Last week, I spoke about Unlocking the Secrets of Mobile Video: YouTube, Instagram, and Vine at SES Chicago 2013. Spoiler alert: Regular readers of ReelSEO already know that I’m going to resist the temptation to pick a winner in the horse race between video apps, especially since the steeplechase in making short-form videos is barely out of the gate.

And I still believe that the right strategy for internet marketers and video content producers is to select “horses for courses.” In other words, you should select different solutions to engage audiences and customers in different ways, based on your marketing objective. There’s just one teensy-weensy problem with this strategy. It means you need to master not one, but three different video apps: YouTube Capture, Instagram, and Vine. Let’s look at each of the apps in question.

YouTube Capture, Version 1.6.0

YouTube Capture is ready to record as soon as you open it. The app will remind you to rotate your phone to a horizontal position for filming, so your videos look high-quality and free of “Vertical Video Syndrome.” If you have a shaky hand or bad lighting when recording your video, then you can touch it up easily with enhancements like color correction and stabilization. Or, you can trim the length and add free background music from YouTube.

YouTube Capture 1

You can use the YouTube Capture app on your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and iPad mini. YouTube is also working to bring the app to Android in the future. When you’re done filming, write a caption, select which networks you want to share to, and hit Share. You can upload videos to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ simultaneously. Even if you minimize the app, the video will keep uploading in the background.

Instagram, Version 4.2.6

When you go to take a photo on Instagram, you now see a movie camera icon. Tap it to enter video mode, where you can take up to 15 seconds of video through the Instagram camera. You can customize your videos with more than a dozen filters built specifically for Video on Instagram. When you post a video, you are also able to select your favorite scene from what you’ve recorded as your cover image.

Instagram 2

Instagram for iOS version 4.2.6 is available for download in Apple’s App Store and Instagram for Android version 4.2.2 is available on Google Play. If you’re taking videos on the go, you might find that they’re a little shaky. For iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, Instagram has built a Cinema feature that lets you stabilize your video after you take it. You can also instantly share videos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare.

Vine, Version 1.4.3

Vine is a mobile service that lets you create and share short looping videos. Vine believes the constraint of a making a six-second video inspires creativity. You don’t need a Twitter account to use Vine, but signing up is a little quicker if you do. Vine now supports Android 4.0 and higher as well as iOS 5.0 or later. You can now shoot Vines with the front-facing camera as well as the regular camera.

Vine 3

You can instantly post videos on Vine, then share to Twitter and Facebook (more coming soon). You can now embed Vine posts on the web. You can now explore trending posts, featured hashtags and editor’s picks. Vine now supports mentions, so you can tag people in your post. Vine recently introduced new grid, focus, and ghost tools; 15 channels including comedy, music and nature; people on the rise; revining; and protected posts.

Now, I’m confident that you’re up to the challenge of mastering three different video apps. But, the biggest hurdles aren’t learning what’s new in Version 1.6.0 of YouTube Capture, Version 4.2.6 of Instagram, or Version 1.4.3 of Vine. All of us have learned how to adapt rapidly to the latest developments at YouTube and the other disruptive changes in video marketing, or we wouldn’t still be here.

Calvinball: Making Up The Rules As You Go Along 

As I wrote in the second edition of my book, YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day, everyone in this field “feels like they’re playing Calvinball, the game invented by Bill Watterson in his comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. According to Hobbes, ‘No sport is less organized than Calvinball.’ Or, as…Calvin observed, ‘The only permanent rule in Calvinball is that you can’t play it the same way twice!’”


By the way, the second edition of my book was published two years ago on Nov. 1, 2011. And I calculate that 7 out of the 11 chapters are now out-of-date. So, this isn’t a lame attempt to get you to buy my step-by-step guide, which should have a use by date on it like the one that’s required on packaged perishable foods.

What I’m trying to say is this: If you’ve already learned all the important tips, best practices, and strategies compiled in Version 4 of YouTube’s Creator Playbook, then you already know how to play Calvinball. You’re like Rosalyn, Calvin’s baby-sitter, who plays in return for Calvin doing his homework, and plays very well once she realizes that “you make up the rules as you go.”

This also means that you’ve figured out that the biggest obstacles in the Invisible Sector, Perimeter of Wisdom, or Pernicious Poem Place aren’t the Babysitter Flag, Opposite Pole, or Time-Fracture Wickets. No, you realize that the real challenge in this contest of wits and creativity is finding a never-ending stream of new ideas week in and week out. That’s hard.

The Unruly Zone

So, let me share a secret with you that I shared last week with the attendees of my session at SES Chicago. It’s the blog that I visit three times a week to get inspired. Since it doesn’t seem to have an official name, let’s call it the Unruly Zone. Each Wednesday, Scott Mitchell of Unruly Media writes a new post with the never-changing headline, “6 Branded Vines You Should Watch Right Now.” As Mitchell explained last week, “Vine is hotter than a cat on a hot tin roof at the moment. However, with a wash of short-form content engulfing the Open Web, it’s not always easy to find the cream of the crop. So if you’re looking for quality inspiration, then look no further. In just 36 short seconds, you’ll know which brands are doing Vine just right.” 

On Thursdays, Eddie Tomalin of Unruly Media writes a new post with the evergreen headline, “5 Branded Instagram Videos You Should Watch Right Now.” As Tomalin wrote last week, “The world of short-form video content has set the Open Web alight. With Instagram and Vine boasting more than 200 million active users between them, advertisers have been quick to follow, with 40% of the most shared Instagram content now coming from brands. With so much branded content floating around, sometimes it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. So every week we pick out our favourite branded Instagram video content. In just three minutes, you’ll know which brands’ videos are making waves.”

And every Friday, David Waterhouse of Unruly Media writes a new post with the standing headline, “Friday Round-Up: 5 New Video Ads You Should Watch Right Now.” As Waterhouse observed last week, “‘Twas the month before Christmas in ads ‘cross the net, festivities had begun and shares they did get. Yes, AdLand has been getting in the festive spirit this week, with LEGO and John Lewis both starring in our pick of the five best ads across the web.”

Okay, so the headlines of these posts aren’t as unique as the body copy. But the compelling content that brings me back week after week are the latest videos. Watching them gives me far more insights per fortnight than I get from visiting YouTube Trends. Created by YouTube in December 2010, YouTube Trends was supposed to be “a resource for daily insight into what’s happening in web video.” And about once a month, it delivers on that promise. So, by all means, visit YouTube Trends…occasionally. But, check out the Unruly Zone once a week. In the words of Robert F. Kennedy, the blog can inspire you to “dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”