Instagram Adds Video but Can't Compete with YouTube
Ever since the media whipped itself into a frenzy over Instagram's new video function, I've been trying to work out why it's such a big deal. After all, Facebook (Instagram's parent) has allowed video uploads for years now.
Instagram video has been touted as the Vine killer thanks to longer record times, improved editing options and those popular filters. It also helps that Instagram rolled out video to a 130 million strong user base whereas Vine had to start from scratch. But wasn't Vine's whole USP that it was so easy that anybody could do it?
If Instagram's advantage over Vine is more features and longer videos then what happens when somebody brings out a video platform with even longer clips and more editing features? Hang on, it already exists. It's called YouTube and has a whopping 1 billion monthly users.
Let's compare them. I've included Vimeo because it's YouTube's closest competitor in terms of features.
These figures shouldn't be that surprising but the amount of press attention Instagram is getting, combined with attention grabbing headlines about how VIDEO IS THE NEW SOCIAL, make it sound as if YouTube doesn't exist. Either that, or people are not counting it as a social platform. And let's not forget about Snapchat, WhatsApp and the fact that almost every messenger service allows easy video transfer.
So which video platform should form part of your social media strategy?
Will the Novelty Wear Off?
One of the problems with Facebook hedging their bets on this form of content is that it's based on novelty, and I think that's why YouTube is so rarely mentioned in the same breath as Instagram or Vine.
Yes, YouTube is full of cats but there is some serious content on there including live TV feeds, exclusive entertainment content from the music, film and TV industries.
Vine's popularity was based solely on iOS downloads, but by the time they finally got round to releasing an Android version there were already countless copycat apps in the Play store. However, Twitter clearly thinks there is still life in Vine because they've just sent their entire user base an email announcing a 'new app for creating short, looping videos'. This email shows that Twitter think a large number of people still haven't heard of Vine, but they sent it on Friday - over a week after Instagram launched video with a lot of press attention.
News that Vine shares fell by half a million the day after Instagram added video shows that users see this as a one or the other platform. Nobody needs two ways to create short looping videos, and it's likely they will choose the one with the most features - Instagram.
But does anybody really need to share short looping videos? Are the finished clips even worth sharing?
Jenna Wortham doesn't think so, calling Instagram video 'the death of fantasy'. Wortham argues that Instagram photos allow you to portray a perfect version of your life - captured, filtered, framed and shared with the world. Her first attempt at video resulted in 'a grainy video of dresses and hair, whipped around by the wind, music thumping from a party next door and snippets of a conversation about birth control.' Sounds like it captures the moment, but not in the way those present would want.
Funnily enough, Instagram's own promotional video includes a backing track, muted sounds and looks like it was shot through a DSLR. It aims to mimic what users can create using the app but presents a wildly unrealistic video that your average user could never recreate.
One to One vs. One to Many
Contrast this to other popular video sharing apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp which have cornered the teen market. Unlike Instagram and Vine they are not networks, they are private conversations. Friends are happy to send each other unedited videos without fear of how the world will see them.
Snapchat is the king of one-to-one video sharing - mostly due to the short life of its videos which delete themselves after a specified time (up to 10 seconds). YouTube is the king of one-to-many video sharing - the numbers above speak for themselves.
Instagram and Vine sit somewhere in between private and public, but are positioned as 'social networks' and, like Facebook & Twitter, require public sharing to make money. Closed networks are very hard to monetise, but are Instagrammers - used to crafting the perfect snap - willing to share videos that don't always show them at their best?
Also, how much will Instagram's Terms of Service affect the decision of what to share? They're already pushing the media to start using user-shared Instagram videos via their advice for news publishers.
It's Your Move, YouTube
While YouTube is clearly the market leader for video online, they're now behind Instagram when it comes to entry level tools. In the past year, however, YouTube has done a lot for the average user:
- Easier uploading, especially for users with low bandwidth
- Post-upload editing tools to reduce camera shake and improve lighting/ colours
- Capture - a mobile app for recording and uploading straight to YouTube from your mobile
It wouldn't be a stretch for YouTube to add Instagram's filters and a loop function; Google has never been shy about copying Facebook and Twitter. Take a look at Vine's instructions below. Take out point 2 and you are describing the actions for YouTube's Capture app.
If I were YouTube, I'd be going out of my way right now to tell everyone how easy it is for anybody to upload videos from iOS and Android.
Best Video Tool for Marketing
When deciding which video platform is right for your business it's no different to any other marketing decision - find out where your customers are.
According to Mashable, 14 of Interbrand's top 100 global brands have posted Instagram videos, compared to 7 on Vine.
Guess what: 100 out of 100 have a YouTube channel.
If you're looking to invest in video, we recommend focusing on YouTube. It might not get the media attention of the newcomers but that's mostly because it is so ingrained as the online video platform. YouTube videos also appear in search results so can be great for your SEO campaigns whereas Facebook and Twitter posts are not crawled by Google.
Having said that, if you're active on Twitter (which you should be) then Vine is a great way to vary your content - see our Vine marketing tips here. Similarly, if Instagram is a strong part of your social presence then why not try out the new video feature?
Backblog comments powered by Disqus