Snapchat is now being used by more than 150 million people every day, users who are consuming some 10 billion+ videos via the app. Instagram's now reaching 300 million per day, with video view time increasing 150% in the last six months. And let's not even talk about video on Facebook.
And as all these platforms have seen huge increases in their video consumption rates, Twitter, and their video apps Periscope and Vine, have seen significantly less of the action. While Periscope has reported steady growth - back in March, the app reported that viewers are consuming the equivalent of 110 years of video on the app every day, up from 40 years in August 2015 - Vine's growth has slowed significantly. As reported by The Wall Street Journal (and TechCrunch), the top 10 Vine accounts saw their loop counts per video drop 29% from May 2015 to March 2016. So while the video explosion has been great for the platforms that are seeing overall jumps in engagement and popularity, Twitter has seen comparatively smaller growth, though growth nonetheless (video Tweets on Twitter have increased by over 50% since the beginning of 2016).
And now they're looking to course correct and boost their video efforts.
In a series of announcements, Twitter has unveiled a range of important changes to several of their video options. They are as follows:
140 Second Videos
As per Twitter:
"Where previously, uploaded videos were limited to 30 seconds, now anyone can create video Tweets up to - you guessed it - 140 seconds long. (Select publishers will continue to be able to post videos up to 10 minutes long through our professional publisher tools.)"
Now, everyone can post videos up to 140 seconds long! We can't wait to see the amazing videos you create and share.https://t.co/DFsuvnXkuL- Twitter Video (@video) June 21, 2016
That's an increase of more than 200% in the available video length via tweet, which is a massive shift. The change somewhat goes against Twitter's ethos of brevity, but the problem Twitter's seeking to address is that people have simply not been able to communicate all they want to within the 30 second time constraint.
Instagram recently announced similar, upgrading their video option from 15 seconds max to 60 seconds - in a recent interview, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said that they implemented the change to cater to user demand.
"Instagram is becoming more and more video dominant, video heavy, and I think that's just a sign of the times, people are taking more video, consuming more video - and frankly, all these influencers that exist on Instagram, [...] they're all video heavy as well. I think it's a generational thing."
That's the same trend that Twitter's trying to capitalize on - by providing additional room for creators to build context, they're hoping to encourage more of them to share more video content on the platform. The increased length will also make it easier for creators to cross-post longer pieces, as Twitter's video length limit will now be more aligned with other platforms.
And on that front, Twitter's also extending the length of Vines to 140 seconds, though not quite in the same manner.
Unwinding the Vine
In an accompanying announcement, Vine has unveiled their option to expand Vine content beyond six seconds - though interestingly, the announcement in itself acknowledges that such a shift is a fundamental alteration of Vine's key differentiator.
Here's the opening paragraph:
"Creators! You tell us you love the six seconds, that short form is the ethos of Vine. (Our hearts agree!) You say the constraint breeds creativity and helps you develop sharper editing and timing - or, in your words, teaches you to pour an ocean into a cup :)"
Sounds like they're really happy about that 6 second limitation, right? But no, this is an announcement outlining the extension of the Vine limit.
To be fair, Vines won't actually change all that much, at least not in terms of how they're presented. The new, longer Vines will appear as normal, with the 6 second limitation, but there'll be a new 'Watch More' prompt with a timer showing the full length available at the bottom right of screen - you can see the prompt in the first screenshot here.
In this sense, it's still the Vine you know and love, but as noted, Vine's very keen to give their top creators more options to keep them around - and sometimes, those creators want to be able to tell a longer story via the platform. The lack of ability to create longer, more engaging Vine content has lead to many creators shifting to other options, using Vine as a preview and directing users to YouTube, or even Instagram, to "watch the full video." The update will give users more capacity to build and maintain audience on Vine.
As a further effort to strengthen ties with influential creators, Twitter's also announced a new app to help people with large followings stay on top of their mentions, while also announcing new monetization options for Vine creators, specifically.
As noted on the Vine blog:
"We recognize how important this is for creators, and we want to fuel their creativity. As an example of this, we're also announcing that with Twitter's Amplify Open program, we have a path to empowering creators with future monetization options. Of course, we also work closely with Niche, which any creator can sign up for, and we'd love to hear your ideas too!"
The new Vine monetization process will see pre-roll ads inserted into Vine, with 70% of the revenue going back to creators, a risky addition, but a necessary one in a monetization sense.
Twitter's new "Engage" app, meanwhile, makes it easier for influential users to be able to keep track of their tweet mentions and get more of an understanding of what their followers are interested in.
Engage highlights important interactions and updates from your Twitter audience, including influential new followers and mentions.
Engage also provides analytics on tweet performance and audience, filterable by different time periods, while also providing access to audience demographics and a real-time feed of what your fans are Tweeting about at any moment to get an idea of what's resonating.
It's similar to Facebook's 'Mentions' app, which is available to journalists and public figures, though Twitter has opted to make Engage available to all users.
And the final element of Twitter's video update is a new 'Watch Mode' within Twitter that will highlight similar content to that which you're viewing in order to boost on-platform video consumption.
Explore more videos and Vines that are lighting up Twitter. Our new viewing mode will let you watch more with a tap. pic.twitter.com/XyBaes37T7- Twitter Video (@video) June 21, 2016
As you can see, when you tap on a video Tweet or Vine in your Twitter timeline, you'll be taken to a new, full-screen viewing experience, with additional video and Vine Tweets suggested below. This works in line with Twitter's real-time discovery angle, and provides a similar function to Mentions, though it's video specific. The same model has proven successful on Facebook and YouTube, and it'll open the door for Twitter to insert ads between content - though that's not something they're looking to implement at this stage.
They're interesting additions, for sure, but how much of an impact they'll have in terms of boosting video consumption on Twitter we'll have to wait and see. As noted, Twitter's somewhat behind the trend on video already, and these additions feel like they're playing catch-up, as opposed to adding something fresh. Trying to maintain relationships with influential creators is essential - and is actually part of Twitter's five priority pillars outlined by CEO Jack Dorsey recently - but with so many of those influencers already switching across to other platforms, part of the challenge, already, may be in winning them back.
For everyday users and brands, the extension of video on Twitter will be welcome, and while it does go against the ethos of the platform, they'll likely also be beneficial on Vine - though the fact that they've compromised Vines in this manner doesn't appear to bode well for the platform's future (and as noted, given the wording of the announcement on the Vine blog, there appears to have been some internal conflict about this also). Engage will also be an interesting feature to test out to see what data it provides.
Twitter's longer videos are available from today, Watch Mode is rolling out 'soon', longer Vines are being trialled with a select group of creators before rolling out more widely while the new Engage app is available from today for iOS users in the US.