Commentary

Instagram Video Gets A News Channel

While some of us complained that the 15-second Instagram video feature was an invitation to tiresome repurposed TV spots (yeah, that is me I am looking at), NowThis News is getting us to rethink this from another angle. The micro-but-not-nano streaming media format in Instagram is also an invitation for media brands to make it short and sweet.

NowThis News may be onto something in the Instagram Edition it announced yesterday. The young-skewing mobile-first video content is getting special versioning and custom news items fed into the Instagram platform. It turns out that 15 seconds is just the right length for your usual headline read and a sentence or two of context. In the few early videos already posted to the feed, we have had a mix of straight news items as well as animated slides that tell the news story without narration.  

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Ultimately, NTN plans to release 15-20 Instagram videos a day in a format that is native to Instagram. The company also distributes stills and animations on Tumblr and Pinterest as well as Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

To this brand's credit they seem to have developed discrete content approaches to the different social platforms. The Tumblr feed, for instance, alternates images with headlines to stop-motion clips of things like unboxing the new Chromecast doohickey from Google. The company is sort of a BuzzFeed for video in that it blends a wide range of breaking news with social-sharing bait, including cute animals.

While I think Instagram Video is likely too long for all but the most entertaining branded content pitches, it is perfect for nibbles of editorial content. Instagram is not a bad feed in which to encounter a fleeting animated headline with a news or human interest item from a trusted media source. I think NTN has already figured out that you don't want to rely too heavily on the TV talking head format. Edited static images with animated headlines and/or voiceovers work nicely and recognize that people don't always have their audio on or appreciate audio tracks running when they are in public.

Once we stop thinking of these emerging short-short video formats as novelty acts and begin to see their actual communicative potential for all kinds of information, we will get some cool experiments in video information architecture.      

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