Instagram for video debuted just last week, and the reactions seemed pretty mixed at the time — some people liked it, some people hated it, and some people said they’d never watch your Instagram videos no matter how hard you tried. But with the first weekend of brunches under our belts, it’s clear that one of the major complaints when it comes to video on Instagram is the quality of videos compared to what we’ve come to expect with photos.
So not surprisingly, the company is doling out tips to make your videos a little better. In a blog post on Sunday, the company explained how to play videos with the sound on, since a lot of people didn’t understand why they were silent. For many users like myself, whose phones are permanently set to silent or vibrate, this might have been a surprise:
Damn – scrolling through @instagram feed is a noisy affair. Play back of videos unleashes sound effects that are wild.
— Om Malik (@om) June 20, 2013
Instagram also spelled out how to turn off auto-play, which not everyone loves:
The new auto-play video feature on #Instagram is obnoxious. Nothing like blaring random video from my phone in public.
— Katie Daly (@_BigWhiteYeti) June 24, 2013
And on Tuesday, they provided a series of tips on how to record videos that don’t suffer from poor lighting, strange compositions, and jostling recordings, which has a significant effect on the quality of the videos posted:
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) June 22, 2013
But it seems the primary complaint when it comes to Instagram video is that people expected one thing from photos on Instagram, and now videos deliver an entirely different experience. Jenna Wortham called it the “death of fantasy,” where videos reveal ugly reality instead of the perfectly-composed life we’re used to presenting through social media. John Gruber wrote that Instagram only launched the feature to spite Twitter and Vine, and that the addition makes the experience much worse, due to things like autoplay and slow speeds. And in a quick survey of ten of my friends who use Instagram, every one responded negatively, saying they try to skip or avoid the videos when they see them.
So even if users get past the technical hurdles of posting a video, will that solve some of the more philosophical complaints about photos versus videos on the service? It’s obvious when I’m scrolling through my feed what is a photo and what is a video — not because of the video icon, but because photos are usually beautifully composed and the video screen grabs are fuzzy and awkward. So helping people understand how to frame and compose a shot would help — but Instagram still might want to consider whether its 130 million monthly users could be in danger of bailing now that videos are clogging their feeds.