According to the old adage, a picture is worth 1,000 words. But what about a six-second video? Or an impeccably curated pinboard?
A host of new photo and video-sharing platforms—and the evolving universe of digital devices that enable them—are opening up new opportunities for marketers to engage consumers. But like many forms of “new media” before them, apps like Instagram, Pinterest and Vine (Twitter’s six-second video app) demand that brands embrace new forms of communicating.
Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are now pillars of every brand’s social footprint, but it wasn’t so long ago that likes, shares, user-generated video and 140-character status updates were new to the brand lexicon. Now more than ever, the challenge for brands is to become fluent in the language of visual storytelling—from infographics to photography to short, simple videos.
Since its launch in January, Vine has attracted marketers such as GE, Target, Oreo and Marvel Entertainment (with the world’s first movie “teaser”), who are anxious to gain access to the app’s steadily growing base of 13 million users who share 12 million videos a day.
Not to be outdone, Facebook launched video capabilities on Instagram in June. Users can create and edit 15-second video clips, personalize them with the filters the app is famous for and then post to Instagram and Facebook. Putting this kind of functionality in the hands of Instagram’s 130 million users will only ignite interest in this kind of short-form video. But creating compelling content within this kind of time constraint can be challenging, to say the least.
So how do marketers make the most of these tools?
First, Be an Observer: Look (and listen) before you leap. How are other businesses in your category using the space? Are users already posting about your brand? What are the platform’s unique traits and tools? Vine and Instagram video in particular are still in their infancy. First movers may have the advantage, but if their approaches aren’t right for the brand or venue (see next point), they’ll do more harm than good. So first do your research.
Make It Contextual: These platforms demand a regular stream of engaging content—but make sure your approach is a strategic fit and appropriate for both your brand and the venue(s). Our work for Johnsonville offers a prime example, where we leverage each platform based on what it does best, all working in concert and with a common brand strategy – from the “Share Your #Bratshot” promotion on Instagram to daily Bratfirmations on Pinterest offering grilling quotes, wisdom and humor.
Make It Useful: Don’t just show up to the party – offer guests something of interest or value. Remember: these platforms attract a sought-after, tech-savvy audience that often shun more “traditional,” disruptive forms of marketing. Time spent curating an inspiration board on Pinterest, for instance, is “me” time—not “please bombard me with your brand message” time. Lowe’s strikes the right balance with its helpful how-to vignettes on Vine.
As revolutionary as they seem, these tools are just the tip of the iceberg. In this attention- starved, mobile-first world, marketers will have to become master visual storytellers and more, as new tools and technologies continually redefine how brands connect and communicate with consumers.
Kristin Bloomquist is executive vice president and general manager of the Phoenix office of independent marketing and communications agency Cramer-Krasselt.