Instagram rolled out a new toy to users on Thursday: video. The new feature was ostensibly a response to Twitter's introduction of Vine (in basest terms, "Twitter for video") earlier this year, but that doesn't make it any less significant.
The question remains, though: Significant in a good way, or significant in a bad way? Unlike Vine, which is its own social network, Instagram video is built right in to the trusty Instagram app. That means users will try and fail with video in a space that's already been heavily curated to other users' specific photo tastes. Snapping a good photo and shooting a good video -- even one that's 15 seconds or less -- are two entirely different beasts.
There are some best practices users can adhere to, though, to make their foray into "microvlogging" as smooth as possible.
Play to the medium
We have a pretty good idea of what will work best with Instagram video thanks to its chief rival. The best Vine users are the ones who have fully embraced the medium — i.e. formatted their content specifically for six seconds of video, rather than simply recording something for six seconds. What's the difference? Well, take a look at this Vine Paul made of his dog randomly running around in a circle:
(Hey, we all need to experiment to find our voice.)
Now take a look at one of Lowe's brilliant Vines, which focus on DIY home repair tips:
The difference, in a word, is storytelling (yes, in 15 seconds or less).
Channel Dieter Rams: 'Less, but better.'
Instagram video providing 15 seconds compared to Vine’s six is like Twitter opening the gates to 300 characters per tweet. But even at 140 characters, do you always use them all? Not if you don’t need to. Treat your 15 seconds of Instagram video like the last $20 in your pocket: stretch it where it counts, and give it up for valuable content.
Take advantage of the tools available
Instagram video has a few tools that prep you for cinematic quality videos:
-Filters: Enough said.
-Frame lengths: Instagram tracks your video length below the camera with small notches that show the size of each clip. This is a helpful tool for time-lapse photos to create consistency.
-Cinema feature: For iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 users, Instagram has built a cinema feature that allows you stabilize your video after you take it. It's perfect for those videos where you capture your feet as you walk to happy hour or tour a new city.
Know when to use a photo, and when to use a video
Sometimes a story is best told with one frame. Photographs can capture detail and focus on a subject in ways videos can’t. Try not to overload your feed with the same content. Here's some help in deciding on whether you should share a photo or video on Instagram:
-Is your subject moving? Video.
-Do you have multiple focal points? Video.
-Is your subject a person? Photo. Is the person sharing advice? Video.
We've also put together this handy infographic (click for full size). Check it out, and be sure to follow us on Instagram.