Video micro-content might have seemed like content marketing’s embarrassing little brother at some point — cute yet inconsequential. But times have changed. As smartphone use has ballooned and attention spans have narrowed, creating entertaining clips around a brand’s products or services is becoming increasingly common. At the same time, success isn’t guaranteed. In a recent 2015 outlook, marketing firm MillwardBrown noted that only the most savvy brands will excel at video micro-content. “Ads on these platforms must be immediately captivating and entertaining, as consumers on these sites expect creativity,” the firm wrote. With that in mind, here are five elements any winning clip-based video campaign should prioritize this year.
Determine the Platform
In this post, we’ll focus on three popular video micro-content platforms: Vine, Instagram and Tout. Video micro-content can also take the form of pre-roll ads on other popular video platforms. Admittedly, the word “popular” is something of an overstatement. The Content Marketing Institute recently reported only half of B2C marketers, and one out of every four B2B marketers use Instagram. Meanwhile, just one-fifth of B2C marketers and one-tenth of B2B marketers use Vine. Thus, opportunity awaits marketers who are willing to carve out a niche in this space. Vine is Twitter’s answer to video micro-content and features looping six-second clips brands can use to tell a concise story. In one recent animated Vine from Samsung Mobile US, the company’s Gear S wearable smartwatch takes on the big city:
Instagram is likewise affiliated with social networking behemoth Facebook and permits videos up to 15 seconds. In 2014, Adidas and Champs Sports paired up to make a successful multi-part video series for Instagram called #adicolorTV, which featured professional athletes, rappers and more.
Finally, Tout continues to enjoy a fan following among individuals, celebrities and news media. The Wall Street Journal, for one, actively creates and shares short video clips (up to one minute) from Central Park to Shanghai. To choose which of these three platforms makes sense for your audience, spend time on each platform. Review innovative campaigns such as those above to assess factors such as clip content, length and positioning. In many cases, it makes sense to try each platform simultaneously to determine which will resonate best with your target viewership.
Craft Winning Content
Once you identify which platform(s) to use for your next micro-content video campaign, decide what type of content you should create. For short video bursts, humor works extremely well, noted panelists at a recent Reel Summit video marketing conference. Also consider the audience you’re targeting. Younger consumers who haven’t yet made up their mind about your brand are probably much more willing to share a gag clip or visually compelling montage than older consumers who simply got an Instagram profile to see photos of the grandkids. Meanwhile, if you take the news angle popular among some Tout users, offer to take viewers behind the scenes of your brand. Do you build widgets? Show off the widget factory or do a mini interview with someone who is integral to the process of creating your products.
Take advantage of the editing suite at your disposal. All three platforms enable users to record video in chunks as opposed to a single block of video. That permits brands with the appropriate time and resources to create innovative stop-motion animation in addition to plain old video. Clips can be rearranged and tightened as needed. Be sensitive to the background in your video as well as sound. Vine recommends users try headphones with a built-in microphone to capture audio that isn’t full of clutter. It also advises tripods for high-caliber clips, though the beauty of shooting video with any of these three platforms is the ability to quickly capture and turn around content for a mobile audience. If your brand has a video studio and the right connections, getting celebrity users of your products or services to participate in a campaign might be a real possibility. Do a little leg work and you might be rewarded with viral content at a lower cost relative to other channels. To quote Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg: “If you look in the future a lot of the content that people share will be video. It’s just very compelling.”
Another benefit of producing video micro-content is the ease with which brands and consumers can share the content. Instagram offers some basic-but-great guidelines for effective distribution: including:
- always use hashtags when posting content to the web
- use a compelling cover photo to anchor any packaged micro video content on your respective platform
- blend video with other media you already produce, including photos, to create a seamless brand message
- use in-house events or trending topics to frame content creation and improve the odds it will be shared
Tout adds that text overlays and narration can add context to clips. After all, we’re more likely to share content that we can easily understand and appreciate.
Plan Ahead to Win
As with any brand marketing strategy, planning is the key to finding success. Do the research to know your audience and then be proactive about working video into your content calendar, advises Forbes contributor John Rampton. Also remember organic video isn’t the only option available. For 2015, Twitter has announced paid solutions for marketers who want to distribute clips on a cost-per-view basis. Remember: Short video sells, and with 1 billion smartphones expected to be sold by this year, it makes sense to get all your creativity in front of that captive audience.