Jessica Laurendeau with Boston Children’s Hospital shares how they launched and are building out their IGTV strategy

There's a lot of research that goes on before we go into how do we create content for IGTV and how it works with our overall video content strategy. Jessica Laurendeau
Back in the fall of 2018 when Instagram first came out with IGTV, Boston Children’s Hospital Manager of Social Media and Enterprise Engagement Jessica Laurendeau and her team saw an opportunity for them to potentially house longer format videos and use it as an extension of their existing Instagram channel. Because of their follower base (39,000 on their main channel), Jessica said when something new comes through, they’re usually some of the first people to get access to it.

She and her social media coordinator immediately got to work brainstorming what their content strategy for the new feature would look like — as well as whether it was worth their time as a small team with limited resources.

Jessica said their first step was learning as much as they could about IGTV and what kind of content played well there.

“There’s a lot of research that goes on before we go into how do we create content for IGTV and how it works with our overall video content strategy,” she said. “Aligning on those fronts was important to our team.”

After the initial research was over, Jessica tasked her coordinator and their intern with putting together a content strategy and figuring out what videos they already had that could be reformatted for IGTV, whether it’s an Instagram story that they put together in a longer format or an existing YouTube video.

“I wanted to make sure we had a backlog of content before we went live with our first post,” said Jessica. “That took until spring of 2019. We were figuring out what tools we needed to format and edit videos. We were having weekly conversations around the strategy, but to get 10 videos ready took some time.”

One of the first things they noticed was that a lot of their longer format pieces were around events.

We were having weekly conversations around the strategy, but to get 10 videos ready took some time. Jessica Laurendeau
“We decided to focus on those videos as our pilot for IGTV,” said Jessica. “We tested it with a video that was events-specific, looked at the metrics, and decided whether it was worth it to continue using resources on IGTV.”

They now have over 20 videos on their IGTV channel and try to publish more than once a month. But, she said, with limited resources, it can be difficult and time-consuming to find and reformat the videos.

To alleviate that, they’re now thinking about what they can capture at events or in interviews developed specifically for IGTV.

“We saw an opportunity with events we were already going to be at to start recording in the correct format for IGTV as well,” she said.

They’re also planning a series including videos of the therapy dogs in their Pawprints animal visitation program. “We want to use IGTV as a platform to share those full videos, instead of just snippets,” said Jessica.

She said as they saw more opportunities like Pawprints to expand outside of the events space, they strategized around what would be worth the time to reformat.

Our next step is developing content to educate our patients' families in this platform by using a video series that makes use of that kind of format. Jessica Laurendeau

While she emphasized she and her team are still figuring out the perfect mix of content, they’ve found that tutorials work well on IGTV. “Our next step is developing content to educate our patients’ families in this platform by using a video series that makes use of that kind of format,” said Jessica.

One of their biggest high-level goals was getting people to engage with their Instagram content across the board.

“We’re promoting every video we publish on IGTV, Instagram Stories, and on the News Feed,” she said. “We wanted to keep them in-platform to engage, comment, and view.”

She said that can be a challenge with this content, especially Instagram Stories, because people click through without watching.

“They’re almost conditioned to hit next in the Stories, and with the News Feed, they’re conditioned to keep scrolling,” she said. “IGTV can be a good solution for that because it keeps the audience in the platform watching the video.”

She said they are also focused on optimizing their IGTV video length.

We want to keep them short because we know the attention span is not going to be there for a five- or six-minute video. Jessica Laurendeau
“We want to keep them short because we know the attention span is not going to be there for a five- or six-minute video,” said Jessica. “For our purposes, people want to see highlight reels for events they participated in and bigger announcement pieces, as well as some of the long format videos that would have gone on YouTube or our Instagram channel.”

The longer the video, the worse it does for them, Jessica said. “For video length, I think between one and two minutes is the sweet spot,” she said. “Anything longer and you lose people.”

Looking at their fiscal year strategy, Jessica said they plan to create social-first content — and doubling down on IGTV.

“We’re going to be shooting videos specifically with IGTV in mind,” she said. “We want it to look like it’s supposed to be for IGTV and speak directly to our Instagram audience. I think if we take the time to create content for the platform, it’s going to lead to better results because people want to see something that’s made specifically for what they’re using.”

After that, she said she sees their next step is to have their own “tv” network on their Instagram channel and to take advantage of the opportunities to do more series with their care teams.

According to Jessica, their partnerships within the hospital have played a big role in helping them get their content out.

We want it to look like it's supposed to be for IGTV and speak directly to our Instagram audience. Jessica Laurendeau
“We’re very fortunate because we have a creative team and a marketing team that we pair closely with,” she said. “We collaborate with them on the different ways we can utilize social to get our key messages out. But, for the purposes of this project, a lot of what we’re doing is grassroots — primarily based on the relationships that my coordinator and I have with people in the hospital.”

Jessica said they start by pitching a series to their creative and marketing teams, who get back to them with relevant information. Then, they build that storyline out and circle back to them so everyone knows what they’re going to talk about, and she and her team have a better idea of how they can capture it.

She also emphasized that all the work they’ve done so far has been a major team effort. “This project was spearheaded by my coordinator working alongside my intern,” she said. “I’m still working with them on high-level strategy, but they’re the ones who put this plan together, pitched it, and have been running with it. I feel fortunate to have a team like that.”

She said one of her biggest takeaways from pushing out the content itself is the importance of cross-promotion.

Cross-promotion is key because people don't think to necessarily look at IGTV. Jessica Laurendeau
“Cross-promotion is key because people don’t think to necessarily look at IGTV,” she said. “You have to click into it. If you’re not cross-promoting it through your Instagram Stories or on your newsfeed, people are going to miss it. Make sure you’re tailoring that content towards your IGTV videos.”

But her number one piece of advice for IGTV is testing to see what works best for your audience.

“What works for us won’t necessarily work as well for an adult hospital. We’re in a place where we can make it a little bit kitschy and engaging, while still having some serious key takeaways for our patient families,” said Jessica. “We’re all so hyper-focused on what the data says, but your first five posts are only going to tell you a piece of that story. We’ve already learned so much from our first 10 videos, so I’m interested to see how we adapt our strategy for the next 10.”

Jessica Laurendeau has been a member of SocialMedia.org Health since 2017. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.