Boomerang Video App: What It Is – and How to Use It

Think ‘Boomerang’ and you might first think of the Australian throwing tool, famously designed to return to the thrower – used for centuries for hunting, sport and entertainment.

But in this article we want to talk about the other type of Boomerang whose name it inspired!

What is Boomerang?

Boomerang is a standalone video app – created and released by Instagram in October 2015 – which lets you create short, repeating video ‘loops.’ 

Just as a boomerang reaches its target, then starts to reverse back in the direction it came from – so does a Boomerang video.

The app captures one second of silent video which is played forward, then in reverse three times. This creates a six second loop that can be shared or downloaded as a video. 

They’re kind of like GIFs – but whereas GIFs play from beginning to end, then start again from the beginning – like the Boomerangs play to the end then play in reverse, and it can create some really quirky content!

“Capture a friend jumping off a diving board, defying physics as she flies back and forth through the air,” Instagram said in a blog post about Boomerang. 

“Transform an ordinary selfie with your friends into a funny video. Get that exact moment your friend blows out his birthday candles, then watch them come back to life again and again.”

And this sums up the appeal of Boomerang: it’s simply another way to bring fun and dynamism to your social output. 

And although Boomerang is an Instagram tool – it’s not just for Instagram!

Videos created in Boomerang save to your gallery and can be shared pretty much wherever you like, making this app a must-have addition to your video toolkit.

Over the years, they’ve even added new effects, including:

  • SlowMo – Slow your Boomerangs down to half-speed so they play for two seconds in each direction instead of one second. 
  • Echo – A sort of ‘double vision’ effect which adds a motion blur, so a trail appears behind anything that’s moving.
  • Duo – Quickly rewinds the clip to the beginning in a glitchy, old-fashioned way.
  • Trimming – A basic editing feature that lets you edit the length of your Boomerang, and change the start/end points.(This one’s available through all the above effects.)

Business examples

There are loads of examples of people using Boomerangs – you can get plenty of inspo by running the hashtag #loopedbyboomerang on Instagram, or following the Boomerang account itself at @boomerangfrominstagram.

But what about some businesses rocking it with Boomerangs?

Timberland

This simple clip shows a user flicking through the Timberland catalogue.

It’s a nicely framed shot with the rustic wooden desk, and it serves to remind the viewer that Timberland…y’know…has a catalogue, that they might want to check out!

Purina

What could be more social-friendly than an office dog?! Purina’s resident good boy Lenny gets some airtime here, showing off his tricks (and then those tricks in reverse, thanks to Boomerang!) 

The product is nowhere to be seen, but this is a good example of how Boomerangs (and Instagram in general) can help enhance the general ‘vibe’ of a brand.

Cosmopolitan

Openly admitting they’re simply testing out the Boomerang feature, the guys at Cosmo go for the cool visual effect of a bubblegum bubble.

The Verge

A cool example here from The Verge Showing off the Microsoft Surface Book. As a technology blog, this is a really nice way to use motion to demonstrate a nifty product feature. 

Taco Bell

This super-simple post combines product visuals with quirky offbeat brand messaging to subtly drive home the message: this is food so delicious, people are gonna wanna steal it!

McDonalds

Well…ok, it’s Ronald McDonald, to be precise. (We suppose this is, like, his personal account?) 

Wyzowl

Hey, we can give anyone we want a shout-out here. Why not give ourselves one?

No overthinking here: this post is nothing more than a cool way to show off the creative vibe of our office and have a little fun.

How to use Boomerang

Ok, you’re sold, and you want to get started. So let’s get into it: there are two ways to create and share Boomerangs.

From within the Boomerang app…

  1. Download and open the Boomerang App from the App Store or Google Play.
Boomerang Instagram download
  1. The app is super-simple. All you need to do is hold the record button in the bottom centre of the screen, and the app will start to record.
Boomerang for Instagram
  1. You don’t have to use the full recording time – but as soon as you hold the button, you’ll see the wheel start to fill up to show how long you’ve got left. When this wheel’s full, recording automatically stops and you see a preview of your Boomerang.
Boomerang for Instagram
  1. You then have the option to either Save to your gallery (top-right) or share directly to Facebook, Instagram or ‘Other’ – which can include WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms.
Boomerang for Instagram

From within Instagram…

Somewhat counterintuitively, you actually get a much deeper and richer experience using Boomerang directly through Instagram.

1. Open the Instagram app and sign in. 

2. In the top-left corner of the screen hit the ‘+’ ‘Your story’ icon. 

Instagram app

3. Hit the dropdown button and select ‘Boomerang’ from the list of options.

Instagram

4. As you do in the Boomerang app, point your phone and hold the ‘Boomerang’ icon in the centre of the screen. 

Boomerang for Instagram

5. Watch the time wheel fill up. Once it’s full, your recording is complete and will stop automatically. Alternatively you can release the button at any time to stop recording right away – although shorter recordings can make weaker clips.

Boomerang for Instagram

6. Your Boomerang clip preview will display. Unlike in the app – where your only option if you don’t like the clip is to re-record – you can click the Boomerang icon (circled below) to unlock further editing options.

Instagram Boomerang icon

These include the features we mentioned earlier – Echo, Slowmo and Duo.

Boomerang for Instagram

There’s also the option to ‘trim’ your clip using the timeline at the bottom, changing the start or end points to further finesse your Boomerang.

7. Once you’re done editing, hit ‘Done’ and you have the usual editing options you’d expect for any Instagram story. Add stickers, GIFs, text captions, music and edit the visuals.

8. Add the Boomerang to your Story – or use the ‘Save’ feature to download your.

Types of Boomerangs to try

There are a lot of different things you can use Boomerang for, but as a starting point, why not try…

  • Product shots: clips that zoom in/zoom out of your product, or show it in use?
  • Behind the scenes: cool clips and scenes from within your office or manufacturing HQ.
  • Lifestyle/inspiration: shots, like Purina’s Lenny, that simply represent the lifestyle/vibe that your brand stands for. 
  • Cool, interesting visual stuff! Frankly, Boomerang works great for things that just look cool and interesting. We’ll talk more about this in the next section!

Tips and best practices

Here are some things to keep in mind when creating Boomerangs for your brand…

1. Keep it simple, stupid!

For such a simple app it can be surprisingly complex and difficult! 

Elaborate Boomerangs can look great, but they’re difficult to setup, and – because of the miniscule amount of time you have to work with, things can move so fast that the message of the clip doesn’t sink in.

Focus on simple, subtle movements, and don’t try to cram too much into your allotted time.

2. Remember the loop!

Try to finish your clip in a different place to where you started. For example, zooming in on a product, don’t zoom in AND out, it’ll move far too quickly. 

Trying to start and end at the same point is good advice for creating GIFs,  but it actually loses a large part of what makes Boomerangs unique.

3. Look for cool, interesting moments!

A particularly good tip for Boomerangs is to try to think about the things that look weird in reverse.

Going back up a slide….

The rolling waves being pulled back out to sea…

Milk being added (and then taken out) from a coffee…

Someone ‘falling’ from the ground to their feet…

These are the small but joyful little moments you can create when Boomerang’s at its most powerful!

4. Keep your phone steady

Lots of phone movement diminishes the movement of the shot itself, so hold it steady – use a tripod if you want the best results!

5. Think about the peak moment

Since you only get 1 second, think about the moment that’s important – the moment you hit the water, the confetti is thrown, etc. – and make sure you capture that!

6. Share wider afield

Ultimately, although this is an Instagram-created tool, the clips you create are NOT limited to use on Instagram. 

So share on other social channels and see what sort of response you get!

Thanks for reading!

So there you have it, a crash course in Boomerang marketing.

Bottom line? This fun, cool little app isn’t going to revolutionise your marketing: but it’s definitely a nice little tool to diversify your output and have a little extra fun with your social content.

Good luck!