June 21, 2013

Ok, so you've probably heard that Instagram has added videos to its platform. You've probably heard about a bunch of new features. And you're probably thinking, oh wow, another post about it. But here's the thing, this isn't just about the new toy. I want to talk to you about why this new tool is so important to businesses. And more importantly, how you can take advantage of it!

So, let's cut to the chase. Instagram presented some not-so shocking news that they have added video functionality to their photo-sharing app. Many people were expecting this and with the introduction of Vine (for Twitter) recently, it seemed inevitable that Facebook (or Instagram, owned by Facebook) would be right behind with an alternative. The question was how was it going to differ from Vine and how was it going to be better, if they could even pull that off.

Well, I think it's way better than Vine (sorry, Vine lovers) and I think it's going to dominate the social media sphere for this type of video format. Here's why:

1. You Already Have It

Well, in theory, you already have it. If you already have the Instagram app, and 130 million people already do, and your app is updated, you have video functionality. It's really that simple. (Note that as of the time I'm writing this, I still don't have video capability on my app. Don't get me started on how frustrated I am!)

The downside to Vine was that you had to download a new app and learn something new. Is this complicated? No, not really, but people are simple, lazy, and don't like change. Instagram has capitalized on that. Pretty much the entire process of editing and uploading a video is identical to the process for photos. So users are already comfortable and familiar with the process.

2. Your Audience Already Has It

Barring any technical issues as I mentioned above, your audience already has the video functionality. They are already recording and watching videos. If they're already connecting with you via Instagram, you can reach out to them SO much more through videos! You don't need to track them down on a new platform, and they don't need to track you down. You just get to take advantage of the amazing new tool that has virtually fallen into your lap!

3. You Have 15 Seconds To Be Awesome

Compared with Vine's 6 seconds, Instagram is offering you 15 whole seconds of video time. You'd be surprised how much you can pack into 15 seconds! And it's more than twice what you can do on Vine. You can create time-lapse style videos, splice different angles, or combine different intervals into one quick representation of you and your brand.

If you've read any of my posts about Instagram photos, you know how much I encourage people to take advantage of these photos to represent your brand. Now, if a photo says a thousand words, then a 15 second video tells a novel about you. Take advantage of this opportunity to showcase whole new levels of your products, services, and other facets of your company.

4. Videos Play Automatically

One of the best features that the new Instagram videos offer is that they play directly in your feed! Unlike on Twitter where you have to click to open media and then view the video, Instagram videos play automatically right there in your feed. You don't have to click anything, you don't have to leave the page, you don't have to do anything except watch. How cool is that? And if you think that's cool, just think about your customers watching your videos automatically. You don't have to encourage them to click on anything or motivate them with some captivating tag line to lure them to your video. Nope, you just post the video and let your audience watch it.

Think of how much more information you are putting in front of your audience's eyes with this new feature. And it's sooo easy. For all the times we complain about Facebook not favoring the marketers, I think they got it right with this feature (even if it wasn't designed this way with businesses in mind).

5. It Doesn't Loop Annoyingly

If you've ever watched the Vine videos that loop continuously, you know that these can be either entertaining or annoying. For those entertaining ones, it's great. But remember, they also only have 6 seconds of video. Looping becomes almost necessary to see all of the footage. With 15 seconds of video, this function isn't really needed. And on the flip side, the looping videos can be extremely annoying. I usually have to scroll far enough to get it out of my feed or close the video so it stops harassing my attention. With Instagram videos, this won't be necessary. But if you do want to watch the video again, a quick tap plays the video through.

Thinking of marketing with your videos, keep this factor in mind. Depending on your audience, think about where to put the most crucial sections of the video. Are they likely to see the first few seconds? Maybe not. So do a slow intro, and then bring in the key material at the 3-4 second mark. Are they likely to watch the whole 15 seconds of video? Maybe not. So make sure you put the punchy stuff at the 5-10 second range. Most of these things you'll learn through trial and error while you practice with this new feature.

6. Choose Your Video Cover Image

Since your video won't loop, make sure you choose a great cover image to represent your video. Don't automatically settle for the first frame as the cover photo. Think about the purpose of the video and what you're trying to convey. Choose a frame that is artistic, clearly defined, and represents the overall message of the video. This may be the first frame, but chances are it'll be somewhere in the middle, or even near the final sequence of the video.

7. Maintain Your Brand "Image" Through Videos

If you've been using Instagram photos to represent your brand, chances are you already have a "style" that your audience recognizes. Whether it's an ultra-modern touch or a more vintage look to your photos, you can now use 13 video filters to create similar stylistic touches to your videos. This allows you to keep the "look" of your photos and videos consistent. For the record, Vine doesn't offer anything like this right now.

8. Create Professional Quality Video with "Cinema"

We've all seen those crappy cell phone videos that are jumpy, wobbly and the results of shaky hands or natural human movement (especially if you're walking or running while filming). You, like most of us, probably don't particularly enjoy these videos. And they definitely don't portray a professional brand. So, instead, you probably spend a bunch of money of better camera equipment and all the tools to create professional quality videos. Well, if you did buy that stuff, then I hope you really enjoy it. Because the new Cinema feature on Instagram videos is going to make your cell phone (or mobile device) the single tool you need to create professional videos.

Obviously, this feature doesn't replace real videographic technology and cameras with professional stabilization features. But it gets pretty close. And for those small businesses with small budgets, this free app just made your life so much easier! So be adventurous! Go walk around your sales floor, take a tour through your receiving docks, film your team participating in your annual company olympics, scan the crowd of your next presentation, or whatever else you wouldn't normally do with video. If you would normally take a photo, now spice it up and make it a video.

You have the tools at your fingertips to make these videos professional, streamlined, concise, and consistent with your brand.  And all of this without the need for high priced equipment or photographers! (Sorry to those professional videographers out there). I wish you the best of luck in creating amazing new videos with this new tool.

As I said earlier, I think this new feature will change the way we interact with our customers and I think it will change the way video is incorporated into social media. I may be wrong, and feel free to call me out if you think I am. But I am super excited about this new feature!

If you're on Instagram, come join me! I'd love to see what you're doing with videos. And I'll be happy to share mine once I get the darn feature...

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Don’t start an article with ‘Ok’. Ever. It makes you come across as a high school girl that consistently uses the word ‘like’ inappropriately. (Preferably whilst rolling their eyes and chewing bubblegum.) And that’s, like, totally irritating.

    1. Ok, seriously? Did you like, find the article helpful and useful? Whatever.
      Jenn is conversational in her writing, and I find it refreshing rather than the many stuffed shirts who write “properly” yet have nothing to say.

  2. Don’t start an article with ‘Ok’. Ever. It makes you come across as a high school girl that consistently uses the word ‘like’ inappropriately. (Preferably whilst rolling their eyes and chewing bubblegum.) And that’s, like, totally irritating.

      1. Great article Jenn. I like your writing style. I guess you would talk in a similar manner – very refreshing 🙂

        1. Thanks Adam! Glad you liked it. And, yes I write much like I talk – what you see is what you get 🙂

    1. Ok, seriously? Did you like, find the article helpful and useful? Whatever.
      Jenn is conversational in her writing, and I find it refreshing rather than the many stuffed shirts who write “properly” yet have nothing to say.

  3. Jenn, I don’t have instagram (so of course I don’t have the video capability) but now I am definitely intrigued. This may be something I have to look into.

    Also wanted to let you know I loved your article. It really explained clearly what you think the pros are to video capability. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Kim! Instagram probably isn’t one of your top choices for social media in your line of business so I understand why you haven’t used it. That being said, it’s really fun just for personal use! 😉
      I’m glad that the article got you thinking about the platform differently. It’s definitely worth trying, and experimenting with it. And you never know, you might just find out that it works for your professional goals too.

        1. Hi Kim, I think there is a point here would like to address, I know I won’t be able to convey clearly in a short note but regardless of business type, even an investigative screening services operation, we can share a bit more personality. We are people doing business – bottom line is we are people.

  4. Jenn, I don’t have instagram (so of course I don’t have the video capability) but now I am definitely intrigued. This may be something I have to look into.

    Also wanted to let you know I loved your article. It really explained clearly what you think the pros are to video capability. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Kim! Instagram probably isn’t one of your top choices for social media in your line of business so I understand why you haven’t used it. That being said, it’s really fun just for personal use! 😉
      I’m glad that the article got you thinking about the platform differently. It’s definitely worth trying, and experimenting with it. And you never know, you might just find out that it works for your professional goals too.

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