26.06.2013 Instagram killed the (Vine) video star?

Our at-a-glance guide to the latest video-sharing app taking the social media world by storm.

When Facebook-owned Instagram announced it was adding 15-second video clip capabilities to its app, users posted more than 5 million videos in the first 24 hours.

At its peak in June, more than 40 hours of footage was being uploaded a minute. Predictably, it was Justin Bieber who became the first user to attract 1m likes for an Instagram clip.

So what do you need to know about Instagram? Is it a Vine-killer? What are the pros and cons of each medium for marketers and Public Relations practioners?

Here’s the lowdown….

What is Instagram video, in a nutshell?

Instagram is a hugely popular photo-sharing and  social networking app, which we have blogged about previously. Bought by Facebook in 2012,it has over 130 million active users. It allows users to take pictures, apply pretty digital filters and share them on social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook. In June it was announced Instagram will now be offering 15-second video-sharing capability.

How does Instagram video compare with Vine?

Vine, a Twitter-owned service we blogged about earlier this year, offers users the opportunity to create 6-second clips on a loop. Instagram’s clips are longer, but don’t loop.

There are other apps out there that allow you to capture longer clips however; Viddy has a 30-second limit, while Socialcam and YouTube Capture leave it up to the user.

Unlike Vine, Instagram offers 13 filters that can be applied to video clips to give them different visual effects and finishes.

Instagram users can choose to share their content to Facebook, Twitter and/or Tumblr as well as Instagram – although not YouTube, as the square format of the videos doesn’t work on that service.

So will Instagram kill off Vine?

Instagram video is likely to be bigger than Vine for the immediate future, thanks to Instagram’s ready-made audience. Over 130m active users of Instagram have received the feature straight away in app updates, versus 13m iPhone Vine downloads plus 1m-5m on Android since its launch in early June.

Vine’s fans say it’s easier to embed its video content around the web, while Instagram fans point to the choices of filters and ease of use.

In a nutshell, there is definitely room for both apps, and a number of brands including Burberry have been experimenting with both. We think it’s very much a case of (literally) watch this space!

For marketers, what platform works best?

We think Instagram is arguably more valuable for brands because of it’s bigger user base. So for brands who have already invested in building their Instagram following, the new feature is great news. For those that haven’t yet ventured into these waters, it offers more potential followers. The ability to apply filters makes it easier to create retro or futuristic clips, so the creative possibilities are more diverse. Advertising agencies are also embracing the 15 second format, as it’s an established advertising-length format, which allows you to put a bit more of craft and polish into a video clip.

What kind of content can my organisation or brand share on a video-sharing app?

Short video clip is a format that works very well for both practical and engaging content. Fifteen seconds is long enough to answer a customer question, for example, or to put together a great snack-sized how-to guide. It’s a great way to showcase a product in action or in situ; to see clothes being worn, or cosmetics being applied for instance.

What are the long-term implications for brand communications?

Some agencies are claiming that as we become more used to consuming content at speed, maybe 15 seconds will become the new ‘norm’ for TV advertising. According to Simon Rutherford, managing director of social media agency Cubaka:

“Since the first Flash banners in the 1990s internet advertising has had to battle with the reality that it could not match TV advertising’s sheer creative and visual impact. Perhaps this is the turning point, where the lure of filtered 15 second films, achieved at a cut price compared to big budget 30 second TV ads, tips the balance.”

We think that the focus shouldn’t necessarily be on the delivery method – whether it’s Instagram, Vine or any new apps that come along – but about what they’re being used to watch. Short form shareable video may democratise the making process, but the creative ideas that hit you between the eyes and tell stories in a memorable way will, as ever, win the day.

Have you used Instagram video or Vine? Or both? What do you think? Get in touch!