Twitter unveils native video feature

Twitter has unveiled its first native video application, which allows users to shoot, edit and share videos from within its mobile app.

Twitter: introduced native video ads
Twitter: introduced native video ads

Until now, users have only been able to create and share videos using Twitter’s six-second app, Vine. The new video tool will allow users to shoot videos up to 30 seconds long, which is double the length of Instagram videos.

Twitter will be rolling out video for iPhone devices over the next few days and with plans to launch on Android "soon".

In a blog post today, Twitter said it has made the feature simple to use. "In just a few taps you can add a video to unfolding conversations, share your perspective of a live event, and show your everyday moments instantly, without ever having to leave the app," it wrote. Unlike Facebook video, Twitter videos will not autoplay in the Timeline and appear as a thumbnail preview, which will play when tapped.  

— Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH) January 27, 2015

In addition to the video rollout, Twitter also unveiled its new groups feature, which enables users to send private messages to a group of up to 20 people. This feature puts Twitter on more of an even footing with Facebook and its popular WhatsApp messaging app. Twitter users in a group do not all need to follow each other to participate in the conversation.

Twitter’s video announcement has been hotly anticipated, since it unveiled plans for a native tool last June. A criticism leveled at Twitter over the past few years is that it has trailed competitors when it comes to new product development. 

While Vine, which has proven popular among users and brands, Twitter’s six-second format has its limitations and, unlike Instagram, requires users to download it as a separate app, creating a barrier to easy entrance. 

Social video space heats up

Earlier this month, Campaign asked ad industry experts whether Twitter had the opportunity to become a formidable player in the social video space, particularly with Facebook making big strides in video over the past year.

"It’s not a matter of if, but when Twitter will become a serious contender in the video space," Justine Bloome, the senior vice president, head of strategy and innovation at Carat, told Campaign US

"Twitter undeniably owns real-time news – it’s the channel for breaking news and cultural commentary. Video could feasibly double Twitter’s user base in a short period of time." 

Dave Rolfe, the executive vice president, director of integrated production, BBDO New York, said that Twitter video could spark some very different behaviour on the largely text-based platform. 

"It would certainly seem it could work well as an "immediate-time" video aggregator. It may also see evolved uses on the platform per tagging and metadata, because video is an inherently different experience on a platform like Twitter," he said. 

While YouTube has dominated the video space for many years, Zach Pentel, a partner and strategy director, AnalogFolk, pointed out that a lot YouTubers use it as merely a hosting platform for videos meant for their Twitter following. "Users will love mobile video capture," he said.

This story was originally posted on Campaign US