Instagram Video versus Vine: How much difference can 9 seconds make?

Video on InstagramThis past Friday, Instagram rolled out their rumored video feature, in what seems a pretty clear swipe at Vine. For it’s video debut, Instagram has added a few features that Vine lacks – notably filters, image stabilization and a 15 second time limit – that should make internet marketers pleased as Christmas punch…in July. (Yeah, that didn’t work.)

Instagram’s video filters work in much the same way the photographic filters do, in that they alter the color tone of the image.  However, I found the video filters to be oddly…uninspiring; they don’t seem to offer the range of options or “impact” their photographic counterparts offer. Perhaps that’s the price for being able to apply and switch filters in real time, while watching the video. That’s nice. I suppose we can expect the filters to become more powerful with time.

The image stabilization feature, which Instagram calls “Cinema,” works very well at smoothing jerky motion. At first I was a little disappointed with it, but I think I was expecting too much: it will not make your handheld footage look like it was shot using a Steadicam, and shame on anyone who might have expected that. (Why is everyone lookin’ at me?)

The 9 Second Difference

However, probably the most important distinction with Instagram video is that it allows you to post videos that are up to 15 seconds long. Vine limits you to 6 seconds. How much difference can 9 seconds make? It will depend on who you ask, i.e., it depends on the marketing goal of the video.

For outreach, branding and awareness-building, six seconds is plenty of time in which to make an impression, to make someone smile or say “Huh!” Especially for someone browsing, tumblr-like, through the Vine app. I think 15 seconds could actually be too long for that particular purpose. But, for other purposes 15 seconds will seem like a luxury, and no doubt marketers will make great use of it.

Is Vine Doomed to Wither?

So, does this mean that Instagram is a Vine killer? I think not necessarily, for a few reasons, but mainly this: Vine’s integration with Twitter, and Twitter’s strategy of more closely aligning itself with television. Imagine Vine users quickly tweeting their 6 second reactions to the Red Wedding in “A Game of Thrones.” My knees get week at the thought.

Ultimately, whether internet marketers go with Vine or Instagram will boil down to choosing the right platform, to reach the right users, with the right message. But, isn’t that always the case with social media, and internet marketing in general?

by Brian Tibbs