The Silent Social Feed: Creating Video in an “Audio Optional” World

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If you’re not building mobile-first videos because you can’t stomach the additional production dollars, you’re doing the same thing users are doing in their feeds—not listening. In fact, 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound.

And with video consumption on the rise across all social platforms, mastering the ability to create video that works with or without sound is key to success in the feed. Instagram’s video consumption has increased by 40% in the past 6 months, and Facebook is reporting that the shift to video consumption is bigger than our shift from desktop to mobile. Pause and take that in.

Yes, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed. “We didn’t budget for this!” you’re thinking. Unfortunately, the data makes it even clearer that stuffing your :30 and :60 minute TV cuts into a pair of social skinny jeans isn’t the way forward. It’s time to learn how to live in an “audio optional” world.

To succeed in our already inundated feeds, follow these seven best practices for social video:

1. DON’T BET ON CAPTION FUNCTIONALITY

Because of auto-play functionality, videos are mostly consumed with the sound off, so creating videos that make sense to users without sound is imperative to not only capturing their attention to watch the entire video, but also to ensuring recall. You might argue that Facebook has a nifty new caption functionality within its platform, but those captions aren’t always accurate and there’s no creative control over the text placement. Additionally, other networks (namely Twitter and Snapchat) don’t have this capability.

2. THE SHORTER THE BETTER

Focus on stories that can be told very quickly. If you’re working from a TV spot, think about your spot in vignettes. Are there parts that can be told more quickly, or segments that can be removed, leaving the story intact?

3. DON’T BURY THE LEAD

In social, keeping your video’s point a mystery for too long will hurt you. People just won’t watch. I’m not saying you have to give away the whole ice cream truck, but you do need to give out some free cones in the form of some type of action or expected result. Often brands will put the end result in the first 3 seconds (the time that’s needed to count as a view), include some sort of title card, and then work back up to the end in the meat of the video. Additionally, videos that feature people in its opening moments generally drive more qualified video views (meaning users who are actually interested in the content, who watch through to the end). However you decide to approach it, the video’s focus should be clear in the first few seconds, otherwise you’ll lose the user.

4. ACTION, THEN BRAND

Your brand doesn’t need to be front and center throughout the entire video. But, if you’re running any kind of brand awareness study alongside your creative, you’ll want to make sure that, no matter what, you include your brand within the first 3 seconds. That counts as a view, so it’s either that or #forgetaboutit. Again, you don’t need to create an overlay (though you can), but you could subtly place your product, or insert “XYZBRAND presents”, but make sure it’s in the beginning of your video. Obviously, it’s better to start with some sort of action to capture the user, so if you can get your brand in there, great. If not, add that title frame in there before the 2.5-second mark and you’re golden.

5. CREATE CLEAR STORY ARCS

One caveat. No matter how you reveal the focus of your video, storytelling always wins. Videos with clear story arcs (e.g. a beginning, middle and an end), are more memorable and according to Twitter, drive lifts in purchase intent. So if you’re working with longer form video (meaning 1-minute plus), think of ways to first capture the user and then build a story that maps to the storytelling arc you learned in 3rd grade.

6. TEXT OVERLAYS

Okay, you don’t need to go as far as captions for your videos, but there are definitely creative ways you can incorporate text overlays into your videos to help move the story along more quickly and in an engaging way. Take this Wrigley’s ad for example.

Here’s the TV ad:

Here’s the Facebook ad:

 

facebook wrigley 1

 

facebook wrigley 2facebook wrigley 3

facebook wrigley 4

 

 

 

 

 

Though we don’t have the entire video playing here, you can see that they’ve taken the same concept from the TV ad and shortened it significantly and added the “Will he dare? Skinny Dip” text overlay, to give a better idea of what the user is viewing. It also does a great job of getting the branding in early!

7. GO LIVE

Last but not least, when it’s feasible, consider going live with video. It doesn’t make sense in all scenarios, but when it can be tied to an event IRL (in real life), it’s one of the most engaging video formats. Facebook reports that its live videos receive 10x more comments than regular videos and Twitter reports that Live video on its platform drives the highest levels of favorability in online video.

 

Originally posted on digitasdose.com

Insta-Algorithm: Stand Out or Step Aside

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Originally written & published on Digitas Dose.

Oh how timely.

Right after #PiDay (the number that never ends) and in the midst of the biggest tech nerd gathering of the year, Instagram announces “See the Moments You Care About First”. Read: Algorithm. What they want you to read: Relevance.

Now, for all of us in advertising, it’s no surprise that Instagram would change a user’s feed from reverse chronological to personalized. What’s interesting is that this change comes after Instagram’s ad revenues have increased from $0 in the beginning of 2015 to a projected $5.3B by 2017. A very different approach than its mama bear Facebook took – i.e., implementing an algorithm and slowly removing organic reach from brands to rapidly increase the need for paid Facebook ads. Only time will tell what this will mean for Instagram’s overall revenue, but my only assumption points to more money, more problems.

These observations aside, there are a few other implications for this algorithm (other than our impending necessity to allocate paid dollars) to consider in the coming months:

STAND OUT OR GET LEFT OUT

Millennials are already visiting Instagram around 10X per day – it seems crazy, but I have to tell you it is OH so true. Even so, users miss, on average, about 70% of the posts in their feed. So by optimizing the posts you see first based on your historical interactions with the people and brands you follow, the 30% of posts you do see should be the best ones. And if users are seeing the best, you’d assume they would stay on the platform longer. The longer users stay on the platform, the more ads Instagram is able to serve. The more ads Instagram is able to serve, the more important it is for your brand’s ad to stand out.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

Though Instagram is one of the most popular social networks, it’s always been my perspective that it’s a platform more concerned with quality than quantity. Whereas tweeting regularly is important to keep your followers interested, and posting at least daily on Facebook helps maintain a brand’s reach and overall engagement, frequency is of less importance on Instagram. It’s a network that is all about beautiful photography, artwork, fashion, food, etc. And, aside from the Kardashians, the accounts that are followed the most are the accounts that maintain that standard. With their feed change, this difference will become even more important. Brands MUST focus on quality to elicit the highest engagements per post. This is what will keep them top of feed and top of mind for users versus posting every day.

REPURPOSED FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM ADS

Now, Facebook will tell you that you can use their ad platforms interchangeably, publishing the same ad across both Facebook and Instagram. But this feed change tells me otherwise. If we’re constantly looking at the best of the best in our feeds, then the only conclusion I can come to is that the ads we see would need to be pretty supreme. They will need to be beautiful, be platform-first, and they’ll need to focus on a user’s Instagram habits. Because what are they on the platform for? Inspiration, beauty, exploration. It’s not the same as Facebook, and so it’s important that your production dollars and time are spent focusing on the nuances that make it differ from Facebook.

As this personalized feed rolls out, we’re sure to hear some outrage from Instagram diehards. But as with Facebook’s timeline and every other change we see, that is sure to die down. But will our use of Instagram die down as well? Time will tell.

See more at: http://www.digitasdose.com/2016/03/insta-algorithm-stand-out-or-step-aside/#sthash.xqSfvi3P.dpuf

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Originally written for & published on Social Media Examiner.

Want to make sure your ads stand out on Facebook and Instagram?

Have you tried Carousel Ads?

While many businesses use Carousel Ads solely to promote products, the ads also provide an excellent opportunity to showcase your brand’s unique narrative.

In this article, I’ll share how to use storytelling in carousel ads to promote your products and stand out from your competitors.

Discover how to tell stories with Facebook and Instagram Carousel ads.

#1: Grab Attention With the First Image

The first rule of storytelling (and advertising for that matter) is to start out strong. Be sure the first image in your carousel ad series grabs attention and makes sense on its own.

Since users may not scroll through all of the images in the series, you want to get your message across right away. Otherwise, you risk confusing your audience and wasting impressions.

For example, in Progressive’s #ActYourAge carousel ads, the first image immediately stands out.

progressive carousel ad

Make sure the first image in your series grabs attention and can stand on its own.

It uses a white background, which is very different from normal photography on the platform, and has a man playing with a baby’s mobile (also known as a carousel). The picture is so unexpected and kooky, the user can’t help but read the line below: “Dump your parents’ car insurance company. #ActYourAge.”

While your first image shouldn’t rely on any of the others to get its point across, it should still be intriguing enough to get users to swipe through to the end.

#2: Make Them Swipe

With any story, the point is to keep the reader engaged throughout and ultimately to read through to the end. Just as authors want to keep their readers interested, the same is true with carousel ads.

Once you’ve hooked the user with the first image, encourage continued engagement with the other images. This gives your brand more exposure and increased recall.

This carousel ad by Tesco Foods certainly elicits the “I can’t stop swiping” response. To see the entire photo users must swipe through all of them. This is a great example of drawing a user through a story and, in this case, a very delicious-looking one.

carousel ad example

Keep users engaged so they feel they must swipe through to the end.

Test out this concept for your brand. Use Photoshop’s splice tool (or play with pictures in your favorite design program) to cut separate images from a larger one.

#3: Create a Scene

Relating to your audience and evoking emotion are the other important parts of storytelling. To do these, provide the context necessary for users to feel like they’re right there with you. Place them at the scene.

Choose photos carefully to create imagery for carousel ads. Then write copy to draw in your audience.

The TV series Wet Hot American Summer did a great job getting their audience members to envision themselves at Camp Firewood. Pictures show the characters hanging out and doing things with their friends. Plus the image and copy pairing is so clever that users not only picture themselves there, they also remember how they felt when they attended summer camp years ago.

carousel ad example

Using images and text, set a scene that is relatable to your audience.

Obviously it’s easier to set the scene when you’re advertising something with a plot, like a television show or movie. However, for products and services, figure out how your brand fits into your customers’ lives and create a scene that demonstrates it.

For example, if you’re advertising a shirt, rather than show still images of it, think about the lifetime of the shirt. It goes from fresh and new in a package to being worn to being cleaned to being borrowed by a friend, etc. Photos that showcase a story create a plot, which evokes emotion from your customers.

#4: Think Sequentially

The order of events is essential to story comprehension. A well-edited sequence provides a natural pace to the story within your ad. Help move your users through your story.

Showtime did a great job incorporating natural sequence into its recent ads around the second season of Penny Dreadful. In just four photos you can tell the story is about a man on the run. He shoots someone, says goodbye to his girlfriend and runs away to a church.

carousel ad example

Sequence the images in your ad to increase story comprehension.

Keep in mind that sequence doesn’t necessarily mean chronological order. It just means every action captured leads to a reaction.

#5: Incorporate Visual Variety

In videography, visual variety means shooting multiple shots of the same scene from different locations, angles, distance and so on. Choose an assortment of images to build a story and ensure visual interest.

In this jean ad from Target, each shot has a role in painting the big picture. It brings the audience into the design studio, shares what the studio is like and displays what kind of jeans are being made.

carousel ad example

Use a variety of image shots to make your ads interesting and paint the big picture for your audience.

Most feature films show multiple images to set the scene. This is something you can easily do with carousel ads.



#6: Consider the Platform

No matter what your story, if you want to stand out, think about the channel first. Look at the platform’s audience, whether it’s Facebook or Instagram, and what they expect out of it. Then design an ad that speaks to them.

For example, Buick hit it out of the park on Instagram with these ads about its new 24-hour test drive service. The photography is beautiful (an Instagram must), and it uses a popular photo filter. Buick is also leveraging some of the top content categories that receive the most engagement by users on Instagram: fashion and fitness.

carousel ad example

Make sure whatever story you tell, it’s in alignment with the platform.

Develop a channel-specific story that makes the best use of the platform, and increases engagement with your intended audience.

#7: Leave Your Audience Wanting More

If there’s a place to break the rules of storytelling, here it is: do not give a conclusion. Rather than offering a natural ending, lure users into clicking the learn morebutton, so they can finish the story on your custom landing page.

For example, Sour Patch Slurpee takes viewers through the first four images of a Sour Patch Kid story. So much excitement is generated that users want to see what comes next. After they click, they’re directed to a landing page that extended the “party” to its audience. This custom landing page asks users to share their #SPKSlurpeeSelfies.

carousel ad example

Create a story that leaves users clicking for more.

The purpose of carousel ads is to increase awareness and engagement. However, the ultimate goal is to get the audience to continue the experience and click through to a landing page. When that happens, you’re able to establish a relationship, continue the interaction and possibly capture your users’ information.

Final Thoughts

With today’s cluttered ad space, it’s getting harder to really stand out. If you want to build a breakthrough carousel ad, start by creating an engaging story that takes your audience along for the ride.

What do you think? Do you use storytelling in your carousel ads? What techniques are most effective? Which brands’ ads really stand out?

#socialmedia lessons from @yogiproducts tea. Listen to your audience & you’ll discover how to engage with them.

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via Instagram http://ift.tt/1s6KIZs

Couldn’t agree more. Thanks for the inspiration, @briansolis

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via Instagram http://ift.tt/1CkKQbU

The Short-Form Video Revolution: Vine, Instagram Video, or Both?

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It’s no surprise that video, in general, is on the rise. It’s been talked about by marketers since YouTube became a major player. But video consumption has increased substantially in the past year. Video plays on smartphones tripled from 2011 to 2012 (Adobe). The viral reach of video is also now outpacing any other type of content, with the viral share-of-reach for video growing from 55% in 2011 to 77% in 2012 (versus non-video content) (Adobe).

Being a part of the video game is now an option marketers are being forced to consider. But, the creation of videos can often seem daunting for marketing managers. How high quality should the videos be? How long should they be? What should be included?  All of these questions have become barriers preventing brands from diving into video content creation.

Fortunately with the introduction of both Vine and Instagram Video, most of these difficult decisions can be avoided. Not only do these apps make videos easy to create and upload, but consumers also seem to prefer this type of short-form video over static images. In fact, before Instagram Video was available, Vine videos were shared 4 times more than any other video on the internet (Unruly Media), and the number of Vine video links posted on Twitter surpassed the number of Instagram photos posted (Nick Bilton, NY Times Columnist).

Because of its unique video platform, Vine quickly became one of the most popular apps available, but as soon as Instagram introduced “Instavideo,” its popularity started to wain. Using Topsy analytics, we put together a chart of the past 2 weeks, showing the amount of Vine and Instagram links shared on Twitter. From the graph you can tell that more Instagram links (including both photos and videos) are being shared on Twitter. This is due to one thing: short-form video.

Instagram Shares vs. Vine Shares

Now that there are two players in the short-form video world, marketers who wish to engage with users in this way must decide which app to use. From the chart, one might be quick to assert that Instagram Video is the best avenue as Instagram Video has had a major effect on the amount of Vine videos created and shared. On June 26, less than 900,000 Vine links were shared on Twitter, compared with nearly 3 million shared on June 15 (as reported by Marketing Land). So does this mean that brands should opt for Instagram Video over Vine?

We’re not so sure. There are too many differentiators keeping the two video content creation apps from usurping the other. AND, don’t forget that each will continue to develop their platforms to keep their loyal users around.

If you have the time, why not create a presence on both apps? If you really must choose one, consider your audience and the types of videos you want to share. Where do they fit the best? No matter which app you choose, though, you’re doing something right by engaging with your audience using short-form videos.

As for us, we got hooked on Vine from the get-go and haven’t been able to stop. But we also love Instagram Video because we already have an Instagram account, the videos are unintrusive, and the footage is undeniably beautiful.

Interested in some of my Vines? Look up social_allie when you’re on the Vine app.

Which video app do you prefer?

http://sixstoriesup.com/watch-out-vine-instagram-video-cinema-announced-today/

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Today Facebook & Instagram confirmed our suspicions. Instagram has incorporated video into their platform!

It’s seamless, beautiful and available today. Here’s the down & dirty on what makes it different from Vine:

  1. Instagram videos can be up to 15 seconds long, as opposed to Vine’s video lengths which are capped at 6 seconds. According to Instagram’s co-founder it’s the “perfect medium” between longer format videos and ultra-short videos.Instagram Video Record Button
  2. With Instagram’s video interface, users will be able to edit bits of their video and re-record. Whereas on Vine if you need to edit a clip users are forced to re-record the entire video (though it seems this may be changing soon).Instagram Video Editing Clips
  3. Instagram is known for beautiful photography and according to today’s announcement videography will be no different. Instagram has developed 13 unique filters into its interface, made specifically for videos. These filters are similar to the filters for photographs, but are all their own. With Vine there is currently no filter option – what you see is what you get.Instagram Video Filter Capabilities
  4. With Instagram Video, users can now select their own cover photo. This cover frame is the image that will be published to their friends feeds. With Vine, there is no option to select your own cover photo, it just automatically assigns one.Instagram Video Cover Photo
  5. Instagram Cinema is here and pretty groundbreaking. Instagram teamed up with video scientists all over the world to create a stabilization feature within their camera interface so that no Instagram Videos are wobbly. This is a pretty remarkable feature that will allow users to seem like professional videographers (much like how Instagram pictures allow users to seem like professional photographers).
  6. There is no loop. On Vine, videos automatically play when you scroll through your feed and they also loop over and over again. With Instagram Videos, the cover photo is what appears in a users’ feed, with an overlay of a video icon. As soon as users lift their finger while scrolling through their feed the video plays. Seamless and unobtrusive.Instagram Video In Feed
  7. All Instagram videos will be on the web as well as on the app, so that users can link to their Instagram profile or specific video. With Vine, users must point their friends to the app if they want to share their profile or video or ask people to follow them.

Instagram Video seems to be “everything we know and love,” about Instagram already, “but it moves.” Oh…and did I mention it’s available right now on both Android and iOS?

Will you ditch Vine for Instagram Video?