Twitter takes wraps off native video feature

Social media platform steps up to YouTube and Facebook in video space, also launches private group messaging.

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

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 roll out video for iPhone devices over the next few days, 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 a Timeline and appear as a thumbnail preview, which will play when tapped.  

In addition to the video rollout, Twitter also unveiled its 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 product development.

Vine, which has proven popular among users and brands, has a six-second format and, unlike Instagram, requires download 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, SVP and head of strategy and innovation at Carat told Campaign. "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, EVP and director of integrated production at BBDO New York, said Twitter video could spark very different behavior 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, partner and strategy director at AnalogFolk pointed out that a lot of 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 originally appeared on Campaign US.

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