Catching Up With Instagram Video

A little over two months ago, Instagram came out with “The Announcement” and introduced video to its photo sharing service. The announcement and subsequent rollout of the upgrade seemed to create a buzz and hysteria analogous to when American troops took out Osama bin Laden. However, although a very important moment in social media indeed, I tried to keep a cooler head. Before proclaiming Insta-Video the savior of the social world, I wanted to wait several weeks and see how people used it and the influence it had. I have a couple observations to make.

Personally, I think video on Instagram has underachieved. Bottom line, I don’t think people are using it that much and I definitely don’t think people are watching it that much.

I don’t think people are using Instagram video that much because it isn’t the easiest platform to use and it can be time consuming. Half the time I attempt to use Insta-Video I get an error message popping up saying I don’t have enough memory to record. The times when I am actually able to roll tape I find my thumb missing the red record button or I believe I am recording something when I am really not. The way the video screen charts how much time left you have to record is not visually appealing and seems a bit primitive. Also, it seems like a lot of effort has to go in to making a decent Instagram video. Now of course to be successful in social media you have to put effort in to all of your content but I think Instagram Video adds a little more labor than necessary. I know you don’t have to use all 15 seconds but when you have a certain amount of time available to you, the tendency is to use it.

While I can’t be 100% certain, I would bet my yearly salary that Insta-Videos receive much less attention, views, and likes than regular pictures. For many people, once they see the video icon in the top right hand corner of the image they scroll right by it. People don’t want to spend 15 seconds watching something. They just don’t have the time. Users want to look at a picture and get all their information right then. They don’t want to wait for the delay of the video to start, they don’t want to be startled by the loud volume of the audio once it finally does, and they don’t want to watch a shaky 15 second video with nine different takes. It doesn’t take a genius to spot the obvious. From looking at the videos that I post and that others post, I would say that videos only receive a third of the likes that a traditional picture does. Maybe it will take some time for video to really catch on but by no means has it transformed Instagram overnight.

I will give Instagram Video credit on a couple fronts. With the ability to film for 15 seconds, you can connect to your followers in a more intimate and expressive way. You can relate your opinions, thoughts, and moods by taking a quick video. I don’t think many people are utilizing it in this way just yet but I think that users who want to have a true impact with Insta-Video should do so. You can really create an interesting little vlog with Instagram now. If you can express yourself in an honest and unique way you could really pull in an audience.

Another way that Instagram has succeeded with its video rollout is that it has crippled Vine. No, it hasn’t completely destroyed it but it has dealt it a big blow. My friend activity on Vine has died down probably 75%. Of the 25% of the activity still taking place, more than half of it is through re-vines…lame. Instagram definitely wanted to accomplish two things: Create a top of the line video experience while knocking Vine off of its rapidly rising social media pedestal. To this point, it has only succeeded with one of those objectives.

I am going to continue to keep tracking the strides that Instagram Video will or will not make in the next couple months. Like I said, it might just take a little time for it to catch on. However, at this point, I have to say that Instagram Video has been a disappointment. Don’t Blink.

A Big Day in Social Media: Insta-Video

Okay, okay, okay….the joke is definitely on me. Last night I pretty much got down on my knees and waved my arms up and down in a “We’re not worthy” motion and glorified Vine as the solution to coming up with unique content across all social media channels. If that display of admiration didn’t sell how all-in I was with Vine there was that other post I wrote a little over a month ago christening Vine as the future of social media.

Today, just about 12 hours after writing my last post, Instagram made an announcement. No, not just some minor release about privacy settings or the addition of a new picture filter but rather they made “The Announcement”. In a move that made the social media world go berserk, Instagram informed the public that the service was now video capable. Introducing 15 second videos with 13 different filters, Instagram pretty much crushed the current version of Vine in multiple ways. Basically, Instagram came through with a big time walk off homerun at Vine’s expense.

A few things…

1. Instagram is now more powerful than ever before. The service skyrocketed to stardom about a year and a half ago and stayed on top for about 12 months. Once Vine went mainstream and other social services started to emerge, Instagram lost a little bit of its luster. Not anymore. Instagram has reclaimed its supremacy as the #1 social media app. It now challenges Facebook for the most powerful social media service period.

2. Competition is wonderful in any industry and the same goes for social media. When apps and services continue to push out top notch and improved products in response to a competitor’s latest version, we as consumers win. This is a great day in social media even if it makes me look like a total moron.

3. Don’t count Vine out yet. Although it appears that Instagram could have delivered that knockout blow, let everything settle for a month. Let’s see how well Instagram’s video feature functions. Can it keep up? Will videos load quickly? Will it do anything to mess up the main photo feed? Also, let’s be fair to Vine and give them a chance to respond. What will they come out with to combat this significant move by Instagram? Will they do anything to try to keep the Vine loyalists sticking around? This will be interesting to observe and we do need to let it play out a little bit before we erect a Vine gravestone right next to the Myspace one.

4. Don’t get me started on the people who are resisting this move by Instagram. Can you believe that some folks are upset that IG would introduce video? There are Instagram purists out there who believe the service should for the next 100 years be devoted strictly to still photos. They are the same people who whine about every update Facebook makes and still detest the Timeline. Come on, social media sites evolve over time, change is a constant in this industry.

5. Finally, my point from last night still stands (about the functionality of Vine, not necessarily its supremacy). You can use many images from a Vine video to create unique content across all of your other social channels. The one advantage that Vine has over Instagram video: When you pause an IG video, the annoying pause icon comes up in the right hand corner. This of course makes cropping it out impossible if you want to save the integrity of the whole picture. Vine still allows its videos to be converted into flawless images without the necessity of cropping out an annoying icon. At least I saved a little face.

Historic day in social media! Let’s keep with the competing and evolving of social networks, it is just too fun…even if it makes me look like an idiot. Don’t Blink.