Five years ago, companies would come to our agency with a fairly simple demand: “I need a social media video.”
To fulfill this request, we’d identify the customer’s target demographic, develop appealing creative for that group, and deliver a single video for the brand to publish on Facebook and potentially Instagram.
Due to the emergence of Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and a revamped ad platform on Facebook, creating one piece of content for video campaigns is no longer an effective strategy. Modern consumers have become masterful ad-skippers. According to a Mirriad study, 90% of consumers regularly click the “skip” button when marketing videos invade their browsing experience. Unfortunately for marketers, outlets like Snapchat and Instagram Stories only make ad-skipping easier.
Consumers have turned to social media platforms because they want to receive news, entertainment and information that is specifically tailored to their interests. Along the way, they’ve learned to completely ignore pieces of content and messages that don’t immediately grab their attention.
Dozens of social platforms exist and each one features a unique group of people with unique desires. It’s foolish to believe that posting the same video everywhere will drive results. If agencies and brands want their content to be seen, they need to make it fit into this highly selective climate.
The Bite-Sized Approach
Rather than distribute a single video throughout every social media platform, modern agencies should instead embrace a fractionalized approach in which the “big idea” (or the backbone) of a campaign is custom-tailored to each site.
This means strategically creating several videos instead of one big video — something my agency recently did for Red Bull. To promote the upcoming Red Bull Air Race in San Diego, we filmed stunt pilot Kirby Chambliss zipping around the sky while skydivers in wingsuits performed aerobatics around him. After shooting with over a dozen cameras, we cut the video into seven unique deliverables that would each fit seamlessly into a social outlet: Facebook, Instagram, Instagram Stories, YouTube and Red Bull’s website.
Video marketing has evolved into an entirely different beast and we have to constantly adapt to stay relevant. Here are three principles that help our agency create successful campaigns in this new climate:
TIME Magazine declared that goldfish now have longer attention spans than humans. Keep this top of mind when creating videos for social media, as you’ll have between half a second and five seconds to capture users’ attention.
Work hard to hook viewers with stunning imagery within the first few frames of the video, but no matter how tempting it is, don’t lure them in by flashing something irrelevant on the screen. Instead, try having the first few seconds of an ad provide a visual teaser of the best, most relevant part of the video.
For example, if you’re promoting a direct-to-consumer fashion line, starting your spot with a time-lapse unboxing segment will be much more engaging than simple product shots. After you’ve hooked the audience, you can cut away to the explanation of how your product or service works.
Movie studios, in particular, have taken note of the way digital audiences view content. Many promotional trailers — like this one for Jason Bourne — now broadcast brief ads for themselves before the actual trailer begins.
Consumers visit certain social media platforms to see specific types of content. For example, according to Pew Research, a majority of Twitter and Facebook users are there to gather news. As such, you should publish timely, newsy content on these platforms — such as videos that announce new product lines.
Users on Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, on the other hand, are looking to build their skills and feel inspired. According to Google, YouTube searches containing the phrase “how-to” are growing by 70% each year. So on these platforms, try to provide tip-based marketing videos for the DIY crowd.
You should also allow demographics data to drive your creative decision-making. For example, eMarketer predicts that two-thirds of all millennials will have Instagram accounts by 2019, and The Wall Street Journal recently reported that 41% of 18- to 34-year-olds in the U.S. can be found on Snapchat. Integrating young actors or influencers on these platforms can lead to better results.
Understanding the different types of users on each social platform is just part of the equation; you also need to know what the content they consume looks like.
Given that users are uploading iPhone-shot photos and videos to Snapchat, don’t even think about using high-gloss cinematography. The content you create should look like it authentically fits with the content that consumers already engage with.
Also, be wary of the vertical or horizontal formats that are inherent to each social media site. Facebook and Instagram, for example, both recently switched to vertical formats. Creating horizontal videos may not be as effective as square or vertical content, especially if you’re targeting mobile audiences.
The traditional one-size-fits-all approach to social media video marketing simply doesn’t work anymore. Today’s consumers have extremely short, extremely picky attention spans, and hitting that “skip” button has become second nature to them. In order to thrive in the future and have your content be seen, it’s time for marketing agencies to embrace the new era of bite-sized, fractionalized video content.
This article first appeared in www.forbes.com
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