users can post video content that is as lengthy as 10 minutes (even longer for larger and verified accounts).
In addition, IGTV is designed for recording on a mobile phone, meaning you record videos in vertical (or portrait) format, or the way you naturally hold your phone. As a result, the video content fills the screen instead of having awkward black borders appear around the content as happens when you record a video by holding your phone vertically instead of tilting it horizontally (or landscape style).
We’ve blogged about dealerships successfully using Instagram, and we’re eager to see how dealers embrace IGTV. As you use IGTV to build your dealership’s brand, we have a few tips for you:
1 Tell Stories Intelligently
Just because users can record as much as one hour of video content on IGTV doesn’t mean you should. First know why you want to use IGTV, what story you want to tell, and how you will tell it. One natural temptation is to do an in-depth lot tour with IGTV. But how many of your customers really want to tour your entire lot for an hour? Don’t exhaust your viewers.
If a 15-second tour of your lot has been getting great engagement via Instagram Stories or as a one-minute post on your main feed, don’t stop doing them. Resist the temptation to pile on more content through an expanded IGTV segment. Instead, perhaps IGTV might be a good opportunity to give an in-depth tour of your hottest-selling vehicle with some explanation provided; or to provide an interesting glimpse at a community event your dealership is part of, to name a few examples of where it might make more sense to provide content that breaks free of the constraints of Instagram video.
2 Understand How to Use the Format
One of the joys of using a format like Instagram is that you can represent your business in an organic way. As we have blogged, dealerships have made their brands more authentic by capturing images and video of their customers and employees as they interact with each other and explore the cars of their dreams. You don’t need to create slick content to engage people – all you need is a mobile phone.
But you do want to be professional. Remember, how your content looks and sounds reflects on your brand. An Instagram video with muffled sound and poor lighting is like a dealership lobby with a broken window: ugly and uninviting. So make sure you get the basics right. For instance:
- Avoid the temptation to re-purpose video you have taken on other platforms such as YouTube unless you have tested the content for IGTV. Remember, IGTV is formatted for a vertical view. If you created video holding your phone horizontally, that content is probably not going to look good on IGTV.
- Consider your audience viewing your content on their mobile phones. Everything you create needs to show up well on a tiny screen held in portrait mode. Think through the shots you are going to take before you take them. Favor tight, simple close-ups that fill your screen, and use IGTV’s cover-image editing function to display a thumbnail from your video that will really pop on a tiny screen.
- Understand IGTV’s features. Get familiar with the tools IGTV provides to make your content more accessible. For example, you’ll need to give each IGTV segment a title and a brief description. Write something that would be as catchy as the best tweet you’ve ever seen. As noted, edit your cover. Understand also that your viewers can post comments on your content. Be ready to engage with them.
To capitalize on a new tool such as IGTV, cast your nets far and wide for ideas. Look outside the automotive industry for inspiration. On your personal account, watch the IGTV content that Instagram suggests for you, and explore other accounts for ideas. If you find someone’s IGTV segment to be a boring turn-off, ask yourself why – and when content engages you, think through the reasons you were engaged. Learn from your own experiences.
IGTV is already proving to be a compelling way for people and businesses to engage audiences with content. Learn from the early adopters and make your brand shine for the mobile generation.
For more tips, check out the IGTV Help Center.
About the Author
Sarah Epstein, Director of Brand Marketing, Cars.com
As Director of Brand Marketing at Cars.com, Sarah Epstein helps lead the company’s consumer brand and creative strategy. As a strategic storyteller, she develops dynamic and engaging content and campaigns that drive awareness and brand differentiation. Her passion for marketing and cross-departmental capabilities inspires and motivates her colleagues to seek out new opportunities and tackle challenges, making her a fast leader at Cars.com.
Prior to joining Cars.com, Epstein honed her marketing skills at Grub Hub as a Senior Brand Manager developing and defining their consumer marketing strategy to maintain consistent messaging and brand integrity. Preceding her contributions to Grub Hub, she worked at OMD creating digital advertising programs for brands such as Intel, Nordstrom, and Barilla Pasta. Epstein’s unique ability to identify, strategize, and develop breakthrough insights through innovative, creative campaigns has set her apart in her field; in 2016 she was presented the Jay Chiat Award for Regional Strategy for Seamless as well as a USA finalist for Cannes Young Lions.
Epstein graduated with a degree in Communications with minor in Business from Penn State University. She currently resides in Chicago with her fiancé and her golden retriever, Winnie.
[i] TechCrunch, “Instagram Hits 1 Billion Monthly Users, up from 800M in September”
Author: Contributing Writer
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