Battle of the Social Video Platforms: Do You Instagram or Vine?

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Tim McMullen
Tim McMullen



battle-of-video-socialWhenever two entities exist in the same space, a line is drawn in the sand.

Coke or Pepsi? Batman or Superman? iPhone or Android?

It seems only natural that when Instagram entered the video platform space previously occupied entirely by Vine that we would all be forced to take sides. The video platform landscape quickly did just that, and most marketers now have a definitive answer to the question: Team Vine or Team Instagram?

The good news is that no one actually has to choose: Vine and Instagram are two distinct platforms.

Yes, they are both social and mobile, and they both leverage video, but that is where the similarities end. The two platforms vary greatly when you take a closer look at the creation, consumption, and audiences of the two platforms.

Before you can choose the best social video tool for your company, you need to understand the differences. Let's review the basics:


The details:

  • 15-second video
  • Multiple filters and image-stabilization tool
  • Allows for video editing, reshooting, and editing frames
  • Facebook owns and cross-promotes into News Feeds
  • Not shared on Twitter


The details:

  • 6-second video
  • Does not allow video editing
  • Videos loop
  • Users have the ability to revine (think retweet)
  • Twitter owns and cross-promotes seamlessly to Twitter and Facebook

Use Instagram if:

Your fan base exists primarily on Facebook.

Facebook owns Instagram and easy integration allows for cross-promoting these different platforms. If your Facebook following is already actively engaged, or if you would like them to be, using Instagram video is a great way to build that community.

You’re artistic to the max.

With the company mission “to capture and share the world’s moments,” Instagram provides users with filters, has Cinema (an image-stabilization tool that smooths out shaky videos), and comes with other features that allow the user to create videos that have a more professional style than Vine. This gives content producers the ability to easily create emotional experiences within the instant-video medium.

Who should be your Insta-inspiration?

A recent study from Unruly Media showed that 40% of the most-shared Instagram videos came from brands. Who is using Instagram right? Get inspired by these rockstars.


Target used Instagram to promote its 2013 holiday gift guide. With a well-stylized video, a dude-centric theme, and a few products, Target created a fun video that that feels helpful instead of promotional. A cute puppy never hurts either.


With this high-quality clip shot right from a phone, Burberry showed the world that a great message could be shared without buying expensive TV spots. Burberry proves with this mini-commercial that video creation is an artform and should sometimes be left to the professionals. What’s even better? This video conveys the heart of Burberry — beautiful London, sophistication, and class — all without showing a single product.

Focus on Vine if:

Your Twitter fandom is strong:

Twitter owns Vine, so you will be able to integrate hashtags and cross-promote between the two sites. Brands with strong Twitter communities should look into creating content for Vine as it will present opportunities to further engage your established following

You are a master of stop motion:

Vine’s short timeframe and shooting process allows users to create unique stop-motion videos. Smart brands are using this capability to deliver their messages in creative ways. Companies using stop motion well, are able to share large amounts of brand information within Vine’s 6-second timeframe.

You like to loop:

By taking advantage of Vine’s loop, content marketers are able to produce videos that are essentially 6-second GIFs with sound. Who doesn’t love a good GIF? Loops can be used in creative ways and are often perfect for funny visuals or product demonstrations.

Which brands are Vine-stars?

The previously mentioned research from Unruly also found that the average viewer spends 18 seconds watching Vine videos, meaning they let each loop play through three times to ensure they fully pick up on all of the subtleties portrayed in it. It is very rare that brands will hold the consumer’s attention span that long, so they need to capitalize on this opportunity. Need some inspiration?


With only 6 seconds, brands must work to make something creative and memorable, yet simple. This requires talent and time, but doesn't always require a huge budget. Samsung’s introduction of the S Beam shows that you can portray your message creatively without breaking the bank.

General Electric

As a company, General Electric aligns itself with science. It decided to showcase nature’s consistent loop, which was a natural fit for Vine.

The Final Decision

Twitter or Facebook?

Where is your audience currently the most active? Go where your fans are. Their choice of platform should shape how you go about marketing. Remember: Twitter owns Vine, and Facebook owns Instagram. Take advantage of integration with whichever platform your audience uses regularly.

Wacky or Cinematic?

Vine’s 6-second time limit opens the door for some pretty quirky content. But you have to plan strategically to execute these well. Not everyone can make interesting videos on Vine — simply because of the time limit. Instagram’s filters and editing tools allow for more artistic videos aimed at telling a story or conveying an emotion.

What will help you win on both Instagram and Vine? Creativity and simplicity.

With only seconds to convey your message, you’ve got to make each count.

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