For those of you who have just joined us, we’ve set out to uncover the pros and cons of social video sharing networks in order to determine which one is best for your brand. So far we’ve covered some of the most popular social video sharing networks like Keek, Vine and Vimeo. Today though, we’re here to talk about Instagram.
In today’s installment of the five part series we’ve taken an in-depth look at Instagram video in a bid to discover which of its features (or lack thereof) will help or hinder brands on their road to success.
Instagram is a social photo and video sharing network which is available as an app for popular platforms such as Android and iOS. The app allows users to take photos and videos, add enhancing filters to them and then share them with friends.
Founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Kreiger Instagram, Instagram started life as a location based, photo sharing project called Burbn. After a successful round of seed funding, Burbn became known as Instagram. The app was initially released on iOS only. It became so popular on iOS that when it was finally released on Android in April 2012 it received over one million downloads in less than a day.
It turned out that April 2012 was to be a very successful month for Instagram, not only did they receive a warm welcome to Android OS but they were also offered $1 billion by Facebook to buy the company and hire its 13 employees which they accepted.
Since being acquired by Facebook Instagram has worked hard to improve its service and functionality, the most recent addition being the ability to record video. Which is what you’re here to find out about…
How Does it Work?
So, getting down to the nitty gritty; firstly you’ll need to download the Instagram smartphone app for Android or iOS. Once it’s downloaded you’ll need to create a profile. Your username should be as close to your brand name as possible because it will be displayed on your profile and users will search for it to find you. If you choose to log in with Facebook, you can be automatically connected with your Facebook friends which are already on Instagram. Instagram also pulls your profile picture from Facebook so you don’t have to worry about uploading or taking a new picture (unless you want to that is). However, if you use a Facebook business page then the finding friends feature won’t work for you because you have fans not friends (sorry to break your heart).
To complete your profile you can also add your website address and a short bio about your brand or company.When users tap to look at your profile the website address and bio will appear under your profile picture along with a large button prompting the user to follow you. Your profile also shows how many posts you’ve made, how many people are following you and how many you are following.
To take a video, tap the camera icon which is in the centre at the bottom of the screen. On the next screen there will be a video camera icon. Tap this this to select the video recording feature. To film you need to tap and hold down the video camera icon. Instagram videos are a maximum of 15 seconds long. When you’ve finished recording tap the “Next” button. This screen is where you can apply the filters which are what makes Instagram so popular. There is also a stabilizer feature which you can use to reduce shaking from unsteady filming. Once you’ve selected your filter tap the “Next” button where you can edit your cover image. Make sure you pick an image which best represents what users will find when they watch your video but without giving the content away completely. The cover image is basically there to pique interest. Tap the “Next” button once more to be taken to the share screen. The share screen allows you to add a caption to your video, add your photo to a map and also to share to social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Foursquare. Lastly but most importantly, tap the “Share” button to share your video on Instagram.
Who Uses It?
Instagram is widely used around the world. However a study by Pew Research found that Instagram is more popular with women and overall it is more popular with younger people, with 28% of users being between ages 18-29.
If you want to talk more in terms of which brands or celebrities are doing their thing and owning it on Instagram then you’ll find that most of them have pulled up a chair and joined the club. Mashable recently reported on the 25 Most-Followed Instagram users and the line-up includes YouTube celebrity Jenna Marbles, The Hills star Lauren Conrad, Ryan Seacrest, Starbucks (with over 454,000 followers – some people just love their coffee), Barack Obama and not surprisingly Kim Kardashian at number two and Justin Bieber at number one.
What Does it Look Like?
- It has a nice, clean user interface and is extremely easy to use.
- “Beautifying” your video is easy with a selection of filters and tools.
- Instagram has a massive user base and is popular with a variety of demographics, so you can use it to reach multiple audiences.
- Connect your account to Twitter and Facebook so when you upload a new video you can easily share it to multiple accounts quickly and efficiently.
- Add hash tags to your video to help people find it.
- Tag people in your video. This is a useful feature if you want to create a video response to a particular customer query – you can tag the customer in the video to ensure that they will see it. It’s also a great way to develop interaction and engagement with your followers.
- Currently it’s free to use and it looks set to stay that way for the forseeable future.
- It’s free from ads too – which normally always means a better user experience. However you’d be kidding yourself if you think it will stay ad-free forever.
- If you’re on Instagram you can easily see if consumers are interacting with your brand by taking photos and videos of it. Use the Search Tags feature to look up your company name and see what results you get back. If you’re a restaurant you might find some users have posted pictures or videos of a meal they had there (food pictures are a bit of an Instagram trend) and then you could Like it or Comment on it with something along the lines of “Thanks for stopping by Ted’s Burger Shack, it was great to meet you! We hope to see you again soon 🙂 “. The user will appreciate the sentiment and your brand will be reinforced in their mind.
The Cons of Instagram:
- The desktop website leaves a lot to be desired. If you prefer to manage your account from a computer instead of a mobile app, then Instagram is not for you…yet.
- The Explore feature is not as good as other video networks such as Vine for example. It’s much easier to be inspired by new content when you can choose from categories or see items which are trending. When you tap the Explore feature within Instagram you then see a display of photos and videos – and you’re not really sure why Instagram has chosen to show you these in particular.
- Over tagging. Many of the users of Instagram seem to think adding a surplus of tags to their videos will help grow them a mass following. Whilst it will help, it makes more sense to have a couple of relevant tags that people are likely to search for rather than making every word in your video description a hash tag. (See the photo gallery for an example of over tagging).
- Because of the previous point, sometimes when a user decides to search by tags to find content they might be interested in, it can bring up completely irrelevant content, which can be annoying because the user then has to sift through the “junk”. (Take a look at the photo gallery for the tag search for #dogs. The search returned guinea pigs, giraffes and other miscellaneous items and creatures). However we’re aware that Instagram does not bear much control over this.
What Brand Does Instagram Work Best For?
Instagram works well for a variety of different brands. Celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian can use it to give their fans a peek into their life and what they’re up to at that moment. Brands which have a tangible product like Starbucks or Nike can use Instagram video to get creative and show off their products in different lights and settings. Instagram is also perfect for developing brand evangelists. For example if you search the tags for “cider” you’ll get back over 400,000 results and among them are an array of photos taken of Rekorderlig cider by users. Think of it as digital word of mouth marketing.
Service based companies and brands can also harness the power of Instagram. Hotel booking sites like i-escape could use the video feature to produce short video tours of hotel rooms or key places to visit at destinations they offer.
Well, that brings us to the end of the Instagram coverage in this five part series. We hope this blog post gave you some insight into Instragram and how you could use it for your brand. Remember to stay tuned for the final part of this five part series where we’ll be covering YouTube.