Is social video the next frontier for brands?

Brands have always loved videos, a format of predilection to tell their story and build their image. Ever since Bulova’s first 10 second TV spot 70 years ago, we’ve seen video content evolve into many forms, from 30 second TV spots to long form branded content capable of virally attracting consumers’ attention.

In today’s fast paced, hyper connected mobile world, consumers’ desire for bite sized entertainment has led to the explosion of any form of content light and short enough to be created and shared on any device. Following the footprints of Twitter’s character limit, short form videos created via mobile apps, are now the latest trend in social media, subsequently inspiring new forms of branded content.

Although not alone in a fast evolving landscape of applications, at the forefront of the short-form social video movement is Twitter owned Vine, the world’s fastest growing mobile application of all time. Launched less than a year ago, it already attracts over 50 million users daily, while its most popular content creators (“Viners”) see their follower base grow up to 15% every week.

At the heart of its success is a minimalist approach to creating and sharing videos that are no more than 6 seconds long. “Vines” are created exclusively on smartphones and tablets, using a single button to start and stop recording. But do not confuse simplicity with triviality. Despite the newly launched editing functionality a good Vine video will have been carefully planned before the record button is even pressed. Once published, each Vine plays in an endless loop and can be shared and embedded on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

As a response to Vine’s success, Facebook owned mobile photo sharing application Instagram quickly introduced similar video functionalities in June 2013. Beyond allowing its 150 million users to now record up to 15 second short videos, Instagram added the functionality to use its popular digital filters on videos, thus allowing a more stylized approach to amateur short filmmaking.

But the response to Vine was not limited to Silicon Valley. One of the Chinese online rivals recently launched a similar short-form video-sharing platform called WeiShi. Integrated with QQ, Tencent Weibo and Tencent email, the app allows users to create  & share up to 8-second long videos. Due to the rapid growth of Weixin / WeChat outside of China the integration with Weixin’s Moments (similar to Facebook’s Timeline) can represent a threat to the US giants.

Despite the apparent clear leaders in the social mobile video app space the competition doesn’t sleep and new video mobile apps are popping up globally on a regular basis. Time will show if Vine’s current success can remain its pole position.

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