Facebook is hosting a small event Thursday at 1 p.m. EDT at its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to unveil a secret “new product.” While details have been limited, IBTimes predicted last week that Facebook will show off new video capabilities for Instagram.
In a decidedly retro move, Facebook sent out mysterious paper invitations to the event via snail mail last Thursday, asking a small group of the tech community to come in for coffee and learn about a new product.
“A small team has been working on a big idea,” Facebook’s invitation read.
The product will most likely be Facebook’s response to Twitter’s Vine app. Vine allows users to take short video clips with their mobile device and easily share them through social networks. It has been used creatively by artists and brands alike, and recently overtook Instagram in shares. In just six months since its initial release -- which was only for Apple's iPhone until June -- Vine has built a community of 13 million. It took Instagram more than a year to attract that many users.
Matthew Keys leaked that Facebook was testing a Vine-like version of Instagram that captures and uploads five- to 10-second videos. Few details were available other than that.
IBTimes expects Facebook to add video functionality to Instagram rather than release an entirely new app. Users would just have one more reason to stay on Instagram rather than have to download yet another app and build up yet another social network.
It also makes sense from a business point of view. Although Facebook doesn’t run advertisements on Instagram, many businesses use it "organically" as a way to engage consumers.
“Facebook is sitting on a sleeping giant in video advertising,” Rob Jewell, the CEO of Spruce Media, a Facebook Marketing agency, told IBTimes. Jewell suggested that Facebook could use video to keep Instagram ad-free by inserting video ads into Instagram videos that get shared on Facebook. It could also promote Instagram videos from brands in users’ news feeds. “We believe that in 2014 Facebook will make a big play in video advertising, and while they are already sitting on a tremendous amount of video, adding video in Instagram would surely increase that inventory significantly.”
Of course, there is always the chance the mysterious invitations were just red herrings to distract tech journalists from another announcement. IBTimes will have full coverage of whatever it is Facebook announces as soon as the event wraps up.