How Instagram Steals like an Artist

Cody Nailor - PR Associate

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The phrase, “Good artists copy; great artists steal” has been attributed to many different folks throughout history: Igor Stravinsky, William Faulkner, and even Pablo Picasso.1

The idea behind the quote is simple: direct plagiarism is uncool, but taking an idea and reworking it to be your own could land you in the history books. By this principle, Instagram is arguably one of the best artists of the 21st century – combining ideas from Snapchat, Periscope, and now, YouTube, to continue advancing their successful social media empire.

On June 20, 2018, Instagram announced IGTV – a vertical video platform similar to their “Stories” feature. However, IGTV removes the length limit on uploaded videos and is designed to allow creators to engage with their audience in a (slightly) new way – proving, once again, Instagram’s prowess to take an idea from another successful platform and adapt it to theirs.

And, we think there are a few things we can all learn from IGTV’s launch.

First, Listen to Your Audience

Instagram showed they were listening to their audience with Instagram Stories. They noticed the popularity of Snapchat, found a clever way to add those features to their own platform, added a few new options (like Boomerang), and combined it with the live video function of Periscope to create a one-stop short video shop for their users.

Similarly, IGTV is piggybacking on the success of video platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. However, IGTV is adapted to better-fit viewing on mobile phones than either of those platforms. By dictating that creators upload videos in a portrait view only, Instagram acknowledges that people are consuming most video content on their phones now. Switching from landscape to portrait removes creates full-screen videos that don’t even require the user to turn their phone sideways to enjoy completely.

This slight edge may be all they need to successfully compete with YouTube in a content market over which they have a monopoly.

Establish Social Proof

By allowing influencers to create an IGTV channel with their existing Instagram account and immediately begin broadcasting to the audience they’ve already developed, Instagram makes it incredibly simple for creators to hop on this new platform and begin producing content for an audience that is already attentive to their message. On top of all of this, in pre-launch meetings with some influencers on their platform, Instagram indicated that they will begin monetizing their content (similarly to YouTube and Facebook) soon. Monetization creates plenty of reasons for creators and influencers to add IGTV to their distribution.

Authenticity Is Important

The last thing I want to point out is something I’ve already noticed among users of IGTV: authenticity is expressly important.

It’s really easy to tell who took the time to create their content with IGTV in mind and who merely jumped on the bandwagon by simply adapting their widescreen video to fit the new portrait view. It can be really inspiring to try to frame content in a new way, but if you don’t invest the time in creating for the new layout and instead try to stuff your old tricks in a new bag, the clunkiness of your delivery will make your message feel obsolete.

Don’t Be Afraid to Steal

If you’re looking for the next thing to revolutionize how you connect with your audience and patrons, don’t be afraid to look at what’s already being done. If you’re going to steal, add your own flair. Keep your audience in mind, and be yourself. It will be clear if you’re faking it. Now, get out there and steal, you artist you!

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Notes & Gossip 📌

  1. Douglas, N. (2017, September 26). An Artist Explains What “Great Artists Steal” Really Means. https://lifehacker.com/an-artist-explains-what-great-artists-steal-really-me-1818808264

Scholarly Shout-outs 🌟

  • Brownlee, M. (2018, June 20). On IGTV and YouTube Competition! https://youtu.be/sWeeGAj61dA
  • Douglas, N. (2017, September 26). An Artist Explains What “Great Artists Steal” Really Means. https://lifehacker.com/an-artist-explains-what-great-artists-steal-really-me-1818808264
  • Phelan, David. (2018, June 21). Why IGTV Is Instagram's Bravest Update Yet: Longer Video App To Take On YouTube. https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidphelan/2018/06/21/instagram-reveals-igtv-dedicated-hub-and-new-app-for-much-longer-videos/#5d27e5352a7b

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