Instagram Video Casts a Wide Net, Promises Engaged Viewers to Marketers

Instagram Video Casts a Wide Net, Promises Engaged Viewers to Marketers

July 15, 2013

Instagram recently announced that it has added video to the photo sharing app. In a press conference on the new video feature, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom kept mum on what the new video capabilities mean for advertisers, but it didn’t take long for many to speculate. There’s strong suspicion that Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, will monetize Instagram video in the near future. Regardless of whether that comes to fruition, Instagram’s video capabilities are exciting! Realizing Instagram’s power from sharing solely images, many brands have embraced the addition of video and already put forth content. Already, twice as many top brands use Instagram video than Vine (Twitter’s 7 second video app), including Ford, MTV, Gap, and Nike.

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How Instagram Video is Stronger Than the Vine App
In response to Instagram’s announcement, users began declaring that Instagram video meant the end of Vine’s brief tenure as the most popular video-clip sharing app. The phrase “RIP Vine” was thrown around often, and for good reason: Instagram video has many features that make it a stronger app than Vine. Firstly, Instagram video allows for 15 seconds vs Vine’s 7 seconds maximum, which Systrom promises to be “the right balance between not too short and not too long.” Though still presenting a challenge, 15 seconds can be enough to create teaser-like videos, such as Burberry’s video featuring sneak peeks at its 2014 Spring/Summer menswear fashion collection.

Instagram video is further superior because it can be edited. The camera function allows for focusing, currently unavailable on Vine. By simply tapping the phone screen in the direction of the desired area, individuals focus the camera in that location. Also, in true Instagram fashion, filters can be added to videos, giving a chance to correct lighting issues or give the video more style and ambiance. Additionally, users can choose the cover image to represent their video, rather than letting an arbitrary frame discourage clicks. Lastly, Instagram video provides the image stabilization feature “Cinema,” which makes every video taken on a mobile device look great without the distraction of shaking.

Instagram already has a huge following, whereas Vine — despite gaining an admirable amount of popularity since it debuted this January — is still trying to catch up. Since Systrom’s announcement, Instagram’s 130 million users per month have Instagram video at their fingertips. With Instagram video there’s no need for companies to build up communities from scratch, and, instead, they can simply focus on creating quality content.

The Features That Help AdvertisersThe simplicity of the app and the short 15 seconds of each video give a casual feeling that could be used in posts, such as this video from Cisco Systems. The brief nature of the videos can also work well for time-sensitive messages, such as a flash sale for a retail company, wherein fun images of the products are quickly displayed with only the necessary information such as the discount code and the sale’s expiration date. Additionally, a lot of companies already have short, web-exclusive videos that often appear as pre-roll ads before a page loads. It would be simple for advertisers to create shorter versions of existing pre-roll video ads for their Instagram accounts.

By being easy to shoot and edit, Instagram videos are a lot more accessible to most companies than TV, currently one of the most effective mediums for advertising. Smaller businesses with lower budgets can now use video to advertise or engage their target audience. But since this is advertising within personal mobile devices, it could feel intrusive and over-the-top to some users. Sponsored posts and pre-roll videos should be used with moderation in order to not disturb or drive followers — potential or current customers — away from engaging with a company.

Advertisers must tread lightly when using Instagram video as part of their strategy. Only time will tell whether Facebook will monetize it or what other changes are coming soon, but Instagram video has plenty of good to work with, as it is.