The marketing and tech press was understandably intrigued when an actual hard copy product launch invite from Facebook, complete with coffee ring, landed on their desks. What could this mean, the industry pondered, analysing the death of Google reader and even the fact that this memo had arrived via snail mail for vital clues.
Of course, the suspense is over and we all now know that Facebook has unveiled a video function for its image sharing app, Instagram.
Coming swiftly in the wake of the launch of Facebook hashtags, the latest offering continues the trend of Facebook rivalling Twitter functionality. And the public hungrily took to the bait, posting more than 5 million videos to Instagram in the first day after its new capability launched.
According to a report in the Guardian, more than 40 hours of video footage was being uploaded each minute when Instagram video fever peaked last Thursday night, with teenybop Justin Bieber becoming the first user to scoop 1 million likes for a single Instagram clip.
But Bieber fever aside, the issue on brands’ and agencies’ minds is the potential of this new feature for advertising purposes.
The Vine is right?
A natural, immediate reaction to Instagram video is to draw comparisons with Twitter’s Vine app – which enables users to upload 6 seconds of looping footage. Many, including us on this very blog, have been drawn to Vine’s brevity and ability to drive the message home with its somewhat hypnotic repeating format.
Instagram, in response, has made the potentially smart move of offering 15-second clip capabilities. It is no coincidence that the 15-second spot is already a favoured ad format on television, so advertisers and their agencies are already well-versed at creating ads to this length. Plus, the greater control offered to Instagram users enables them to delete cuts and select preferred thumbnails – all neat tricks for creating aesthetically pleasing content.
Some critics have waded in arguing that the familiarity of the Instagram medium will ultimately be its downfall for ad creatives, who will be tempted to simply translate TV ads on to the new channel with little flair. One thing about Vine, its 6-second format pushed the creative boundaries; when executed well its seemingly frustrating constraints can in fact pave the way for creative genius.
No room for short cuts
Some will argue, then, that Instagram’s reflection of TV ad lengths will tempt time-strapped, budget-deprived or, dare we say, lazy creatives into transporting TV ads directly onto the new channel. But before we hear agencies breathe a collective sigh of relief (‘what else could we do? It fits the 15-second spot so beautifully!’) , they need to know that you cannot currently import video into Instagram. That’s right, all video must be shot using the app – which is not only great news for Instagram’s devoted user base, it also invites brands to harness their capabilities to create new, compelling material.
A numbers game
Keeping up with social media marketing trends is much down to being where the people are; reach is everything. And what makes Instagram arguably a more enticing and valuable offer for advertisers is that it has a bigger user base than Vine (which had 13 million iPhone users in early June, plus somewhere between 1-5 million installs since on Android, according to Google Play store stats).
At just three years old, Instagram has 100 million monthly active users and they are an engaged bunch – posting 40 million photos per day and interacting with 8,500 likes per second and 1,000 comments per second (according to Instagram figures, April 2013).
FPR’s Final Thought
With its distinctively cool retro aesthetic and thriving community, it looks like Instagram video will only add to the app’s current popularity and offer a complementary addition to Vine for short-form video marketing. Our advice – if you haven’t started experimenting with filters for your business yet, don’t leave it much longer.