Instagram added video to its app in the summer of 2013. This feature came just five months after the launch of Vine, the video-sharing app. Both apps allow the creation of short videos and both are backed by social media giants: Vine by Twitter and Instagram by Facebook. One year later, which app has won the battle for video dominance and marketers’ attention?
Vine: The Back Story
Vine launched in January 2013 as a free iOS app and just three months later it became the most downloaded free app. Vine’s unique selling point is in the format. Videos are just 6 seconds and repeat automatically. This short burst of video appealed to consumers and, at last count, Vine had over 40 million users.
Although Vine is owned by Twitter (which paid $30 million for Vine before it launched), it’s never been fully integrated into the Twitter app experience. This helped Instagram, the late arrival to the party.
Instagram video launched as a part of the core Instagram app offering. Although Instagram video launched after Vine, it still had a head start in terms of building its user base. Instagram users didn’t need to download anything new. Since videos appeared seamlessly in users’ feeds, it felt natural. Contrast this with Twitter users, who may see the occasional Vine in their news feeds, but didn’t have the tools within the Twitter app to create their own content.
At the time, Instagram’s addition of video was seen as a reaction to the success of Vine. But now it seems more likely that short form video was a key part of Instagram and Facebook’s mobile monetization strategy all along.
Brands on Vine
Some major brands were quick to try Vine’s new form of video marketing. Lowe’s, the home improvement retailer, assembled easy, do-it-yourself home improvement tips, such as the one below.
Oreo demonstrates a pepper grinder in a whole new light in this Vine.
Brands on Instagram
Brands use Instagram in a more mainsteam way. The longer 15-second format provides more time to communicate a message, similar to a traditional television ad spot. MTV, the television network, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show use Instagram video as 15-second teasers. Retail brands, such as Target, are now creating original content too.
Instagram vs. Vine
So, which service will win the short-form video battle?
- Downloads. When it comes to download statistics, Instagram wins hands down. According to AppData, the analytics service, Instgram remains one of the top free downloads across iOS and Android devices. At the time of writing, it ranked fifth and fourth, respectively.
Meanwhile 18 months after it launched, Vine’s downloads have slowed, ranking outside the top 20 apps, as newer entrants such as Snapchat, have entered the market. (I’ve addressed Snapchat’s role in ecommerce previously, in “What Does Shapchat Mean for Ecommerce?.”)
- Usage. Instagram’s 200 million active monthly users dwarf Vine’s. But when it comes to video-sharing activity, the picture is less clear.
Vine claims 12 million videos uploaded every day. Instagram does not release video stats, but what I do know is that Instagram has 75 million active daily users who share 60 million photos each day. We also know that brands are adopting to the video format.
- Buzz. Word of mouth is notoriously difficult to measure, but when I look at some simple surface metrics it’s clear which platform has the most discussion. In the last month, Instagram was the most talked about (according to a search on Social Mention), with 368 mentions compared to 307 for Vine. However positive sentiment is higher for Vine with an 8:1 positive-to-negative ratio, compared to 6:1 for Instagram.
Instagram is the bigger and better platform for marketers. It offers more flexibility, a longer time to get the message across, and a wider captive audience.
In contrast, Vine is much more specialized. It has a smaller user base. Its key benefit is the integration with Twitter, which has blocked direct viewing of Instagram content for many months now — users have to navigate away from Twitter to see Instagram videos. (It remains to be seen, incidentally, whether Facebook will block Vine content.)
In general, marketers, such as me, benefit from focusing their attention on fewer platforms. So until Vine can offer something extraordinary, I’ll be using Instagram.