Sink or Swim: Instagram Influencers Jump Ship for New Mobile Video App, Oflo

It seemed odd. One of my favorite Instagram content producers, @BlameitonKway (an account with over 1 million followers that has been mentioned in the mainstream media and by celebs like Rihanna and Kyle Jenner), suddenly and without explanation, deleted his most recent video skits.

The question of why he deleted his content nagged me (mostly because I’m a fan, but also because I intuitively knew there had to be a business reason behind him pulling videos that had already gained over 100,000 views each — the content marketer in me cringed).

Here’s what I found out shortly afterwards:

  • A new mobile video app called Oflo, which claims to offer users “Exclusive content from some of your favorite Viners and IG’rs coming exclusively to Oflo,” launched quietly on March 24 (iPhone only).
  • This is Oflo’s official pitch to Instagram Influencers: “some of you guys have been making classic content for years and haven’t received anything. the game has changed “Oflo” now offers the opportunity for content creators to get a fair shake and earn money for their hard work!
  • Oflo (developed by StarClub Ltd., which specializes in “star-centric technologies” that monetizes connecting stars with their fans) has lured some of Instagram’s most popular content producers who create original comedy videos, popular in the black community on Instagram, for exclusive video content deals on their new platform. The Influencers are not only pulling recent videos from their Instagram accounts and posting it on Oflo, they’re promoting the platform heavily to their Instagram audience in a PR campaign by Oflo.

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Oflo’s plan to siphon and monetize video content from Instagram Influencers in a revenue-share model brings up a litany of questions:

  • How will they guarantee content producers substantial enough profit to offset losing views and influence on Instagram (keep in mind all of these influencers are also earning money on Instagram promoting products to their audience)?
  • Are they planning to use an advertising model like YouTube (which has proven to be as much of a bust for most YouTube producers as it has for streaming services for music artists)?
  • Can Instagram Influencers serve two masters (presumably, they’ll be promoting both Instagram, where they have photo content and sponsorship deals, and Oflo at the same time)?
  • Do we really need another mobile video platform?

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The timing of all of this is interesting, to say the least, and ideally opportunistic for Oflo considering how much Instagram Influencers freaked out this past week over the announcement of Instagram’s soon-to-be-implemented algorithmic feed. The algorithmic feed (like Facebook’s feed) would make organically reaching an audience far more difficult for content producers which, ultimately, hurts them financially since they get paid by brands to promote products to their audience. Many Influencers took to Instagram in a panic and pleaded with their followers to “turn on notifications” so that they don’t miss their updates — it was Instagram-Amageddon).

I downloaded Oflo and fiddled with it for a few minutes. I can’t say that I’m impressed with the UI/UX. The app also crashed on me twice. But, truth be told, it was actually quite nice to have so many of Instagram’s quality content producers (the cool kids of Instagram) all in one place. Of course, Instagram can undermine this entirely by simply adding a function that allows Users to curate their own “favorites” groups — but that’s not likely to happen any time soon (if at all).

Most of all, from a content engagement standpoint, being able to view long-form videos that, on Instagram, would typically have to be cut into numerous 15-second clips is a big (and surprising) plus. I read quite a few comments from Users on Oflo mentioning confessing their love for the longer-video format. This, coupled with Instagram’s recent move to longer video uploads (1-minute) makes you wonder — are we seeing the rise of longer-form video in mobile?

What’s the verdict? It’s, of course, too early to tell. My inclination is to say that any company looking to get into the mobile video space now is crazy (especially as direct competition to Instagram). Having said that, Oflo has already accomplished a seemingly impossible feat — getting some of the most popular Instagram comedians to move their content from Instagram, exclusively to Oflo.

In these disgruntled times when all social platforms are switching to an algorithmic, pay-to-play model (at the expense of content creators who helped build the platforms), there may still be plenty of opportunities for platforms like Oflo, targeting niche markets, to grow a community, make money, and keep content producers happy.

There’s four words you don’t see together often: “keep content producers happy”. Dare we dream?



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