Friday Nov 01, 2013

Let Me Show You Something: Instagram, Vine and Snapchat for Brands

PhotographerWhile brands are well aware of how much more impactful images are than text-only posts on social channels, today you’re additionally being presented with platform after additional platform for hosting, doctoring and sharing photos and videos.  Can you play in every sandbox? And if you do, can you be brilliant on all of them?


As has usually been the case, so far brands are sticking their toes into new platforms while not actually committing to them, or strategizing for them, or resourcing them. TrackMaven found of the 123 F500 companies using Instagram, only 22% of them are active on it.


Likewise, research from Simply Measured found brands are indeed jumping in, with the number establishing a presence on Instagram up 55% over the past year. Users want them there…brand engagement has exploded 350%, and over 1/3 of the top brands have at least 10,000 followers. BUT…the top 10 brands are generating 33% of all posts, reaping 83% of all engagement.


Things are also growing on Twitter’s Vine, the 6-second looping video app that hit 40 million users in August. The 7th Chamber says 5 tweets a second contain a Vine link. Other studies say branded Vines are 4 times more likely to be shared and seen than rank-and-file branded videos. Why? Users know that even if a video is pure junk, they won’t get robbed of too much of their valuable time.


Vine is always upgrading so you can make sure your videos are worth viewers’ time. You can now edit videos, and save & work on several projects concurrently. What you can’t do is upload a finely crafted video into Vine, but you can do that with Instagram. The key to success? Same as with all other content; make it of value. Deliver a laugh or a lesson or both. How-to, behind the scenes peeks, contests, demos, all make sense in the short video format.


Or follow Nash Grier’s example, which is to just have fun with and connect to your viewers, earning their trust that your next Vine will be as good as the last. Nash is only 15, has over 1.4 million followers, and adds about 100,000 a week. He broke out when one of his videos was re-Vined by some other kid with 300,000 followers. Make good stuff, get it in front of influencers, and your brand Vines could break out as well.


Then there’s Snapchat, the “this photo will self destruct” platform. How can that be of use to brands besides offering coupons that really expire? The jury is out. But with an audience of over 100 million and a valuation of $800 million, media-with-a-time-limit is compelling. Now there’s “Snapchat Stories” that can last 24 hours and be shared to the public at large. You might be able to capitalize on how much more focus gets put on content when there’s a time limit on its availability.


The underlying truth to all of this is, these are all tools. Very cool, feature rich tools, but tools. You can give the exact same art kit to 5 different people and you’d get back 5 very different works, ranging from worthless garbage to masterpiece. Brands are being called upon to be still and moving image artists. That’s what your customers are used to seeing, from a variety of sources. Commit to communicating with them accordingly.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Mar 01, 2013

Will You Wither on the Vine?

grapesNow that Vine, the video app acquired by Twitter in October 2012, has had time to apply some updates, reach proper levels of usage and absorb feedback, where might it wind up on the “Scale of Social Importance” for brands? (There is no such scale. I totally made it up.)

Vine takes the concept of restricting content exhibited in the Twitter character limit, and applies it to video. Vine videos don’t go beyond 6 seconds. They’re looped, meaning they automatically repeat, not unlike the animated GIFs so iconic of Tumblr. And they do begin playing automatically.

But the bottom line is, you have 6 seconds to thrill, entertain, amuse, inform, and communicate your message. The adoption of Vine videos further illustrates how the public has been telling us they want to consume content. They like video…and they like it to be easy to make, easy to watch, and easy to share. Vine speaks to all these things.

Which plops the ball right back in our court as brands. We have to decide if we’re going to play by the consumer’s rules and make the kind of content they like, on the platforms they like, or not.

If production costs are why your brand hasn’t gotten deep into generating video for your social channels, Vine takes away some of that argument. The audience isn’t necessarily looking for “slick” or big budget. They don’t expect George Clooney to appear in your Vine video. You simply record by holding down a button on your device, starting and stopping if you like, until your 6 seconds is up.

The end result looks like something like these examples of Vine video.

We’re still a ways from seeing if user-generated Vine videos can be monetized with ads from us marketers. An AdAge article poses the absurdity of putting a 15-second pre-roll in front of content that’s only 6 seconds. Frankly, there are those that argue such pre-rolls in front of 1:15 videos on YouTube exceed the proper limits of exasperation. But there they are.

Aside from UGC Vine video contests, that leaves brand-created videos holding the most “marketing usage of Vine” potential. Notice how every hot trend and advancement in social points in the same direction? Content and creativity is everything.

With that truth embraced, your awesome Vine videos can be shared to fans and followers on Vine, Facebook and Twitter. They can find additional exposure on a variety of different startups that focus on Vine video discovery and search-ability. These create environments of channel surfing on steroids, short-attention-span theatre.

The differentiator between success and failure for brands is the same as for rank and file users - imagination. Many Vine videos are awful, a complete waste of the viewer’s valuable 6 seconds. Co-founder of Viddy, JJ Aguhob, points out there’s a diminishing pool of quality content for an ever-expanding audience. That’s spells opportunity for your brand to be one of the more valued Vine video content providers.

The job is really the same as it’s always been on social - keep the content relevant, cool, and worthwhile. Vine is simply another new, albeit shorter, way to do that.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

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