July 2, 2013 E3

Shortform Video Marketing: Instagram Vs. Vine

Instagram sent the social media world abuzz when it launched video sharing in late June. Positioned as a rival to Twitter’s Vine service, Instagram gave every user instant access to create and share 15 second videos.  It didn’t take long for users to declare Vine to be dead in the water. Everyone from 12 year old girls to Gap, Inc. spend a great deal of time on Instagram so this news was great for social media narcissists and video marketing experts, alike.

So where should brands be spending their time? On Instagram, with their 100 million active users, or, on Vine, with its ultra short form video and eternal looping feature? The answer isn’t quite as black and white as many people may think.

Do Nine Seconds Matter in Video Marketing?

Vine videos last six seconds. Instagram trumped them by offering 15 second video. It’s not impossible to engage and connect in six seconds, but it is a challenge. That extra nine seconds may not seem like a lot, but it is a critical – and familiar – length of time for experienced advertisers.

Anyone who participates in radio or television advertising is familiar with 15 second spots. In the heyday of radio and TV, 60 second commercials were the norm. Then, stations began offering 30 second slots for the budget-conscious advertiser. This also allowed stations to cram more advertising into commercial breaks. Stations could make more money by offering shorter commercials and the advertisers saved money. It was a win-win for everyone. Now, many offer 15 second slots. So anyone with a large advertising budget is familiar with using shortform ads to capture attention. This translates seamlessly into Instagram’s format, leading many analysts to believe that 15 second video was not a random choice.

15 seconds also leaves little time for viewers to decide they will leave the video. It’s a short commitment for the consumer and it’s just enough time for brands to get their messages across. Vine’s six second videos are even easier for consumers to digest, but it’s harder to create a memorable video in just six seconds. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Brands that are used to more traditional advertising messages will be far less comfortable with shorter video. But Vine creates a unique opportunity for creative marketers to stand out from the crowd in new and innovative ways.

Built in Audience Vs. Building from Scratch

The real struggle that Vine has had getting off the ground lies in the fact that they are still building an audience. Instagram has been around long enough that brands have strong followings on the platform and they won’t have to heavily cross-promote their Instagram content in order to engage users.

With Vine, brands have to take an extra effort to promote their video marketing across other social media sites in order to motivate people to watch. If you have 3,000 followers on Instagram and only 300 on Vine, Instagram would probably be the best use of your time and resources.

When you have a built-in following, engagement is a little easier as well. Brands can take advantage of these new platforms in many ways. They can create content themselves, or they can have users create content for the brand in the form of contests. This type of (free) interaction is priceless to brands. And time is best spent on this type of contest in the platform with the most followers. A Vine contest most likely wouldn’t gain the traction that an Instagram contest would capture.

But once again, this is an area where creative marketers can make the choice for themselves. You can push your Vine videos out and promote them on both Twitter and Facebook. If you create enough buzz, you can capitalize on that audience to drive users into Vine.

Not only that, but there is something to be said for being a big fish in a small pond. If you have managed to cultivate a loyal Vine following, your videos will have a greater impact on those users than an Instagram video would.

Savvy Marketers Can Work Vine

Almost every social media analyst has declared Vine to be dead. But that’s not necessarily true. There are many positives to Vine that can work to your advantage. Vine videos run on an endless loop. Instagram doesn’t loop, so if you can work looping to your advantage, Vine is the clear winner. Also, some people find 15 seconds to be too long. For many video marketers, brevity is the soul of communication and Vine videos are certainly brief.

In fact, one of the most famous online video marketers in the world, Gary Vaynerchuck has created an agency that produces video just for Vine.  His mission is to prove that ultra short form video can work, and work well. And his first client is Virgin Mobile – a strong brand with a loyal following.

It will be interesting to see how the Vine/Instagram rivalry pans out. Will Vine be the MySpace of social video? Will savvy marketers force Instagram to adopt some of Vine’s positive features? Will Vine allow longer videos? This story is far from over.

Who do you think will come out on top?

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