Let's crunch some social numbers. Facebook has more than 1 billion monthly active users. Instagram has more than 130 million monthly active users. Twitter has more than 200 million active users. Vine already has more than 13 million users.
That's a huge social presence across four of the most popular media platforms. All are trying to think of a way to draw in and keep users. This is why Instagram now has video.
Vine (owned by Twitter) and Instagram video (owned by Facebook) are two examples of how Twitter and Facebook are evolving and trying to grow.
What are the biggest differences and similarities between the two video apps?
Instagram's rise to power was in big part because of its filters. Whether it was Sienna, Amaro, Hudson, Willow, or Earlybird, filters gave Instagram photos a unique edge that was decidedly cool. Instagram videos get the same treatment. Vine videos are raw and unfiltered -- #unfiltered has become a hashtag phenomenon in its own right.
Not everyone has the hand of a surgeon, which can result in shaky or blurred videos. Instagram gives users the opportunity to fix any shaky motion. You can stabilize your video and, combined with filters, that gives users a way to optimize their videos.
Although both Vine videos and Instagram videos play instantly, they don't play for the same amount of time. That's probably the biggest difference between the two -- length.
What does video length mean for advertisers? What's interesting about Instagram and Vine videos is that the lengths aren't even close to the same. The shorter Vine videos are great for users who don't want to spend a lot of time watching a video, but the lengthier Instagram videos speak to advertisers.
An Instagram video lasts for 15 seconds. A Vine video only gives you six seconds to get your point across. Because Instagram more than doubles the length of a Vine video, it's more likely to appeal to advertisers -- who want as much of your attention as possible. Based on Instagram's seamless integration, Facebook is more likely to get the attention of those advertisers.
So how are businesses going to use it? One already has. Within no time of Instagram video's launch, American Licorice Co. (the maker of Red Vines) uploaded a video showing how licorice makes your day that much sweeter. Here are the things it got right.
- The brand kept it natural: It didn't seem staged, and it didn't feel like a commercial.
- It divided up its 15 seconds: Instead of one continuous shot, its video was made up of shorter scenes.
- It kept it Instagram-y: It had a hipster vibe. It didn't feel forced -- it didn't even have people in it. The brand kept it clean and quaint. It also showed its product name at least four times.
Things other brands could be doing
Keep it unprofessional
Even though brands want to expose their products, it's easy to forget that users on a social network don't necessarily care about your product. Instead of pulling out all the stops making professional-looking videos, keep it amateur -- that's what Instagram is all about.
Incorporate more behind-the-scenes action
Now that businesses have the opportunity to appeal to a huge audience for a full 15 seconds, why not make the most out of it with something easy and inexpensive for them to do? Everyone loves behind-the-scenes action -- shows like "Behind the Ropes" and DVDs with additional commentary have proved that. Why not give users a sneak peek into your brand? They'll know more about you, feel like they know you better, and might be more inclined pay for your product one day.
Who would we like to see make a branded Instagram video? It'd be great to see an Apple vs. Google faceoff when they don't have 30-second commercial spots at their disposal.
Things to keep in mind
Facebook is going to integrate video ads -- and soon
Facebook will most likely be adding video ads to its platform when fall rolls around. Brands can make and upload Instagram videos to Facebook, where target audiences can see them right in their main feed. You could soon be seeing as many as three video ads a day on Facebook.
Video is just the beginning
Instagram used to be just photos. Twitter used to be just status updates. Now they both have video. It seems unlikely that video will be the last addition to either.
Ryan Harris is an internet marketing strategist and writes for a wide array of tech sites including InternetProviders.com.
On Twitter? Follow Harris at @harrisryan30. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
"Play button isolated " image via Shutterstock.