Video killed the photo star (and probably Vine): Instagram gets video

So it seems a lot has been going on at Facebook towers recently. Only last week we saw the introduction of hashtags and now, Instagram (owned by Facebook incase you weren’t aware) have taken their brand of ‘vintage feel’, visual, content one step further; into video.

Here’s a potted history of Instagram:

  • October 2010 – Created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger
  • January 2011 – Instagram added hashtags, helping users discover both photographs and other users
  • September 2011 – Version 2.0 went live in the App Store (iOS).
  • April 3, 2012 – Instagram for Android was released
  • April 2012 – Over 100 million active users
  • April 12, 2012 – Facebook acquired Instagram for approximately $1 billion
  • December 17, 2012 – Instagram updated its Terms of Service, granting itself the right to sell users’ photos to third parties without notification or compensation – Following much criticism, this update was quickly retracted

So why video?

As we know, the social web is becoming an evermore visual place. Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm for example, gives specific preference to photo and video content over purely text base posts. It is therefore in many ways, simply the next logical step for the platform.

There is also, a glaringly obvious reason that Instagram have introduced video. And that is Vine.

Vine is, of course, Twitter’s very own video recording app and there will be no prizes for working out that this is clearly an attempt by the top boys at Facebook, to quash Twitter’s efforts to diversify.

Watching the video above and having played around with the new function, there are some obvious similarities with Vine; most notably the ‘hold and record’ style of video capture.

There are, however, some significant differences; in that you can of course apply filters to your video; you can delete unwanted sections of your video as you record; and, most importantly, you are not restricted to 6 seconds of video. Instead you have a whole 15 seconds to play with, which is “the perfect balance between not too short that it restrains your creativity and not too long where you end up having to wait a lot of time for something to download” according to Kevin Systrom

So what does this all mean?

Well firstly, it is becoming quite apparent that Facebook and therefore Instagram are very much trying to reaffirm themselves as the top social platforms for social communities and creative, self expressive UGC.

Unfortunately for Twitter, video on Instagram is indeed a huge hammer blow and may ultimately spell the end of Vine.

Additionally, this new function raises some interesting questions around what this means for video hosting channels:

  • If we start to see a shift in people’s behaviour in how they share video as a result of Instargam videos, what impact will this have on the number of videos uploaded to site sites such as YouTube?
  • Will this then provoke a similar response from Google, to create an app which allowed users to record, edit and upload short videos before uploading directly to YouTube?

The battle for social media dominance continues and Facebook certainly looks like it’s on the attack at the moment. We’re only halfway through the year, so I predict we haven’t heard the last of the big channel updates from Mr Zuckerberg.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have you played with video for Instargram yet?

Do you like it?

Is this the end of Vine?

Facebook hashtags: #WTF?

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Recent news that Facebook will be introducing hashtags has finally confirmed the rumours which have long been circulating amongst many social media commentators.

And with the widespread media coverage, not to mention the surreal situation whereby #hashtag was trending on twitter, it’s not just the social media kids who are talking about the ‘latest development’. I was asked by one of the account handlers in my agency, for my point of view on the matter. Here’s what I said:

Firstly, let’s take a look at the facts.

  • Hashtags have been in widespread use since 2007, when Chris Messina proposed that the pound sign (#) be used as a way of tagging topics on Twitter
  • Since 2007, the hashtag’s popularity has grown and has become the standard behaviour for grouping conversation across most of the big social channels; Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, etc. yet Facebook has traditionally resisted the introduction of the function
  • With Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram last year, it was almost inevitable Mr Zuckerberg and co would be looking at how they could integrate the two channels as much as possible
  • In the initial stages, only 20% of the user base will have access to hashtags, with further rollouts happening over an undetermined period of time (If the roll out of the new timeline and profile design is anything to go by, this could take several weeks)

So what does this mean?

Well, at this stage we don’t need to re-write the script and start doing anything drastically different.

Facebook hashtags will be positioned as ways of grouping conversation together, so will work in much the same way they do across Twitter, Instagram and Google+.

Therefore if you’re already using hashtags successfully on these channels, simply replicate on Facebook (N.B. I will try and write a post on the successful use of hashtags in a later post and link back here).

But there are some questions which are yet to be answered;

  • How will publicly searchable hashtags work against private profiles? So far, the majority of results returned in the hashtag stream seem to be from public profiles and pages.
  • How will the Facebook algorithm decide which content is given priority in the hashtag feed? Will it use Edgerank or will it simply show the latest mentions of that tag?
  • How long will it be before Facebook applies an advertising model (similar to Twitter’s promoted trends) in order to drive additional revenue?
  • Will Facebook hashtags pull in content from just Facebook or will they include Instagram photos?

Until they’re fully rolled out, we’ll have to wait and see.

For now though, I think the approach remains; business as usual (assuming you have a social media strategy which reaches beyond just Facebook). The use of hashtags is a pre-existing social media behaviour that users are already familiar with. The only difference being that it’s now available on Facebook.

Don’t get me wrong, is a great thing for the channel but is more a case of Facebook finally catching up, rather than a major game changer.

Facebook hashtags are already available to some users. If you haven’t seen them already, look out for the new, yet very familiar blue tags on your Facebook newsfeed now.

Have you seen the new Facebook hashtags yet?

What do you think of them?

Will they change how you approach Facebook?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Act 1, Scene 2.

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So…

My second update to, what initially promised to be a scintillatingly sartorial insight in to the world of social media, has been a long time coming.

I’m afraid my friends (not really sure who I’m talking to here: no one follows one blog post), you’re going to have to wait a little while longer for anything deep and meaningful.

So please accept my apologies if you’ve managed to land on this page by some stroke of cruel, indiscriminate fortune.

But please do check back soon. There will be more to come. I promise.

Just don’t hold your breath.

Act 1, Scene 1.

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You are not a ‘Social Media Expert’, ‘Guru’, ‘Master’ or any other over inflated, self congratulating title you have decided to adopt. Fortunately, neither am I.

Therefore, we should get on just fine.

So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride as I attempt to make some sense (and use) of the social web, choke slamming one ‘Social Media Ninja’ at a time.