Rethinking A Common Video Practice for IGTV

Social media often changes the way we have to approach creating content because it is an ever-changing landscape. When platforms add new features or new content types, it often forces an industry to rethink common practices and with IGTV (Instagram TV, which are videos longer than 60 seconds on Instagram) becoming popular, we need to shift how we think about lower thirds and captions in videos. 

Have you ever watched a documentary or interview and the name of the person or place shows up in the bottom left corner? Those are called lower thirds in the video industry. They are pretty great tools for communicating information quickly while not being too distracting. A good example of this is how easily they can build credibility of the person on screen. Let’s say for instance in a video about a restaurant there is an individual giving a personal testimonial. If there were no lower thirds, then the viewer might not know whether to believe what the individual is saying, but if a lower third pops up with that person’s name and their food critic job title, the viewer instantly has more of a frame of reference for how credible this testimony is. But what happens if a person seeing your video can’t see the lower thirds or the captions?

As I mentioned before, the bottom portion of the screen is usually reserved for lower thirds and captions in videos, which has carried over to the vertical format of IGTV. Yet lately I’ve been noticing a usability issue that this is causing. When browsing in the discovery feed, or even in the main feed, sometimes IGTV content is previewed in a square format and the bottom of the video is cut off. This means that unless the user can recognize the content shown to them in that preview, they often don’t know what’s going on unless they click on the video to view it. This isn’t always enticing, especially if you don’t know what you’re clicking on. 

We always have to find ways to adapt to the digital landscape and make content the best it can be across all platforms. This is no different. It just means making sure we position information for its greatest impact. If videos are intended for IGTV, it would be smart to make sure any pertinent information is communicated within a central square, including logos, captions, lower thirds, title sequences etc.