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Video marketing – the battle for brevity

Social & Digital

Video marketing – the battle for brevity


This guest post is by Tom Ollerton, global marketing director for We Are Social.


It’s generally agreed that the fairly recent success of short form video content apps, such as Instagram Video, Snapchat and Vine, is down to our shrinking attention spans. But are our attention spans really getting that much shorter? I haven’t noticed FIFA announcing that football matches will be cut in half or that the movie industry is declining because teens are walking out after six seconds due to boredom.

In actual fact, we’re still very capable of concentrating on long form video content when we choose to. The difference is that now we have so much content available to us, that we are much more selective on what we watch, and for how long we concentrate on it. We have a greater choice as to what content we give our attention to.

Video itself has always been a popular, and a powerful marketing tool. Humans communicate primarily through sound and vision, and because video is the closest communication format to this that advertisers can use, it’s the holy grail of emotional impact.

Video is perfectly suited to storytelling and so, can be used to create an emotional resonance than an image couldn’t. Of course, in order to make this impact, the content needs to be right; relevant and interesting. When this is done well, it’s hugely powerful.

However, traditionally, video has been a rich man’s game. The cost of producing video content could gobble up a modest social media budget very quickly. And then, there’s no guarantee that the videos will be a success – particularly in such a crowded market – and if it isn’t, the money has still been spent.

And herein liert form video. And I do mean short – Instagram gives you 15 seconds, Snapchat allows you up to ten. Twitters the success of sho -owned Vine gives you just six.

These are the three major players in the short form field currently experiencing huge success. By nature, it’s far less expensive to produce than its long form counterpart, it encourages experimentation and allows brands to be more reactive and more relevant. This is why it’s become so popular, so quickly.

Last year it was reported that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg approached Snapchat with a acquisition offer above $1 billion, exactly what Facebook paid to acquire Instagram. These are relatively new platforms, but ones that attract astronomical valuations. And for good reason.

Snapchat users are, as of April 2014 sending 400 million messages per day. That’s up from 200 million in June 2013. And increasingly, brands are using Snapchat as part of their social media strategies. It has proven, just as Instagram did, that while Facebook is clearly a massive presence in social media, that size has also transformed it into a slow moving oil tanker of a business – at least compared to its younger counterparts.

There is always opportunity for new platforms to create impressive userbases that take market share from the commonly accepted mainstream social media platforms.

Doritos and Oreo’s Vines are great examples of brands using short form video to further build on their existing relationship with their fans. The videos are chatty, funny, punchy and seasonal. Recent research showed that humorous video content receives a much higher engagement rate than its non-humorous counterpart, so these hit the mark.

MTV has experimented with Instagram Video and Snapchat (for which it was an early adopter), receiving wide industry plaudits for its forward thinking, brave marketing strategy. The NBA demonstrates well how effective Instagram’s 15-second videos can be, revealing behind the scenes insights and recording iconic moments for the die hard fans to replay over, and over, again.

Of course, compared to the long form video content consumers are used to seeing historically, production values have definitely slipped. Vines, Instagram Videos and Snapchats are not polished and the footage often looks shaky.

While consumers will accept a certain level of authenticity, short form video is not an excuse for poor quality footage. While it’s different, it should not be worse. Marketers should be just as happy to show short form video content to their board as its long form counterpart.

For now, I’m happy to see brands trying their hand at something new, and emerging platforms growing and flourishing. Social media welcomes and embraces innovation, and is probably more accepting of experimentation than any other industry. And I predict that it won’t be long before Snapchat’s founders are on the receiving end of a well-earned fortune.


Tom Ollerton is global marketing director for We Are Social.


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