Video's Evolving Role In Social Media

We all know that channels like Twitter and Facebook enable quick response and interaction between brands and their consumers.  Today brands are finding ways to be charming, sarcastic, and irreverent; they’re personalizing their communications, and successfully so.  After all, when a company takes the time to write a response to someone’s tweet or Facebook post, it can demonstrate the brand as having a personality – a critical feature of social channels. For instance, Domino’s asked @AmazingPhil to pack his bags and move out after he declared that he cheated on them with Pizza Hut.  Taco Bell (a client of ours) and Old Spice have bantered about their use of ingredients.  

Yet as clever as these examples are, there are ways that we can go further.  Many marketers have largely treated video as a cumbersome and costly effort, primarily repurposed from TV instead of purpose-built for social platforms.  But today we’re seeing the emergence of responsive video, broadening the channels in which brands can interact with people in a more engaging way.  Unfortunately, while all social channels have risks that fly in the face of traditional brand reticence, video has the added problem of bucking the trend of preproduced, corporate, commercial communication—expensive and slow.  That said, technology has democratized the use and reduced the cost of video production, so we’re starting to see some brands embrace the ability to create swift, inexpensive video.

Here are just a few ways that video can be used in social; quickly and with great effect.

Damage Control

Traditionally, big brands have been cautious, deliberate, and slow when reacting to major issues, and response channels have been limited to press releases and news interviews.  But responses with a quick and raw feel, projecting transparency, can be used to a brand’s advantage, as seen with Federal Express last year. When one of its customers posted a video showing a destructive activity by an employee (something that went viral almost immediately), the brand responded with a video apology on its YouTube page. What FedEx quickly produced was an inexpensive video explanation of its view of the event and subsequent actions. A slickly produced video would have been untimely and might have brought further wrath. But this straightforward, transparent production helped stabilize the public outcry.

Proactive Humor

In October, Bodyform received a mocking complaint on its Facebook page about how the brand had long deceived men into thinking that woman always had fun-filled menstrual cycles, easily participating in activities such as rock climbing and horseback riding. Bodyform used this as an opportunity and responded with a now-famous video “apologizing” and explaining that the company was just trying to protect the complainer from the truth.

Last summer, Tide responded within two days to an article in The Onion describing a massive viral video hit that Tide produced -- except that the video never existed.  We worked with Tide to make the fictitious video real, with the brand tweeting that perhaps the article’s author may have forgotten to post the link. 

In both cases, these videos were relatively simple, humorous, and self-aware -- all qualities easily among the top-10 components of a successful video. 

Informative Communication

We’re starting to see some companies provide real-time, on-the-fly, personalized videos based on customer data collection.  The earliest successes focus on simple topics like electric or gas utility billing explanations.  Customers receive a communication containing audio and video based precisely on their account, including info on billing cycle and opportunities for savings. Currently, these videos are used purely to provide information, but there is opportunity in considering how customer data can be used to engage in new ways with customers. Companies like Eyeview, Idomoo and SundaySky are enabling this type of communication.

 

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2 comments about "Video's Evolving Role In Social Media".
  1. Neil Perry from Poptent , November 28, 2012 at 5:37 p.m.
    Great article. The smart use of video, produced inexpensively and deployed quickly, is an amazing tool for managing the intricacies of our new, omnipresent social media environment. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.
  2. Scott Clark from Innovid , November 29, 2012 at 12:14 p.m.
    All good points. And video in the social arena is not just about content, it's also about enabling participation - sharing, tweeting, etc. Whether the video is posted on YT, FB or distributed via paid media, brands/publishers/platforms need to embed social functions into the videos themselves.