Tips & Tricks for the Latest Video Formats: Live Video, Stories & 360

A recurring theme at the Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego this year was the future of video, with emphasis on live video, social media “stories”, and 360 video formats. Although most digital marketers may have some knowledge around these newer platforms, there’s the tendency to shy away from experimenting with them due to the fear of the unknown. We’ve summarized our main takeaways from the conference regarding each format, to help give a better sense of the opportunities available and which route may be the best fit for your brand.

Live Video

Since the launch of Meerkat, Periscope, YouTube Live, and Facebook Live, live video has been taking social media by storm. Last March, Facebook even announced that they were giving live videos priority in users’ News Feeds. It’s important for brands to, therefore, determine whether live video is the right option for them, given their goals and resources.

According to one of the conference presenters, Joel Comm, “Live video is the most significant development in social media since the invention of the smartphone”. Several other panel members and keynote speakers also shared their experiences and insights regarding live video on various channels. We’ve noted our perspective and main takeaways, given the available opportunities and uses for live video.

Purpose

  • Covering real-time news and events.

Recommended Use Cases

  • Great for specialized events, such as conferences, trade shows, store openings, and product launches.
  • For brands searching for instant feedback that can help shape their content or services.

Best Practices and Tips

  • Promote the livecast to fans ahead of time on various channels including email, blog posts, and social media, to provide enough notice and build anticipation.
  • Interact with users watching the video and respond to their questions or comments.
  • Try to end with a call-to-action, whether it is following your brand on social media or subscribing to your newsletters.
  • Be authentic and brand your content in your own style. Ensure there is consistency between the live video and your other offline and online content in terms of tone and voice and messaging.

Source: https://live.fb.com/about/

360 Video

Virtual reality and 360 videos have taken off amongst early adopters; however, the majority of brands and advertisers are still fearful of this new format. The main concern is related to having access to the proper equipment, expertise, and technology to support 360 experiences. According to conference presenters Ryan Bell and Jonathan Nafarrete from VRScout, content creators can purchase a wide range of 360 cameras — from the $199 Insta360 Nano to the $799 Vuze — based on their needs. Therefore the investment is not as extreme as one might think.

Purpose

  • Storytelling and a specialized experience that is difficult to showcase in 2D.
  • Building a strong connection with your audience, as you are providing users with full control on what they want to see.

Recommended Use Cases

  • If the technology and resources are feasible. As mentioned, you will need a specialized camera that can capture all angles to produce the immersive effect.
  • If incorporating 360 somehow adds to the experience.
  • Great for specialized events, for industries such as tourism and hospitality (e.g. view of hotel rooms and amenities), for showcasing products, or showing behind the scenes footage. E.g. Nescafé used 360 to show viewers how their coffee is sourced.

Best Practices and Tips

  • Use a tripod to ensure a steady shot and to remove yourself from the video.
  • Have smooth transitions to avoid a nauseating experience, by using editing software such as the Kolor Autopano Video platform.
  • Draw attention with movement, visual cues, and audio.
  • Acknowledge the user as if you are in the room with them.
  • Give users enough time to absorb their surroundings and the experience.
  • Keep the audience in mind when shooting the video. What would they be interested in seeing? Which angles would provide them with the most value?

Stories

Snapchat introduced the concept of “Stories” back in 2013 — a compilation of short video clips and photos that remain visible in-app for 24 hours. Now other social channels have followed in Snapchat’s footsteps to introduce the same concept and are shaping how we share content. Instagram launched its copycat “Stories” feature in August 2016, with Facebook then following up with their own version in March 2017. It wasn’t a big surprise when the messaging app owned by Facebook, WhatsApp, started their own “Status” feature in February 2017 as well. It’s evident that these ephemeral content pieces are gaining in popularity and therefore important for marketers to understand when and how to use the format on the various channels.

Purpose

  • Storytelling by showing a sequence of related events.
  • Showcasing your brand persona and regularly interacting with your audience through temporary content.

Recommended Use Cases

  • Overall: showing the “day in the life of” your business, capturing your product or service in action, and promoting events as well as other time-sensitive content (e.g. discounts and sales).
  • Snapchat Stories: For targeting a younger demographic than Facebook and Instagram, as Snapchat is dominating amongst 18- to 24-year-olds (37% of US Snapchat users), followed by 25- to 34-year-olds (making up 26% of US users). Users are also more female skewed. Businesses can take advantage of opportunities such as 10-second Snap Ads, branded Sponsored Filters, or interactive Sponsored Lenses. Snapchat Stories are generally a great fit for brands that are quirky, spontaneous, and edgy.
  • Instagram Stories: Conference presenter Sue B. Zimmerman noted that Instagram Stories should closely align with content posted on the user or business’ Instagram feed. Stories essentially draw in users to learn more about your business through your uploaded feed content. Professional, higher quality images and videos are therefore prioritized more on Instagram Stories than on Snapchat.
  • Facebook Stories: are currently for personal use only and not available to Business Pages. Once available to businesses, these would reach an older demographic than both Instagram and Snapchat, with content around tech updates, business news and political changes likely showing the most engagement.

Best Practices and Tips

  • Use unique content for the different story platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) based on the platform’s audience and environment. This will both cater to each audience, and encourage users to follow you on more than one channel.
  • Create urgency since the messaging disappears after 24 hours.
  • Share insider information to provide a sense of exclusivity. This will help bring users back to your Story feed to consume more content.
  • Have a compelling “hook” at the beginning of the story to draw users in to watch the full slideshow of videos and photos.
  • Videos tend to create a more intimate connection within stories in comparison to photos.

Final Thoughts

Rather than trying to hop onboard the latest video trends, it is important for brands to recognize how recent video formats can help provide value to their audience and reach their business goals. Testing is key to gauge user engagement and determine what resonates best with your users. Pay attention to the time users spend viewing your video, where they drop off, and how they interact with the various formats and messaging. This will help improve your content over time to cater to your audience’s habits and needs.

It is also important to keep updated with the latest trends in engagement and adoption of technology to determine which formats and channels will provide the best value in the long-term. For example, in April, TechCrunch showed that Instagram Stories hit 200 million daily active users, which surpassed Snapchat’s 161 million daily users. Instagram usage continues to grow while Snapchat is steadily on the decline. Instagram Stories may, therefore, be a better long-term investment when planning resources and content strategy for Stories.

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