At Percolate we like to say that brands are figuring out how to go from four commercials a year to four tweets per hour. What used to take teams of people months to produce has squeezed into tighter and tighter windows of marketing content.
Futbol fans across the planet turned to Twitter to register their shock, sadness, and snark as Brazil got obliterated by Germany in the World Cup semi-finals — a record-breaking 35.6 million tweets were fired off, including 580,000 tweets in a single minute when Sami Khedira scored Germany’s 5th goal. The power of shortform content like tweets and FB posts is that it’s faster to create and faster to consume, leaving consumers engaged but always hungry for more.
For brands, this new volume and pace is a challenge they’re only starting to master. But it keeps getting harder.
Shortform video is becoming the new frontier for brands seeking to engage consumers. Vine is perhaps best known as a shortform video platform, with its looping videos capped at a mere six seconds. Their recent update which reveals the number of times a video has been shown (or “looped) reveals that top Vines can garner hundreds of thousands, and even millions of impressions. And advertisers have moved in quickly – Niche is an ad agency that works with top Viners to produce branded content, with top performers earning upwards of $300,000 annually.
Vine isn’t the only platform: Instagram also launched video functionality in June of 2013, capped at 15 seconds, and has seen strong results, with videos getting twice the engagement of mere photos. Re/code recently documented a new function on Twitter that suggested videos for users to attach to their tweets.
These developments are telling: platforms tend to release features designed to drive engagement and if they’re focusing on video, then the obvious conclusion is that video is what captures user attention. Independent research supports this: by 2017, Neomobile forecasts that two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video.
Matthew Scott, an experience strategist at West, takes it even farther in his open letter to CMO’s:
TV and televised live events are as popular as ever. The web didn’t disrupt this channel like it did so much of the other traditional media channels. We keep consuming many hours of video content on a weekly basis. And now we spend a lot of our mobile time consuming or communicating with video.
My belief is that video creation should be at the heart of the marketing function and I want to see what happens when that is scaled.
That’s a tall order, but if Scott’s right, A number of brands are already leveraging Instagram Video including the NBA, UFC, and Victoria’s Secret, each with very obvious visual content they can share. On Vine, brands that have done well include GE, their #sixsecondscience campaigns and Urban Outfitters which features an eclectic mix of hipster content, from concerts to homemade soaps.
Making shortform videos requires new skills and new kinds of creativity. Just because they’re short doesn’t mean they’re easy to make. Marcus and Cody Johns, two top Viners with 7.2M followers between them, take up to four hours to shoot a six-second video, getting props, building sets, and doing numerous takes to get just the right look. Witty captions, a steady hand, and an understanding of how to tell a great story is crucial.
It can feel a bit overwhelming to be a marketer in today’s rapidly evolving world, but the opportunity is bigger than ever. While television might now be the second screen, video will continue to capture consumer attention in new mediums and platforms. Brands must start to find their way in the world of shortform video.