What does Instagram Video mean for marketers?

By Chris Lee

Facebook-owned photo site Instagram has launched a 15-second video upload capability, very much seen as a response to Twitter’s shorter Vine video loop. Five million uploads were recorded in the first 24 hours of the service, peaking at 40 hours of footage being uploaded each minute.

How can marketers make the most of this new content option? NMK spoke to some leading marketers to learn their top tips.

Straight off the Vine

For Neil Major, strategy director at social media agency Yomego, short self-contained videos are becoming a format in themselves. However, Major feels Instagram Video feels a little like a “me too” product and the acid test will be the creative uses of it, more than the technology.

“It’s impossible not to look at this launch in the light of how Vine has developed,” Major told NMK. “When Vine first launched, it was full of videos of mundane, everyday things – it took time for people to understand its creative restrictions and applications. It’s now taking off – but only among a smaller section of society. So Instagram Video may have a wider appeal to the general public. It’s less restrictive and Instagram has a bigger user base already in place than Vine. The longer format and lack of looping also makes it a simpler format to understand.”

Jamie Riddell, director of social at agency Jaywing, added that Instagram Video is, in his view, much more exciting than Vine as it will provide more opportunity and has an established audience.

“Instagram video is an exciting platform and offers enormous opportunities for marketers. It has the potential to do very well for a number of reasons. The video is longer, Instagram has an established audience and is already part of people’s social feeds,” he said. “Furthermore both Vine and YouTube require the user to leave Facebook while Instagram is already a part of many people’s feeds. Instagram Video can be expected to win the short-term numbers battle at least in rising number as there is no need to download a new app.”

Proceed with caution

Sarah Todd, CEO of consultancy Geometry Global UK, believes digital marketers should use Instagram Video with caution.

“There are now a multitude of different platforms through which to communicate, but to achieve marketing success the platform needs to be right for each individual audience,” she said. “For example, you may not browse YouTube on your phone leisurely in the way you would Twitter or Instagram – rather you’d likely get to YouTube via a direct link to a specific video. There is little opportunity for users to discover video content of their own accord. But by placing video content in Instagram, users directly follow brands and have a much closer relationship, and hence may be more open to engaging with video.”

Todd believes this means although there will probably be integration across different video platforms, this will need to be tailored according to each audience it speaks to and account for different viewing habits.

Branching beyond consumers

For James Hakesley, chief operating officer of video content platform Nideo, another key challenge is how brands can make short-form video work not just for consumers, but also business audiences.

“The real question for brands is whether this is really worth a serious investment in time, manpower and money. Those brands that have established a Vine strategy will have the easiest time with Instagram Video, but as it stands, Twitter’s latest video offering is still a new concept for companies,” he said. “The key factor here is that the companies that currently use Instagram or Vine are very large B2C [business-to-consumer] companies. If Instagram’s new platform is going to succeed, it’s going to need to figure out what it can offer to the B2B [business-to-business] and small and medium-sized enterprise sectors.”

Hakesley believes the danger for serious businesses is that, as with most social networks and video platforms, videos are thrown into a sea of personal content from users posting about their ice creams or how sunny the day is.

“Businesses need to decide whether they really think that’s an important or even appropriate environment for them to appear in,” he concluded.

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