9 Tips to Help You Win at Social Video Content

(Published on the Sprinklr blog, 16th Dec 2014)

Eighty-nine million people in the United States will watch 1.2 billion online videos today, but only 24% of brands are using video to market to customers. Social media is now undeniably visual, and the new wave of mobile-first social apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Vine are driving the video revolution alongside Facebook and Twitter.

Fifty-five percent of mobile traffic is now video content. It’s time for brands to catch up with consumers and start making movies.

Here are our nine tricks to keep them watching…

1. Optical Illusion or Reality?

Videos that reveal cleverly constructed optical illusions have gained popularity recently. Often disguised as an unassuming room or situation, all the pieces fit together as the camera slowly lines up the puzzle pieces. A great example is this ad from Apple. Despite some comments that they were copying the band OK Go, known for creating these types of music videos, it still attracted nearly one million views for the brand.

Lacoste also produced an ad in this style for their fragrance, keeping the viewer intrigued until it all becomes clear at the end.

Optical illusions are a good way to combat high drop-off rates and keep the audience hooked right through to the end.

2. Slow it Down and Speed it Up

Perhaps it was the addition of the slo-mo camera function to the iPhone 5s and later models — or YouTube stars such as the Slo Mo Guys and their series of videos — but slow motion has become more prominent this year. It can be a fun way for brands to draw attention to certain features, which lends itself particularly well to food and drinks brands, like Schwartz’s Flavour Shots.

On the flip side, the release of apps like Hyperlapse have meant that time-lapse is also having a moment. Andbrands have been quick to jump on the trend. But why keep the two styles separate? Lurpak’s Cook’s Range TV advert combines a mixture of both slow motion and speed, giving the product a truly heroic feel.

3. Throwback Thursday

With lots of techniques to make videos seem futuristic and ahead of the curve, retro style footage can be one way to help your video be different and attract attention. Different filters (like the ones you can find on Instagram) can give footage a vintage feel. Peugeot opted for a classic, grainy feel in this 1980s-inspired video.

4. The New Educational

How do you breathe fresh life into an instructional video that people have already seen several times before in various shapes or forms? If you’re Virgin America, you add a touch of Glee style singing and humour. And if you’re Air New Zealand, you capitalize on your nation’s biggest export, the world-famous Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, and take your customers on an epic journey.

Functional videos must do more than just educate; they also need to entertain.

5. Micro Video

Longer videos have a higher drop-off rate than shorter ones. That’s a fact. With 20% of viewers losing interest within 10 seconds and around a third of viewers dropping off by the 30-second mark, brands need to be sure to grab their attention right from the start.

You’d be surprised how much you can actually pack into a 15-second Instagram video or 6-second Vine and to tell a story.

6. Go Hard (or Go Home)

GoPros have opened up a new world for video. A GoPro camera can go where normal cameras fear to tread, making it easier to capture footage from great heights to great depths to great speeds. Red Bull has become synonymous with their breath-taking stunts caught on camera.

The camera is small and can be attached securely to a range of objects. This makes it possible to create some really social and engaging videos, provided there is a bit of imagination thrown into the mix. A good example is this viral wedding video, which features (but wasn’t produced by) Fireball whiskey. If only Fireball had thought of it first…

7. A Smarter Point of View

Smart technology has opened our eyes. Google Glass and other wearable technology offers a new perspective for video audiences, even in everyday situations. It gives viewers a sense of being in the moment as opposed to just witnessing it, providing brands with a fantastic opportunity to draw fans in with exclusive behind the scenes content.

This has worked particularly well for fashion brands, like this backstage interview clip. Expect more brands to start experimenting with the capabilities of Google Glass as the technology becomes more readily available.

8. Under the Disguise of Wearable Tech

With smart cameras being so small and concealable, hidden camera pranks are easier to set up and harder to spot. If you strike the right chord, this type of video can be extremely shareable, especially when passers-by show their surprise, like in Pepsi Max’s bus stop takeover.

Hidden camera videos are not just good for a laugh. They can also help prove a point, such as Nestlé’s videofor their #CheckYourSelfie breast cancer awareness campaign which catches people peeping at a woman’s breasts. Or this Hollaback! video which was trending in October, demonstrating how much a women is harassed during 10 hours in New York.

9. Competitions and Challenges

Videos can also be built into brand competitions. This campaign for Swedish department store Åhlén is a good example of this. Participants were given the chance to win products if they were quick enough to screen shot them in a series of fast-paced Instagram videos. Another way to host a video competition is to invite fans to create their own clips — Nissan fans were given the chance to have their videos included in the brand’s next TV ad.

Challenging people to post videos can work well for charity campaigns as well. The hugely successful Ice Bucket Challenge not only encouraged social media users to create their own videos for charity, but the challenges reached brands, their CEOs and mascots too.

Why is Video Taking Over Marketing?

It’s partly demand, but it’s also driven by technology: Improved server storage space, faster broadband, 4G mobile internet, large screen phones and affordable data plans. This allows social platforms to deliver video without it costing too much or grinding their servers to a halt.

Getting Started with Video Marketing

It’s not easy for in-house social media teams to make the jump from images to video content. A good way to test the water is to start small and experiment on a platform like Vine or Snapchat where rough edges and a lo-fi feel are acceptable, rather than starting with a more polished effort on Facebook.