An Instagram photo carries a certain artificial heft to it. There’s a sense of importance, or at least permanence, to the photos we post to these accounts that you don’t get from tweets or even status updates on Facebook.
Instagram isn’t naturally this way; it’s developed this weight because everything on Instagram is beautiful. And with the addition of video, we’ve got a wonderful opportunity to make the platform more interesting — but we have to be careful.
One of the great joys of Instagram until now has been the lazy scroll. Fire up the app, and just swipe and swipe and swipe and passively take it all in while the colours and shapes sail past your eyes. You pause every so often to like something or make a comment, but the pleasure is never interrupted. The problem of video was apparent when, immediately after getting video, people started posting videos of their desks (a phenomenon we also saw with Vine).
Video is a different medium than photography, and if we start taking videos on Instagram the way we have for YouTube, Snapchat, Vine, et al, our feeds will become polluted with crap. Because unlike those other services, there’s already something in place that we like a lot.
Here are a few simple tips to keep the quality high.
Don’t broadcast, curate
People have been posting videos to the Internet forever, and the last thing we need is just another place to post videos of your view out the window while you’re driving down the highway or waiting in line at the post office. Instagram is everyone’s prettiest corner of the internet, free from the clutter and noise of other areas, generally just more beautiful and thoughtful. When you go back to your Instagram history it should be a museum-grade gallery of awesome.
Which is easy to say! But the message, basically, is to treat videos with just as much scrutiny as you’d use for an image on Instagram.
15 seconds is, like, an Internet eternity
This is critical. Let’s try to keep our videos concise. You don’t need to use the full 15-seconds just because you can. It’s tempting to just sit there and record and record. Think about the terse eloquence of gifs. Don’t waste my time. You don’t want someone to sit there for 15 seconds and then feel pissed off.
Only post things that can lick themselves
It’s a well established fact that sunsets, food, and animals are the ideal subject matter for Instagram photos. This is not the case for video. If I’m deliberately watching a video on the Internet, there better be at least the possibility that whatever I’m looking will at some point be licking something else or licking itself. If not, I’m not interested in looking at for more than one frame. That means only take videos of pets. And maybe people. Possible exceptions for food items that are at risk of exploding, collapsing or contain moving pieces.
User Manual is Gizmodo’s guide to etiquette.