As millions of users jump on the latest social network feature – 6 and 15 second shareable videos – I’m wondering, how will this change the landscape of sharing? The skills needed to make a compelling video seems to be beyond most of us. So will our experience of social media be diminished? Do we actually want to watch these super-shortform videos as much as we enjoy browsing photos? Will our friends’ content be worth the wait to download?
When I heard about the addition of video to Instagram, I thought that Facebook needed to compete with Twitter’s bite-sized-video-sharing juggernaut Vine, but on the other hand, a photo app with video… wouldn’t that be like Twinings getting into the coffee business?
Instagram is a marvel. The simple app reminded us of what we appreciate about the still image, and it arrived just as digital cameras and smartphones seemed to be reducing all our precious moments to a flat, faded and blurry picture.
Now, video looks set to go the same way. With seamless sharing across social networks, we’ll soon be showing our friends where we are with a panorama, not just a single frame. There’ll be crappy, wind-blown audio, dimly-lit party videos and clips of cats being cute.
Then there is the time limit – 6 seconds on Vine and now 15-seconds on Instagram. Expect to see sentences cut short, holiday panoramas that pan too quickly and people talking at an absurd speed to describe what’s happening.
I find it difficult to create compelling content within such a short timeframe. Vine’s six-second restriction limits any genuine storytelling and instead encourages videos that lie on a spectrum of spontaneous to trivial. Vine seems to acknowledge the challenge by recommending posts which are usually excellent examples of stop-motion animations, a very time-consuming process most of us will never master.
I believe 15-seconds may be the sweet spot. And some reports claim it’s no accident that it’s also the length of short TV commercials. It certainly holds more hope than 6-second movie trailers, like this Wolverine clip (epileptics beware) that WIRED calls a ‘tweaser’.
Perhaps this insanely concentrated format is ideal for a generation bred on 140 characters, acronyms and snapchats. Did you know that on average, nearly 20% of the audience that starts watching a given video clip will abandon it within the first 10 seconds of playback? What’s more, a slow 3G connection kills all the spontaneity. Viewers start to leave after waiting just two seconds.
Working with a brand, I know that brands often need even longer to tease a piece of broadcast content effectively. So I’m loving the extension that lesser known competitor TOUT gives to brands who sign up for their app. It’s well built, offers video uploading from your camera gallery, sharing across all networks and some editing.
I prefer the still image and a caption, personally.
Stop Press: Twinings IS in the coffee business. But let’s not encourage them.