It has finally happened. Instagram, the free smartphone app famous for letting you take pictures and then share them across your social networks automatically, now lets you do the same with video.
As I mention in my blog post on the Paleo Blogging Diet, Instagram is one of those apps that can grab and share opportunistic marketing content in the form of behind-the-scenes photos.
If you have not been using Instagram then you haven’t worked with me recently.
How Instagram works
Instagram is a free app you can download for your iPhone or Android phone.
It lets you:
- take pictures (or use pictures already taken on your phone)
- apply a filter to your picture (tint, soft focus, etc)
- add a caption (complete with hashtags and Twitter usernames such as @baker_marketing)
- publish your picture directly to your free Instagram account, Facebook account or business page, Twitter account, and, if you have them, other accounts like Flickr and Tumblr
With the new ability to shoot a video instead of a still image, this easy-to-use and time-efficient service should be a great help to you in choosing video as part of your social media marketing from time to time.
To use Instragram’s video service (as with Vine, an alternative I’ll discuss shortly), you shoot by:
- selecting the video camera button within Instagram
- holding your finger on the shoot button on your screen (you can press and remove and press and remove your finger to shoot consecutive scenes up to your 15 second limit (six seconds for Vine)
- add filters
- add a caption
- select one of the frames to be the cover image, in true Instagram style
- publish to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and email
There are some catches and there are alternatives, so let’s work through them.
Instagram is owned by Facebook
One of the big headaches for social media marketers is that Instagram is owned by Facebook which is part of the reason that it fell out with Twitter recently (or vice versa).
This means that your images shared directly to Twitter via Instagram do not open directly as images within the native Twitter app or Twitter website like they used to.
Instead, they are displayed as links which users must click to open an Instagram window, etc.
Not the end of the world but it would surely cost some viewing numbers due to the extra clicks the end user needs to make.
There is a workaround using a tool called IFTTT.com, which can be set up to take any images added to your Instagram account and load them to your Twitter account as a ‘direct’ action, enabling them full display rights on Twitter. It is a little geeky to set up, so chat to your Baker Marketing contact or your own advisor about setting this up.
The other drawback with Instagram is the service’s stance against letting you simple embed your videos on your own website.
Instagram forces viewings to take place on Facebook or on Instagram itself.
However, there is a much simpler workaround.
After you shoot and publish your photos or videos with Instagram, your phone keeps a copy of the finished product in its image gallery.
Simply go to the image or video there and send to yourself as a standalone media object OR, in the case of video, directly to your YouTube account.
I did that with this Instagram video on how to make coffee at home, which got shared through my social accounts and is now easily embeddable on my website thanks to having the video hosted on YouTube.
[embedplusvideo height=”537″ width=”680″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/17uQ6cF” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/4eZV7flLitg?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=4eZV7flLitg&width=680&height=537&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=0&chapters=¬es=” id=”ep9655″ /]
Try it yourself.
Alternatives to Instagram Video
Some Twitter users have been using a service called Vine.
This is Twitter’s own video sharing service and allows its users to create six second videos, which continually loop (repeat) when viewed.
While six seconds can be useful for shooting cat videos (a comment I picked up from UK-based PR and communication expert, Neville Hobson), it doesn’t allow much time for developing meaningful communication, at least not for time-poor, pragmatic, owners of small-to-medium businesses.
However, it is fair to say that the six second limit has excited the geeks, with Vine being used to capture flip book animations, news grabs and creative use of stop motion, amid the plethora of banal party scenes and ‘moments’.
I even got my kids involved with a simple shoot (which reminds me, don’t work with children!!)
Hover your mouse over the image to see the sound button.
One of the selling points of Vine is that people make up their minds to pay attention or ignore a video or ad within 2-3 seconds of it starting, so only embarking to hold attention for six seconds seems a pragmatic approach to our society’s attention deficit condition.
However, when users find content they care about, they are typically ready to, or need to, consume longer form communication to get the ‘whole’ story.
So, if you do experiment with Vine, take the approach of putting time aside to try some creative experimentation, otherwise, you will find the six second cut off infuriating.
YouTube, the grand daddy of online video, also has a video shooting app called Capture.
It can shoot long form video, allows for instant sharing to YouTube and some basic editing.
However, it is different from the previous two apps because it does not allow for stop/start shooting.
So, you are now up to speed on the latest developments in online video capture and publishing for your social media marketing efforts.
Please feel free to send links to any work you produce on our Facebook Page or in the comments.