Social Media

Hey Instagram, I Like the Way You Move

June 20, 2013

When it comes to content, the real-time nature of social media has led us to embrace a ‘shorter-is-better’ philosophy. GIFs are the new ‘clips,’ 140-character messages are the norm for social status updates and – thanks to services like Instagram – beautiful images can be shared within seconds of capture.

In vein with this trend, Twitter’s short-form video companion app, Vine, has amassed more than 13 million users in just five months of existence. Vine quickly emerged as a leader in the short-form video game, but now Facebook is striking back with a game-changing update to the Instagram platform.

Today, Facebook introduced short form video to Instagram. During a Facebook press conference, Instagram Founder Kevin Systrom previewed the update and explained why video on Instagram has been a long time coming. Citing “speed, simplicity and beauty” as the keys to his platform’s success, Systrom explained that video was originally part of the launch plan for Instagram, but it was placed on hold in an effort to make the first version of the app as easy to use as possible.

Though Vine’s focus is on short-form video, it has already been dubbed a direct competitor to Instagram given its affiliation to Twitter, counter to Instagram’s affiliation with Facebook. With Instagram’s new video functionality, the rivalry has reached a fever pitch. As of right now, 130 million people on both Android & iOS have access to Instagram’s video feature – that’s ten times the number of people currently using Vine.

What Instagram Video Has to Offer

Instagram is giving its users a bit more room to play than Vine, offering the ability to create 15-seconds of video, versus the six seconds allotted by Vine. In addition, Instagram is carrying its popular filters over to video as well, and will offer thirteen brand new filters created expressly for video content.

Introducing Video on Instagram from Instagram on Vimeo.
Instagram is also empowering users with more control over editing, allowing people to delete frames within the app and ‘stabilize’ videos to make them appear less shaky (a smart add for on-the-go recording). Contrary to Vine, the videos will not loop, but instead play directly in-stream on the feed.

Worth noting is that days before the Facebook announcement, Vine preempted the expected Instagram update by teasing that it, too, would be introducing a slew of new features and updates in the coming weeks. (We’ll be covering the news on the blog as we learn more.)

Implications for Marketers

Just as Twitter has been making additions to its own arsenal, Facebook has been making moves on the mobile front as well. Last week, Facebook released hashtags on the platform, and just yesterday released the ability for users to comment with photos in-stream. Now, we can add short-form video to the growing list of mobile adds on the part of Facebook.

While there are no specific features available to brands as yet, there are some immediate considerations to keep in mind:

For brands already established on Instagram, it’s time to consider capturing content in video form. Much like Vine has become an extension on Twitter, Instagram will be a new means of sharing videos within the Facebook environment in particular. Brands are advised to maintain a balance of both still images and videos, as photos will likely continue to be a huge part of Instagram, but videos will be useful when capturing longer-form story moments.

While this update should not be an absolute deterrence from using Vine, marketers will want to decide what the best course of action is given their audience and communities. Instagram does not display or play directly in-stream on Twitter the way that Vine does, but for brands looking to grow a presence within Instagram and leverage new filters and editing functionality, this update will be key.

Animation and stop-motion videos, for example, have become staple formats within Vine (featured as examples in Vine’s update tease). And in the same way that in-the-moment photos resonate with the Instagram community – real-time video content of live experiences may continue to be better suited for the Instagram environment.

The update also means that video will become an even more important player of the Facebook content game. As ReadWriteWeb notes, Instagram video could begin acclimating users to seeing more video on the platform – and perhaps opening the door for sponsored video posts in the future.


As short-form video continues to play a growing part in how brands connect with consumers, storytelling will continue to be a theme at the core of the conversation. Instagram’s video feature is just one more resource brands can tap into to connect with consumers via timely, compelling and relevant content.