Instagram, not so insta anymore

instagram-video-appInstagram: the app that turned the average Joe into a pro photographer, boasts of over a 100 mn users as of February this year and was named app of the year by Apple in 2011(Source:Instagram blog). Its users have been snapping up their breakfast bagel, their awesome lives and even their bathroom tiles. Now, video comes to Instagram. 15 whole seconds of it. Suddenly the app’s Kaizen philosophy appears to have taken a detour.

In a scramble to have it all, the world of social media has progressively become somewhat akin to the Cola wars, with Facebook and Twitter at the helm. It started with Facebook buying Instagram and Twitter buying Vine. Then Facebook rolled out hash tags to get on par with its 140 character nemesis, and now, to take on Vine, Instagram launches video.

While this is all turning into one big content creation party, before you race out to shoot an #igram video to combat a burning FOMO starting to stir within you, consider this: it might not be watched.

The video app market is over fragmented with offerings, some merely differentiated by length constraints – there’s Viddy which allows upto 30 secs of footage, Keek, which allows 36 secs and Socialcam which is uncapped. Then there’s the recent Vine, which challenges your creativity with a 6 sec limitation,which in my opinion, can be fun if done right(my thoughts on Vine here).  Instagram brings its cache of awesome filters over to video, but has failed to ask itself a crucial question –is this just an attempt to compete with Vine and push a technology platform or will it enrich the current Instagram experience? I fear it takes away from it.

The platform might be amazing for its video shooting capabilities, I don’t doubt it. I can also see how this is a juicy bone for brands chasing the famed “content marketing” wagon. The caveat I offer to both would be, don’t bet on your friends/consumers being as amazed as you are with your #birthdayshenanigans and #soundsoftheocean clips, shot with the X-pro II filter.

micro-publishing media

In the online world of social publishing, there has been a gradual swing towards documenting micro-moments. Sharing is encouraged, but in mini morsels that can weave in and out of busy lives without being an interruption. Under these circumstances, 15 second footage of your life seems like a short film. More so if it’s shot in Lo-Fi. Instagram took the photo-sharing baton from Flickr and ran with it, when it comes to video however, the party may have moved elsewhere.

A sense of media fatigue has begun to set in; the popularity of Snapchat is right on the dime with the trend of see it and/or forget about it. Its ephemeral nature makes it interesting. Infact, brands looking to get on the next wave of social would do well looking into this app, especially for limited-time promo code offers and teasers.

What works for Vine is that it lined up with behavioural shifts (instant/fleeting/micro), Instagram-video is an offering that isn’t all that insta nor very differentiated and clutters an otherwise idle, scrolling user experience.

One can only hope there’s an opt out of the video stream.

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Touching upon Canadiana, yet again!

One of my first blog posts was about Molson Canadian, the beer that drew on a sense of national pride, that owned all things Canadian and silenced stereotypes once and for all. (Read post here)

Along the way I’ve found many nuances of brands skirting the topic of what it means to be Canadian or to live in the great white north. From the landscape to the lifestyle to the type of people – I’ve heard it all. I recently saw an ad for Canadian Tire, a hardware chain that drew inspiration from the same potion of Canadiana – it talks about our love for the great outdoors.

It made me take a step back and reexamine the strength and merit of this over used sing-songs-of-all-things-canadian style of advertising.

I reflected on Indian advertising, and found a similar vein. India being way too diverse to touch upon geographical traits, brands touch upon Indian behavioral stereotypes to make an instant connection with the consumer. Here’s an example: (this ad is for a VoiP calling service for Indians living abroad, hence the use of cents instead of rupees)

I lived in Miami Beach for the first quarter of this year and was tuned in to the superbowl craze that envelops America. The ads being as important as the game, I sat up and paid attention. And then I saw it – a pride in homeland, or in this case, home state type of ad. Chrysler’s Detroit commercial, featuring Eminem.

My point here is, when does this patriotic/cultural stereotyping stop being heart-warming and start sounding well, slightly pseudo? Do Canadians really rake up a 6 ft pile of leaves just so the kids can play in it? Isn’t it cliched to assume all Indians behave in the same manner? And is it okay to start by assuming Detroit knows nothing about luxury?

One could argue that it’s just another way of connecting with the consumer on a meaningful level – by generalizing or playing to common beliefs. But is the consumer starting to tire of being pigeon-holed? When is enough,enough? Or are we already there? I welcome a discussion,as always.