Social photo app Instagram added the ability to shoot and share videos last week, giving the similar app Vine some huge competition. Vine had seen much support for its six-second sharable videos, even from brands. In our March feature “Vine Video Marketing: Say it in Six Seconds” we showed how companies such as Toyota, NBC, Dove, and Urban Outfitters have already experimented with the app.
But now Instagram has video, and Vine should be nervous. For one thing, Instagram videos are 15-seconds, not 6. That’s the same length as a short pre-roll video ad, and it gives brands more time to put across a clever or persuasive message. For another thing, Instagram has a huge user base already on-hand: 130 million active users (nearly ten times what Vine has). That’s why its users posted over 5 million videos the first day that Instagram added video.
Many of those early users were brands. According to The Guardian, Burberry, Jeep, Gap, and Lululemon all used Instagram video from the start.
Some experts say that 15-second length is especially attractive to brands.
“The 15-second format is killer. Advertisers and brands are used to the format and comfortable with it. Coupled with the reach afforded by Instagram’s 130 million user base, brands have a huge engagement opportunity from day one,” said Jonathan Lyon, global director of strategic insight at marketing and technology agency LBI, as quoted in The Guardian.
Besides length, Instagram has a few video features that Vine lacks. Brands can use filters to create a mood, avoid the shakes with image stabilization, and offer more sharing options (Instagram videos can be shared with Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Tumblr, Flickr, and email, while Vine videos can only be shared on Facebook and Twitter). Instagram also lets users select one frame to be a cover photo, while Vine takes the first frame automatically.
Brands will also like the no-nudity policy on Instagram. That creates a more brand-safe environment that the anything-goes arena of Vine.
In the early competition between Instagram and Vine, one app is already the clear leader. There are, however, voices saying that Vine still has a place. A column in Entrepreneur argued that both apps will be used to tell different types of stories. The Street asserted that six-second videos were a better option for reaching consumers with short attention spans. That may be true, but it feels like the exodus from Vine has already begun.
If your brand turns to Instagram — and it’s worth experimenting — don’t simply use the app to repurpose existing 15-second ads. That’s a great way to drive viewers away. Use it to communicate your brand’s identity, have fun, answer questions, and provide useful information about your product. Keep up a regular posting schedule, offer interesting and useful clips, and watch your follower count grow.