What You Need To Know About Vine, Video For Instagram, And Other Visual Social Networks

June 26, 2013  |  

Credit: Shutterstock

The past two years has seen the rise of visual social networks, with Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram growing in popularity, and the introduction of Vine, Snapchat, and now video for Instagram. So what’s with this new focus online?

Actually, an interest in photos and videos isn’t new. YouTube was one of the fastest-growing websites years before Pinterest took the title in 2012. And when it comes to photo updates on Facebook, 46 percent of adult Internet users post their own photos or videos, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Fifty-six percent share other photos and videos they found online. As smartphones have come equipped with better and better cameras, it has allowed the average user to take great quality photographs and make them even better (ahem, Instagram filters).

So when Snapchat debuted in 2011, allowing users to send photos and videos that disappear within 10 seconds, teenagers and younger consumers jumped all over it. Now, even Wall Street is showing interest in the app, which is seeing users share more than 200 million “snaps” a day. The company also just raised $60 million in funding and has plans for in-app purchases for monetization.

Next up is Vine, a video-sharing app acquired by Twitter in January that allows users to create six-second clips. Brands have already started to use the app to connect with customers and share messaging. After being downloaded 13 million times on iOS, Vine debuted an Android version in early June.

And then, as if in response to Twitter and Vine, Facebook-owned Instagram announced its own short-video option last week. This new video option allows for 15-second videos and lets users add filters to their videos, just as Instagram allows filters for regular photos. Many are wondering if it will kill Vine, while others are more skeptical.

Earlier this week, video technology company Unruly found that Vine videos were being uploaded to Twitter at a rate of nine per second, up from five per second in April. However, Topsy, a social media analytics company, found that the day Video for Instagram debuted, links to Vine videos dropped sharply, while links to videos on Instagram  already surpassed that number.

While the average consumers is just excited to see their friends in short video clips or find that perfectly-matches-my-mood GIF on Tumblr, advertisers are seeing posts with images as the best-performing on social media. Fans and followers engage more with visual and photo posts, and they can share their branding and messaging in new ways. There have even been some measurement firms and marketing experts that are focusing on this visual storytelling aspect of social media.

So brands and advertisers are interested in keeping up this visual trend, and the social networks seem to be taking advantage of this wave, but will consumers? As technology makes it easier to create and share—not to mention faster to download and watch—this previously high-entry content will continue to rise in popularity. And because these apps and sites don’t have the penetration of Facebook just yet, there is still room to grow.

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