Instagram for Video: Searching for the Next Big Thing

The Facebook IPO last Friday was a major milestone event for the social media industry and helped legitimize the market financial bonafides. Its $104 billion valuation speaks volumes about the market potential, and this rising tide has the ancillary benefit of lifting all other boats in the social media space.

Instagram has been the biggest story as of late, with its lofty $1 billion acquisition by Facebook. For a 3-year old company with no profits, it’s an eye-popping number – but one that makes sense when you understand that one of its core value propositions is passionate usage via mobile devices.

Mobile is quickly becoming the next frontier in social, and with the average person spending more time on their favorite social networks on their mobile devices than on their PCs.

While Instagram didn't invent social photo sharing, it did reinvent the experience and help it resonate on a more emotional level among users by capturing a certain style – even nostalgia – with its various photo treatments. It is only natural given Instagram’s success that the tech community would look for a similar evolution in social video-sharing.

Most of us are probably familiar with social video sharing, even if we don’t recognize all of the services rapidly entering this space. The main ones popping up in my Facebook Newsfeed of late are Socialcam, Viddy, and Chill.

The simple apps can be downloaded to your smartphone, and you can go from recording a video, to editing it with cool music and a retro look, to posting it to your social media feeds instantaneously. It’s no surprise that many of these catchy videos are quickly going viral.

watched-a-video-on-socialcam

Based on how ubiquitous these services have become almost overnight, we can expect the VC money will be flowing in and some leading Internet companies might begin thinking acquisition.

As we saw with Instagram, establishing a leadership position is critical and it is no different in the fast-emerging video-sharing market. If your offering is somewhat similar to the others (think Hipstamtic to Instagram), then which metrics are most important?

While active users are the ultimate test, in the gold rush days of a new market it’s critical to acquire those potential users, making app downloads and registered users especially important. Although there are plenty of organic ways to increase your user base, there is no substitute for press and celebrity adoption to drive huge spikes in interest.

If you’ve ever wondered why public figures get paid thousands of dollars for product related tweets, or PR professionals fall all over themselves to get a write up in the right publication, the Socialcam and Viddy search data should answer your question.

Prior to April 2012, there was almost no discernible interest in Socialcam or Viddy being expressed in terms of searches. But then Facebook announced its Instragram acquisition on April 9 and suddenly the universe goes crazy, with every reporter and pundit speculating about the next billion-dollar startup.

It took about 5 minutes before stories on Gizmodo, The New York Times, and CNET popped up around Socialcam. You can see the impact that such media attention had on branded search volume for “Socialcam”:

branded-search-volume-for-socialcam

Although Socialcam seemed to get the most of the post-Instagram press, it was Viddy that benefited from direct celebrity investment and even indirect endorsement.

The largest spike in Viddy's search activity coincided with announcements by major celebrities that they were investing in Viddy, including Shakira and Jay-Z, as well as an indirect endorsement by Mark Zuckerberg signing up for the service and posting a video of his dog, Beast.

viddy-search-volume

Search ends up offering a strong reflection of the media and cultural buzz that comes with the territory of being cast as ‘the next big thing.’ And while search can help direct new users to these services, whether they fulfill that promise has much more to do with the quality of the experience and meeting the needs of the customer. So, will SocialCam or Viddy be the one eventually anointed the Instagram of video? Only time – and search – will tell.

About the author

Eli Goodman leads the Agency Business Development team and serves as comScore’s Corporate Evangelist for the Marketing and Communications group. He is a 15-year veteran of the Market Research and Digital space, and has been a frequent conference speaker for over a decade. He has expertise in both quantitative and qualitative research and its application toward digital marketing strategy. Eli earned a BA in Organizational and Behavior Management from Brown University and resides in New York City.