The war between social networking giants Facebook and Twitter wages on as Instagram and Vine, their respective mobile video platforms, stand at the front lines of the digital battlefield.
Five weeks ago Facebook released a major update to it’s photo-sharing app Instagram, which it acquired in September 2012 for a cool $1 billion. The new update, Instagram v4.0, added the ability to shoot and share 15 second videos within the mobile app, which boasts 130 million users. Once announced, Instagram video was immediately and inevitably compared to Twitter-owned video sharing app Vine. Vine practically owned social video networking since it’s release in January of 2013, starting from scratch and growing rapidly to 20 million users over the past seven months. Facebook's Instagram video may seem like a direct attack on Twitter’s Vine, but that's because it's exactly what it is.
Previous Facebook vs. Twitter Warfare
Remember how Instagram turned its back on Twitter? Twitter was one of the biggest and best distributors for Instagram photos, but once Instagram aligned with Facebook it blocked Twitter from displaying the photo-sharing app’s photos, prodding viewers to visit Instagram to view the content. That is not the only battle between the two social networking sites. A week later Twitter fired back at Instagram by launching its own eight photo filters in an attempt to get Twitter users to abandon using other photo-sharing apps (like Instagram) to take photos and instead use Twitter directly to take and filter their photos directly for tweets.
When Twitter unveiled Vine January 24, 2013 making it the first major social network to own a mobile video-sharing app, digital-rival Facebook was right there to fight back. With Vine not even a day old, Facebook shut its digital doors on the app, blocking access to Vine users trying to search and connect to their Facebook friends. The move was very similar to when Twitter tightened up their own API restrictions in the summer of 2012, shutting off access for Instagram to Twitter’s user data, meaning Instagram users cannot search for their Twitter followers using the Instagram app.
The Latest Developments
On the day Instagram video was released, Instagram Blog reported, “Within the first 8 hours of launching Video on Instagram the community shared over a year’s worth of footage.” Later on, the blog linked to a CNET story: “Instagram users upload 5M clips in vid-sharing feature’s first day.”
Meanwhile, Topsy analytics showed a drastic drop in the number of Vine video’s linked to in tweets. Prior to the release of Instagram v4.0, more Vines than Instagrams were shared on Twitter.
Brands are also increasingly turning to Vine to reach their customers, as branded Vines are four times more likely to be shared than video ads. “Vine and other platforms (most recently Instagram) are leading a revolution in social video sharing,” said Unruly COO and co-founder, Sarah Wood in an Unruly release. “Mobile video consumption tripled in 2012; video is the fastest growing ad format worldwide and Vine is changing the social video landscape, six seconds at a time.”
It may seem that Facebook has dealt a final blow to Twitter, introducing their new way to share 15-second videos on Instagram. But given the history between these two social media giants, I think its too soon to call this a victory. Twitter and Vine will respond with an attack of their own.