It’s a Free Video-for-All out There
Right now, the mobile video app landscape is just about as diverse as you’ll find. It almost makes me feel as though I’m lost in the Nether of “Minecraft.” Options include Tout, Viddy, Keek, iRant, Socialcam, Vine and the (relatively) recent release of Instagram’s video capability.
While each seems to serve its relative niche (Tout as a backpack journalism tool or iRant as a discussion board), my focus here will primarily be on Vine with its approximate 13 million users (330,000 active monthly) and Instagram with 130 million users (100 million monthly), as these obviously have the underlying battle of Twitter versus Facebook attached to their success.
Going Out on a Vine
By now, we’ve all read the articles claiming Vine is dying/dead. Let’s just take a small step back and put some things in context here. The Internet, by and large, seems to be basing this rationale on a widely circulated Topsy comparison chart showing that Vine shares on Twitter have decreased exponentially since June 20 — the date Instagram released its video capability.
It looks bad, I’ll give you that. But I dug a little deeper for you, and I’d like to frame a few things:
- The chart only shows one month of data. You don’t have to be a statistician to know small sample sizes are never indicative of long-term success.
- Prior to June, Vine usage was actually holding steady, and it seems to have rebounded after the first week of Instagram’s video debut (see June 22 to July 13 social).
- The spikes in usage were artificially created, making the “drop-off” seem much worse than it was. What caused the artificial increases in usage?
- June 3: Vine was released for Android. New users flocked to try the app. Some continue to use it and others do not — hence the return around June 9.
- June 10 to 14: National coverage that Vine shares surpassed Instagram on sites ranging from ABC News to IPG Media. This coverage would expand app awareness and create a burst of new downloads and shares.
- June 17: Rumors about Instagram introducing video are published in numerous places. Vine is included in the report, causing an increase in shares.
- Instagram shares show no real change post-video launch.
- This is only for “shares” on Twitter, which is not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.
Different at the Core
So where are we now? Well, nothing has really been proven or disproved by those insights; we’ve merely gained a bit more of an understanding as to why there was such a dramatic spike in shares and then a relatively drastic decline (to previous levels). But what do we know?
- Vine has embed ability into users’ Twitter feeds.
- Twitter has emerged as a news, education and information-sharing tool.
- Instagram is more mature and had a community before Facebook bought it.
- Both Instagram and Facebook have emerged as sharing platforms for personal life moments.
The long-term viability of either service depends upon its ability to continue (or start to) appeal to its core group of users. With mobile video predicted to represent 66 percent of global mobile data traffic by 2017, there is clearly room for both to coexist. It is my belief that Vine, being so young, has yet to find its core use/audience. Being “powered” by Twitter should lead the way for it to be successfully leveraged for raw and unfiltered real-time news and information sharing. Because Vine has the ability to seamlessly embed into the user’s Twitter feed, this is a great opportunity for Twitter to truly step up the experience.
Instagram, on the other hand, has flourished in many of the same ways that Facebook has. Core users love the filtering, sharing and personalization options. There is a great deal of room for open creativity and expression. However, the use cases within this platform cater to lifestyle, not news.
Future Use as Engagement Platforms
For brands and marketers, the future focus shall be on monetization. A few trailblazing brands have emerged as they adopted the video snippet as a marketing tool. Toyota’s stop-motion video as well as other brands like Malibu Rum, Dove, Wheat Thins and seven of the top 100 Interbrand global brands (such as Oreo, Urban Outfitters, Internet Explorer, Lowe’s and General Electric) have appeared on Vine.
— Toyota España (@Toyota_Esp) January 28, 2013
Likewise, Maybelline, Burberry, Lululemon, charity: water and 14 of the top 100 Interbrand global brands (such as Ford, MTV and Disney) have already leveraged Instagram video. Other brands like WWE and ESPN are finding niche video players like Tout useful for engagement.
I’m a little surprised Facebook hasn’t implemented a direct embed of videos into the Facebook News Feed — similar to the Vine card in Twitter (though it was just announced on Wednesday that bloggers and publication sites can embed video into their pages). It would seem as though full Facebook integration would be a natural fit and truly elevate the Facebook community experience across desktop, tablet and mobile experiences.
The idea of creating 15-second content-based advertisements that blend into the feed and providing shareable value seems to make just too much sense. This addition to the possibilities of branded or even non-branded content is a great tool for a community managers’ tactical toolkit, and it is just another way to increase page engagement to combat EdgeRank all the relevant content you see in your feed.
For Vine to have long-term value for marketers, we’ll need to let the core community develop before we can make a true assessment. I think Vine will find its core where Twitter has found its core: in news and real-time information sharing and education. How will brands capitalize here? By being involved in the conversation, adding value to people’s lives and empowering them with news and knowledge.
I see a movement occurring where people go to Facebook and Instagram to get lost, find friends, share cat memes and post videos of their food with pristine filtered effects. On the other side, I see Twitter as no frills, news and purposeful conversations. In 140 characters or six seconds, say what you need to and move on. We’re all busy.