Instagram Video launched on June 20th and since then there’s been a constant debate as to whether Facebook’s Instagram or Twitter’s Vine is doing better and which will come out on top as the “go-to” social video app. The way in which this “success” gets determined should not only be through metrics like viewership or number of shared videos, but also by the ability of each platform to tell a compelling story. Each app’s features help craft an original, engaging story and the way people use those features will define the other metrics under debate.
Context of the Story
The arc of a story helps a viewer articulate how they personally relate to it. With a clear beginning, middle, and end, a person gains context and potentially relates to the story itself. When a person says to themselves, “I’ve experienced that,” a video is more likely to be shared and gain traction. Two University of Pennsylvania professors analyzed the New York Times’ most-emailed list, and came up with a list of factors that contributed to content going viral. Common denominators were feelings of awe, anger or anxiety.
Vine’s videos are approximately six seconds long and quite similar to a GIF, which makes it more difficult to build a story arc. By the sheer nature of Vine’s short time span offered for creation and the never-ending loop created from the repeating video, there is almost a purposeful lack of beginning, middle, and end. The fifteen second videos on Instagram give the same split and splice creation features as Vine, but the longer time frame gives an opportunity for a longer video and therefore a longer storyline to potentially connect with. Additionally, Instagram does not automatically loop the video moment.
If the Story Fits the Medium
Mobile as a medium is about absorbing information in quick snippets, typically on the go. Vine’s shorter videos are more likely to strike a nerve with an audience on mobile as a short story with a one line or moment take away, especially with the younger generation. It can be argued that Instagram’s success has been built on a mobile first mentality with its filtered photos that require one to two seconds to absorb. Whether Instagram videos will have the same success is another question left to the ever-changing attention span of mobile users in the coming months and years.
Real vs. Manicured
Which content type will “win” mobile and the next generation of content creators and consumers? Quicker, unfiltered content or longer, more beautiful content? In a New York Times article about Snapchat, an interesting point about quick, unmanicured content emerged: ”Many young people are growing tired of the polished profiles [associated with Facebook].” In Snapchat there are no filters, and it combats the fear of being real with its ephemeral content lifespan — Snapchat content literally self-distructs.
Vine, without filters, also offers the opportunity for users to be less manicured, more real. And the six second video seems quick — almost fleeting. Check out Buzzfeed’s list of hilarious Arya Stark vids as an example: “Arya Stark is the Queen of Vine.” Instagram, however, continues to bank on its original vision of capturing beautiful moments. And sometimes that beauty will be generated through manicuring and filtering. Jenna Wortham of the New York Times puts it well in a piece on Instagram video: “Instagram isn’t about reality – it’s about a well-crafted fantasy.”
Economy of Scale
Both services have larger, more established social media platforms to build from, which gives them both the ability to scale awe-inspiring stories to the masses. According to Instagram, there are 130 million monthly active Instagram users (including photo only users) and according to Vine, they’ve amassed 13 million registered users. While Instagram has the leg up in terms of a user base, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll boost the stories their videos highlight — because Instagram was developed for photo sharing, not video, which is Vine’s sole purpose and strength. With the recent introduction of revines and new camera tools to Vine, Vine’s user base could tip in either direction because these additions could help better communicate a Vine’s story to new and potential users alike.