Since the Facebook-owned application, Instagram, introduced the video feature to it’s users a few weeks ago—there has been one question on my mind: How long will it be until we begin to see television-like commercials and ads on our social feeds?
With the new addition of video recording, Instagram latched onto the coat tails of the video app Vine, and catapulted itself into first place. But the competitive drive is still in the air, and with this resurgent popularity of video sharing online, (which isn’t really a new development, but rather a new conversation about an existing technology) it is obvious that if companies use this opportunity to do a little video marketing, they can tap into a potentially huge new advertising revenue stream.
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom is consistently repeating that the application is all about the users, but with the burgeoning new trends in social media marketing and the use of Instagram for branding and product highlighting, it is clear that this update provides a marketing advantage to business owners using the app.
Systrom was interviewed after the event announcing the video feature’s addition, and he believes that the near-term opportunities for brands to use the video feature would be similar to how they’re using Instagram photos currently—which is to capture moments at events that build on the brand’s image. And of course, Instagram is also used to snap shots of products, services, employees, customer testimonials, and more.
The CEO believes that video will just be an extension of this process, but as an avid Instagram user, my biggest fear is that perhaps companies will take advantage of the new feature in order to bring us a series of disruptive, unoriginal, and irrelevant commercials like the ones we are annoyed by on cable television—which is a primary reason that many Americans have switched to streaming their shows using services like Netflix or Hulu+.
Of course, this may only become frustrating for users who actually “follow” brands on their social networks, but of the 130 million people using Instagram, it is safe to assume that many are following their favorite celebrities and companies—patiently awaiting the next opportunity for gossip or discounts.
Minutes after video on Instagram was announced, Lululemon released the commercial above, and while creative and engaging− it is just he beginning of what is to come. It is no accident that Facebook designed Instagram’s new video feature to allow users to record for 15 seconds; that is exactly the same length as most television commercials.
But I have two view points in mind that are battling it out for dominance, and while one has spawned out of my demand for social network purity—free of tracking cookies and targeted advertising— the other stems from my experience working as a social media marketer.
Online video marketing is a phenomenal resource for small businesses because most of them cannot afford flashy commercials that play in 15-minute intervals on major television networks. Setting up accounts on YouTube, Instagram, and Vine takes approximately ten minutes and then you can begin to record personal product pitches, or shoot a video of your pet boutique’s grand opening, or even make a short movie that highlights the efficiency of your carpet cleaning service.
Many major corporations like Burberry are already using the video feature to share behind the scenes footage of their fashion shows—and I believe this is actually a fantastic use of the app’s addition. Because the company’s fans are engaged on Instagram, the more intimate of the social networks, Burberry has a chance to connect on a more direct level, and the people have access to the human side of the company—which enhances a consumer’s perception of the brand’s authenticity.
The Instagram leaders recognize the natural business opportunity inherent to the simplicity and versatility of the video feature, however for the time being they are encouraging brands to interact with their customers organically, rather than allowing market-directed ads, like the ones we see on Facebook.
I take that as a good sign; spontaneity and honesty are fundamental to the nature of Instagram. Businesses have a chance to showcase the candid and genuine elements of their brand. And if you’re a small business owner, that is what social media should be about—reaching out to the public, sans pretense and ulterior motivation. Let’s just hope that the Instagram team and community continue to agree, because I am not quite ready to give up my favorite social networking platform to the advertisers just yet!
By Sasha Novikov | Creatine Marketing