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Vine vs. Instagram: Clash of the Cool Kids

By Tim Brookes2013-07-18

Within hours of Facebook announcing that they had added the ability to shoot short, 15-second looping videos to Instagram, the words “RIP Vine” were trending worldwide on Twitter. As ever, the cool kids had overreacted, spurred on by Justin Bieber’s first video and a very convincing effort to promote the service on Facebook’s part.

Adding video to Instagram was not the death of Vine that many predicted. If anything, the addition of an alternative service on which to post your looping videos should be embraced – competition is good for business, after all. But what’s the difference between them?

And why can’t you use both?

Note: This article takes into account my experience with the iOS versions of both Vine and Instagram. The services are also available via official clients for the Android operating system, though development is not necessarily in sync between both separate versions.

Technically Speaking

There are a few clear differences between a Vine video and an Instagram video. First up, six seconds is all you get on Vine to tell your tale. That’s a limitation, but think of it more like a rule: you have to get everything you want in your video recorded in six seconds. This is done by touching and holding the screen, or you can record small fragments frame-by-frame by tapping the screen.

Instagram gives you a whole 15 seconds to play with here, so you’ve got a lot more time to use (though you don’t have to use it all). Recordings are made in a similar fashion, except by touching and holding the capture button rather than anywhere on screen. Similarly, though I managed a rudimentary stop-motion film I didn’t feel that Instagram offered the same responsive, frame-by-frame tap-to-capture mode. This would make it unsuitable for stop-motion animation.

In addition to video length, the tools provided are a little more refined in Vine – though only for the iOS version at the time of writing. Twitter has added options to use the front-facing camera, a grid for better composition, a focus mode (tap it, tap to focus, then tap it again to return to shooting) and “ghost mode” – or what I recognised as “onion skin” mode. Simply put, “ghost mode” allows you to see the previous shot overlayed over the viewfinder, so you can create perfect stop motion videos that don’t lose track of items. It’s worth mentioning that the Vine community was rather good at using the app for animation even before these extra tools were added. Vine is now more than a visual parallell to Twitter, it’s an animation toybox!

Then again Instagram has it’s upshots too, particularly when it comes to post processing. I’m not talking about filters (yet) either, but editing. Instagram included an “oops” function that allows you to delete the last clip you shot if you are not happy with it. Think of it like backspace for videos, as that’s how it works. Such a feature is missing from Vine, though you could argue this truer to the Twitter ethos – Tweets are disposable, after all. Once you’ve shot (and re-shot) your clips, Instagram can smooth it over with image stabilisation – nothing special, but still lacking in Vine. Being Instagram, it goes without saying there are 13 video filters to apply, each of which you can preview in realtime.

It might also be worth pointing out that Vine only allows you to shoot video, whereas Instagram earned its stripes as a photo sharing platform, and that functionality is as polished as ever.

The Popularity Contest

There is more separating the two than just the technical limitations of each app, particularly when it comes to consumption. I’ve long had a problem with Instagram’s Explore tab – in my experience it’s either advertising, photos that were obviously not taken with a smartphone or images that aren’t photos at all, but “meaningful” quotes and phrases.

Unfortunately Vine has succumbed to the popularity contest too. For months now, the service has been victim to self-promotion on a massive scale to the point where most comments on items in Vine’s Popular Now section are literally “CHECK OUT MY VINES LOLOLOL”. This is probably the result of the social network’s ability to elevate certain community members to micro-celebrity status. Vine is like open mic night at a comedy gig – everyone can have a go, but you’ll soon notice who keeps appearing on the bill week after week.

Both services allow you to follow and be followed, and while both also allow searching via hashtags, only Vine users get channels. Added in the most recent (iOS) update, Vine now has 15 dedicated channels which you can submit your videos to, including Comedy, Dogs, Music, Weird and my favourite Art & Experimental. It works pretty well: tap a channel, scroll forever. You can now also re-vine anything you like, which is like retweeting but for Vine videos.

Sharing outside of the app is possible from both services, with Facebook having only recently added the ability to embed Instagram videos on a page. Unfortunately, Facebook have stopped all Instagram content displaying via embedded Tweets, or via and other clients like Tweetdeck. Conversely, Vine embeds alongside Tweets just fine.

Use Both!

Hey guess what? I have an Instagram account! I also have a Twitter account, through which I started using Vine. You too, can use both. Believe it or not, you don’t have to swear an allegiance to just one service. Taking a swooping shot of a beach-side resort at sunset? Instagram’s longer videos, filters and image stabilisation will probably provide the best results.

But if it’s stop-motion art, experimental rough and ready weirdness or just a quick video you need to get on Twitter then I’d always reach for Vine. I also find it easier to pick up and simply “browse” Vine, though there’s no arguing that Instagram makes up for its shortcomings in the sheer volume of users who frequent the service.

Both Instagram and Vine offer a chance to sell yourself to the world, and there are challenges to conquering both. Check out some of our hottest Instagram marketing tips and advice for furthering your photos as well as some of the more interesting uses for Vine and the highlights so far if you’ve enjoyed this article.

Which do you prefer? Have you tried Instagram video yet? What do you think of Vine’s latest update? Share your thoughts and looping videos below.


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