Can Video Get Some Instagram-Like Love?

The next wave of social video apps

A startup’s best friend can be its elevator pitch. Here’s one: We’re like Instagram but for video. That best describes the recent eruption of social video apps that let users post videos via smartphones for anyone to follow. But with brands still wrapping their heads around Instagram itself, is there an appetite for the video version?

Two high-profile apps, Socialcam and Viddy, suggest there may be. Socialcam has an estimated 40 million or so users, per reports (the company wouldn’t comment). Viddy has more than 28 million, said CEO and co-founder Brett O’Brien, and he expects that number to surge when the app arrives on Android devices this summer. While brands may be wary of working with early-stage startups, O’Brien said, “I can’t get through my emails fast enough in terms of brands. Like, General Electric just set up an account. They have two Viddys they’ve already posted, and they have 4,300 followers.”

Diane von Furstenberg, last year’s The Muppets movie and Southwest Airlines have also used the app, but the biggest brand yet to hit the platform may be Justin Bieber, who racked up more than 30,000 followers in less than a day. (However, it’s hard to find any brands using Socialcam just yet.)

Nathaniel Perez, SapientNitro’s global head of social media, thinks it’s still too early for brands to flock to these apps because it’s harder to get people engaged with video than photos. “I think there’s even lower interest at this point in any kind of activity or integration unless, of course, it becomes a way to tap into [user-generated content],” he said. “But then, why not leverage YouTube?”