June 24, 2013: In January 2013 Vine exploded onto the social media scene as the app for Tweens and Teens. An extension of Twitter’s service, Vine is easy to use and allows for the uploading of 6 second long videos. This was an immediate smash hit with the 9 to 16 year old set, allowing for the creation of short, sweet video content, much like Vines home service, Twitter.
However, it was just revealed yesterday that Instagram now has video. There are already brand camps squaring off, declaring allegiance to one platform or another, with hashtags such as #TeamVine arising.Some writers already claim that Instagram video is dead on arrival, because “Instagram doesn’t have a video making culture.” All this makes me do is shake my head in disbelief.
Why? Because Instagram has been the wisest strategic acquisition that Facebook has made in the past 3 years. It already has a strong remix culture, and is hugely popular with Teens and Tweens. The addition of video to Instagram is a no-brainer, and was anticipated as soon as the platform emerged. But that’s not really the issue.
The real issue is #hashtags.The addition of Hashtags to Facebook has been met with a relative ‘meh’ and a shrug from the press and blog world. “Big deal,” they say. “Facebook is an also ran that’s biting one of Twitter’s most popular features, years too late.”But Zuckerberg, he’s a tricksy one, he is.You see, with the adoption of both Hashtags and video, Facebook is now moving away from its intrusive advertising model to the more organic approach used by Twitter and Pinterest (although Pinterest hosts video, a “video culture” has not arisen on yet on Pinterest). This is as much a strategic move to cut Pinterest off at the pass as it is to compete with Twitter. With the success of Vine, it would be reasonable to assume that Pinterest will be loosening on its restrictions on video content.
Facebook seems to be hoping that its already huge Instagram base will immediately use the video feature to extend its own photo remix and sharing culture to short Vine-style videos. In short, Zuckerberg appears to want to kill an incipent Pinterest video culture as well as fight Twitter on its home Vine turf. So, with these moves, Facebook’s objective seems to be to confine Pinterest to the “still image penalty box.”Part of Mark Zuckerberg’s job as CEO of Facebook is to plan for the future. Combining hashtags with video functionality will enable Instagram to index and spread video content, and then allow forwarding of it in a pin-style manner. Finally, there’s the all important goal of making video on Instagram serve as a platform to be used for better video advertising.
It seems Instagram desires to be “the Pinterest for Video” in which Tween users create and then forward video snippets of what they care about to each other. If advertisers can create viral content that’s convincing and authentic, then the success of Vine and Pinterest can be reproduced with a built-in user base.
If Zuckerberg can do this, along with eliminating a potential competitor from the space, then he’s already done a good part of his job as CEO of Facebook.These are all free services, so, in one form or another, they must be supported with advertising. As always, Mark Zuckerberg shows us that his eyes are always on the elusive bottom line.
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