As digital platforms evolve and new media channels continue to emerge, marketers are forced to get creative. It isn't only a matter of cutting through ad clutter and demonstrating your brand's social media savvy. Social sites are where consumers are spending their time, and brands need to be there to receive them.
You've seen the numbers: Instagram just reached 150 million active monthly users; Twitter's Vine has 40 million, tripling its user base since June; and YouTube recently topped 1 billion unique visitors per month. It isn't a coincidence that all three platforms are built on a foundation of visual content. Consumers respond to photos and video, with campaigns that showcase visual assets often seeing high response rates. Visual content is more easily recalled, and more likely to be shared. When it appears on social platforms, it also affords marketers the opportunity to riff on traditional promotional tactics in a new, more viral way.
Before you default to old platform stand-ins for your next campaign, explore the potential of image-based social media. Mix and match promotions and platforms in unique ways. Flip your conventional ad strategy on its head. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Swap site-based editorials for those on Instagram
New York Fashion Week has officially come to a close, but it still lingers online where consumers can find limitless photos and clips from the event on magazine sites, YouTube, and Pinterest - which this year launched a dedicated Fashion Week hub.
Social media is a natural partner for brands looking to distribute visual assets in digital form, but Vogue went a step further by creating and publishing a fashion editorial on Instagram. The brand recruited a photographer to shoot three "fashion stories" using an iPhone, and posted them to Instagram along with the hashtag #VogueInstaFashion.
"It's the first thing we check in the morning and the last thing we look at before bed," Vogue says of its decision to leverage the popular photo- and video-sharing social network. To ensure that photos were seen and shared, each shoot also included a unique hashtag, and the images were republished to Vogue.com.
Use YouTube to extend your reach
To date over 4 million people have watched Chipotle's animated short, "The Scarecrow," which lives only on YouTube and the brand's site. The film depicts a world in which all food is processed until a displaced scarecrow provides a more natural alternative.
As branded content it's a quality piece, but "The Scarecrow" – created in partnership with Moonbot Studios – serves another purpose: to promote Chipotle's new branded mobile game. Chipotle recognized the importance of investing in visual material that served a dual purpose and extended its reach; while the mobile game is available only to iPhone and iPad users, anyone can watch the YouTube film, which sends the same brand message.
Appeal to busy consumers with promos on Instagram Video
What better way to promote a film about a tech legend than with a movie trailer that lives on a social site? The 15-second trailer for the movie "Jobs," portraying the life and career of Apple chief executive Steve Jobs – was posted to Instagram with two different hashtags, one promoting the trailer, and one relating to the film itself. Open Road Films, the studio behind "Jobs," has since released two additional Instagram video trailers, each offering clips from the film based on a theme: "Jobs on Problem Solving" and "Jobs on Recruiting."
This isn't the first movie trailer built with social media – earlier this year Vine was used to promote "The Wolverine" in just 6 seconds – and it won't be the last. Social video services like these are ideal for distributing promo teasers. In addition to being easy to make and easy for consumers to share, branded social videos appeal to social media users' love of succinct content.
Engage audiences by crowdsourcing content with Vine
Last month, vacation rental service Airbnb announced a unique contest idea that leveraged the Vine video platform to interact with fans. The company invited consumers to help create a crowdsourced film comprised of user-submitted Vines that were spliced together to impart a cohesive narrative about adventure and travel.
Called "Hollywood & Vines," the four-minute social media movie follows a piece of office paper as it becomes an airplane, a boat, and an origami swan making its way cross-country. It's a highly collaborative project incorporating over 100 video submissions, all made with a singular goal in mind. While the video premiered on the Sundance Channel it's even more at home on its microsite, where users can see how it was made. Between the film and the backstory, this effort comes off as immersive and memorable.
It's an exciting time in social media, when brand marketers can challenge marketing tradition and stretch the limits of their imaginations. Using a blend of visual marketing and social media can help you stand out and keep consumers on their toes.
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Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT