Instagram Video Best Practices

On June 20th Instagram announced the addition of videos to its popular photo-sharing app.  Besides being an obvious response to the growing popularity of Twitter’s Vine app, this is another confirmation that short form content creation is on the rise.

instagram_video-630x395

I was recently asked by DM Confidential to share some tips for marketers to create visually compelling content and test another content distribution channel. Article highlights are at the bottom of this post.

What are some best practices or tips for how marketers and brands should use videos on Instagram?

A couple come to mind right away: Brands can share unique branded experiences, highlight brand advocates, co-create content with audiences, preview products, highlight a specific cause, extend the brands persona via video, preview upcoming events by adding visual context, share important news, drive promotional awareness, leverage Instagram video for promotion, and create videos that show fan appreciation.  The key is to create content that is a natural extension of the brand.

How is it different from Vine, from a marketing perspective?

The first key difference is simply tied to reach potential. By embedding Instagram video within the existing application for both iOS and Android simultaneously, Facebook is providing access to a large and very active user base.

From a marketing perspective, the greater length of the video — 15 seconds vs. 6 — the ability to stabilize the shot, 13 filters and the ability to tap to focus allows for greater flexibility and complexity of a shot. This can provide greater depth in terms of the type of content that can be created and better represent the brand.

Examples of Instagram Video Filters

Photo Jun 21, 4 10 44 PMPhoto Jun 21, 4 11 04 PMPhoto Jun 21, 4 11 44 PM

My assumption is also that at some point Instagram Video will support the ability to create custom filters, similar to how brand applications can incorporate custom Instagram filters to further create associations with the brand.

Do you like this addition to Instagram?

I do like the addition of video to Instagram. Facebook is still the ideal storytelling and amplification platform. With so much attention given to Vine, this was the natural next step for Instagram. This combined with Facebook’s ability to support hashtags as well as photos in comments are all signs that the platform’s future is tied to visual content both static and active.

Example of Facebook Hashtag Support

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 10.21.51 PM

What does it say about the importance of visual content, and short-form videos specifically?

Compelling and relevant visual content has been a key element of driving engagement. An overwhelming majority of content shared is still tied to images. With that said, Vine and Instagram Video now offer quick and easy solutions for consumers to create short-form content. As brands become even more comfortable with their guidelines tied to user generated content, short-form videos will be another viable alternative to support their existing content strategies.

Here is the full DM Confidential Article

DM Confidential - Tom Edwards-Final

Follow Tom Edwards @blackfin360

Hero 4 Final

National Sports Marketing Network

I will soon be speaking at the National Sports Marketing Network event in Dallas on June 25, 2013. The topic will be leveraging social media as an integral part of your branding strategy: Why marketers no longer have a choice to embrace social media. Hope to see you there!

National Sports Marketing Network (NSMN) - North Texas Chapter

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Hero 4 Final

Sports Social TV Summit

I had a great time speaking on a panel this morning at the Sports Social TV Summit. I was a part of a panel discussion with members from the NFL, Turner Sports, Time Warner Cable, the Pac 12 and the Los Angeles Dodgers discussing various topics associated with Social TV.

Tom Speaking 1

Below are three clips tied to various questions that I was asked as well as an overview of our recently executed Way2Saturday program.

Way2Saturday & Social TV

Brand Question… Are brands asking for Social TV & second screen solutions?

The final response was from the Q&A session tied to Facebook Targeting

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Hero 4 Final

Sports Social TV Summit

I will be speaking at the Sports Social TV Summit on May 29, 2013 at the Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, CA.

Bel-Air-Country-Club

I will be a part of the 9:15 am- 10:15 am time slot discussing the power of live sports programming and how Social TV is engaging viewers and driving new revenues at home and in arenas & stadiums. Here is the full list of speakers.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Hero 4 Final

Creating Effective Mobile Landing Pages

Recently, I was asked by DM Confidential to provide insights on best practices for creating mobile landing pages that work well on smartphones. Some of my commentary was included in the article that recently posted. Below is a recap of my thoughts on the topic beyond what was published.

Having a streamlined user experience across both desktop and mobile are absolutely critical with today’s users. Just as visual storytelling has taken over how brands leverage social platforms, having a clean, clear and concise mobile entry point into a branded experience is key to driving engagement & action by the user.

Cross

Whether it’s driving brand awareness, showcasing products or benefits, or simply trying to drive leads, having a mobile landing experience that focuses on a very clear call to action, with clear and concise copy along with imagery or video that is core to driving the user through a pre-determined path is the key to maximizing the initial mobile experience.

Another core element to consider is the impact that responsive design can have for a brand vs. having a separate desktop and mobile experience, by leveraging responsive design during the build out of both desktop and mobile, you can maximize the user experience across platforms.

Here is a breakdown of simple Do’s & Dont’s to consider.

Do’s:

  • Incorporate visual elements while maximizing opportunities for engagement
  • Keep copy clear and concise
  • Be very specific as to the call to action and make sure that the it is incorporated into the design and kept above the fold
  • Do consider optimizing the content for load time
  • Do consider responsive design for both web & mobile to keep the experience consistent yet relevant across both desktop and mobile

Dont’s:

  • Do not just have your website as the default without mobile consideration (bad ux, too much content, difficult to navigate)
  • Avoid too much content
  • Avoid too many fields
  • Don’t just have a list of categories as the primary experience
  • Don’t overload the mobile experience to weigh down load times

Examples:

Good: Crowdsworth | Responsive Design

Here is the Responsive Design Desktop Version of the Crowdsworth site

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 11.15.11 AM

Here is the mobile version highlighting the sites responsive design

Photo Apr 03, 10 47 13 AM

Good: Nike | Clean UX & Clear Call to Action

Nike Mobile

Good: Red Bull | Strong use of visual and call to action that leads to deeper engagement as you scroll

RedBull Mobile

Bad: Chivas Whiskey | There is no mobile optimization present, essentially the site is the mobile landing page. At a minimum create a unique entry experience for the mobile user

Chivas Mobile

Some of my commentary was included in the article that recently posted.

How to Create Effective Mobile Landing Pages

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Hero 4 Final

The rise of PWNED Media

Recently, I had the privilege to speak at the Dallas Digital Summit discussing the convergence of owned & paid media. The talk covered the importance of visual storytelling and the intersection of real-time paid amplification.

Tom Edwards DDS speak

One of the outputs of the presentation is a new phrase that better defines the intersection of paid & owned media. Being a gamer of course I gravitated towards “PWNED media” as the new descriptor for this emerging trend.
TheBlackin PWNED MEDIA Final

There is a consistent theme coming from Facebook regarding owned content strategies. Whether it’s a Facebook conference, on-site at Menlo Park or other interactions with Facebook team members you will consistently hear the phrase “Storytelling”.

Facebook DDS

This definitely makes sense as Facebook’s platform is organized around the generation and amplification of stories.

Storybook DDS

With this in mind, one of the more powerful elements to incorporate into an owned content strategy is visual storytelling.

Snickers Snowman

Think about this for a moment… when we were first learning to read, our parents most likely used picture books to begin to create associations between visual images and the context of the story.

Curious George DDS

The same thing still happens now as adults.

Felix DDS

A picture paints a 1000 words, images are more powerful storytellers than words. Within Facebook, timeline now showcases and rewards brands that use visual imagery to help tell the brands story.

Oreo DDS

In the past I have written about the importance of Edgerank as well as recent changes to the algorithm. In order to optimize owned content, it is important to drive engagement around that content.

edgerank

Creating engaging visual content is definitely the first step to maximize the platform, but there is another step to further drive the reach and impact of visual content.

This is where the paid portion of “PWNED Media” comes into play. Instead of having a separation between owned content & paid campaigns, there should be an intersection to drive a more efficient media spend.

Green DDS

One of the ideal methods to drive engagement both within an existing fan base and beyond is to execute real-time amplification of engaged content.

Converged Media

In layman’s terms take owned content that people are already engaging with and add it to the targeted paid inventory to further maximize the reach of content that people already find interesting.

This is done by setting a pre-determined virality rate based on the size of the fan base and a carefully calculated threshold based on engagement.

This ensures that content that users find compelling can be maximized on behalf of the brand and also serve as an acquisition driver for like-minded fans that align with the persona of the brand.

To my knowledge only 2 brands are actively executing a “PWNED Media” strategy and I lead the social strategy for one of them. If you are interested in hearing more about real-time amplification in action please reach out to me.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Hero 4 Final

Agency Of The Year

Chief Marketer recently named my agency, The Marketing Arm, promo agency of the year for 2012. In this month’s issue of Chief Marketers Promo Magazine, they break down the top 100 promo agencies in the US as well as a two page article about TMA and why we were chosen as this years recipient. The article also includes a key reference to our upcoming Flockstar beta launch. Here is a link to the full article.

Flockstar is the first of our new crowdsourcing service offerings that I have worked intensely on over the past 6 months.  More news to come as we get closer to the public launch but if you are a creative, strategist, planner, etc… then there is still time to join the private beta at http://www.flockstar.co

Hmm.. the gentlemen to the far right looks oddly familiar…

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

BlackFin360

The VolksAd and the Power of FaceTube

Recently we, Red Urban Dallas, completed an amazing collaboration with our sister agency Red Urban Toronto. They work very closely with the Volkswagen brand in Canada and are responsible for very innovative and compelling campaigns.

The initiative started as they always do… with an idea. The idea of a crowdsourced VolksAd came from the very highly regarded Creative Director of Red Urban Toronto, Christina Yu.

Red Urban Toronto had completed serialized ads for the Volkswagen Golf GTI and wanted to extend the campaign from the two current TV spots to incorporate Facebook & YouTube.

Ad 1 – Drive Until: Courage (Chapter 1)

Ad 2 – Drive Until: Time (Chapter 2)

This is where I joined the project. Working closely with the Red Urban Toronto team, I was the strategic advisor for the execution across social channels.

When it came time to execute the VolksAd, the goal was to crowdsource all aspects of the upcoming commercial. From users commenting & voting on storylines, the script, model of the car, the cast, the music & the edit. The Red Urban Toronto team did a great job of executing the campaign.

By spacing the voting activities over multiple weeks, the team was able to maintain engagement and kept fans interested even to the point of livestreaming all 14 hours of the making of the making of!

By incorporating the names of the individuals who contributed during the campaign into the credits of the final edit, there was a sense of ownership for each individual for the finished product.

The results of the campaign were impressive. Active users jumped 140%, Fans of the Volkswagen Canada brand page jumped to 364,097,  there were 119,647,537 total media impressions and over 2,070,936 Facebook impressions.

Here is the full case study video

Here is the finished edit including everyone who contributed to the final product

Here is the official press release

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

BlackFin360

5% of a Facebook Like

Pop Quiz… What is the one word that recently became ubiquitous throughout our online lives? Is it “Refudiate“, the word that Sarah Palin coined and won 2010 word of the year? Is it Slizzard? Thanks for that Far East Movement. No it is one simple four letter word…no not that word… this one… “Like”.

Now it seems that every brand wants your like. You as a consumer are willing to give it to them but why? And as a marketer how can I set realistic expectations around potential growth projections?

I was recently interviewed by Bob Garfield. Yes that Bob Garfield to discuss this exact topic. NOTE: When the video is posted in a few weeks I will post the full interview.

We discussed why is the “Like” relevant? Beyond relevance, I also want to address campaign expectations around benchmarks & growth thresholds.

When you have 663,951,400 million people commonly tied together sharing every aspect of their lives and allowing brands to directly interact with them it creates a marketing equivalent to a perfect storm.

To this point hopefully we all can agree that acquiring a “like” has become a rallying cry for everyone from brands to agencies to your favorite social strategist.

We all hear about the importance of the right mix of Paid, Owned & Earned. We scramble for the latest case studies striving to set the gold standard and create compelling programs that drive “Likes”.

We have heard from the likes (no pun intended) of Vitrue claiming that a “Like” is worth $3.60 of earned media. We talk about EdgeRank. We talk about true reach of social activity proliferating newsfeeds.

We execute programs that are designed to grow “Likes” in addition to simple engagement. Tactics such as exclusive content fan gating, Forced “Like” sweeps opt-in requirements, dual like campaigns, etc…

But when it comes to setting realistic expectations for “Like” growth and campaign KPI’s it becomes very nebulous in terms of how to actually benchmark growth and set realistic expectations both on the brand side and the agency side.

Many brands have very aggressive goals when it comes to growing “Likes”. Many hours are spent, strategic alliances are forged and millions of dollars are spent in the pursuit of growing the base while hopefully bringing relevant brand advocates along for the ride.

Looking at the raw numbers for a moment. I took the top 50 US Facebook pages and tracked and averaged their growth over a period of time and the resulting percentage of growth averaged across them was 5% “Like” growth per month.

Obviously when setting expectations around thresholds it is important to take into account many factors such as the brands objectives around acquisition including “Like” growth, competitive growth, programs executed, etc. but if you are just starting a program and have no basis for growth the 5% number is important as it does provide a baseline of top performing brand pages that you can then craft a realistic expectation of roughly 3-5% at the onset of your strategy.

There is so much more that we can talk about when it comes to “Likes” and it’s real value to campaigns and the Pros & Cons. But the reality is that brands want more and agencies are working hard to make it happen. And with the “Like” moving outside of Facebook over the past year it is going to become even more of a factor.

But one final point to consider is that the “Like” is not the be all/end all of social KPI’s. It is an important and high profile element but it is always important to look at your strategy and objectives holistically.

One final thought is to consider another four letter word that is just now beginning it’s climb towards relevance… “Send” with the recent roll out of the “Send” button now you can easily drive users from 3rd party and proprietary sites directly to engage and hopefully “Like” thus further perpetuating the cycle.

Orbitz Example:

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

BlackFin360

The Pass Back Effect

For marketers working with child centric brands or simply have children of your own, it is important to understand certain trends that are quickly developing in how both parents and children’s behaviors are changing based on the rapid evolution of mobile devices. One of the side benefits is that technology is being passed down at an accelerated rate.

If you are one of the 50+ million Americans with a smartphone and you happen to have small children then you have most likely passed it to them to appease their little hands and minds in certain situations.

This phenomenon is now known as the pass-back effect. By passing your mobile device to your child you are actually participating in a new trend of further enhancing the learning and development of your child… or in real parenting terms you are providing an electronic play grenade that will entertain them for 15 minutes while you are waiting to be seated at a very busy restaurant.

childiphone

Whether it is giving your two year old your iPhone during big brother’s basketball practice (try the Cars inspired matching game). Or your daughter is playing the latest dress-up or Cookie/Cake decorating game between appointments, the pass-back effect is very real. As many of you are keenly aware as nearly half (47%) of the top 100 apps sold are targeting Pre-school & elementary aged children.

app-targets

There are many apps that are ideal for passing time when you need it. In 2010 alone app sales are estimated to clear 1.2 billion (insert Dr. Evil pinky reference here) dollars. There are matching, dress up, puzzle games, and A, B, Cs. Big $$ are being spent and made to ensure that our kids have a multitude of options to keep them entertained .

From a brand marketers perspective it is important to consider defining an application strategy that maps to a larger integrated digital strategy while also recognizing the opportunity to drive awareness and brand relevance through targeted mobile applications that provide benefit to parents while engaging and entertaining children.

Quick question, how many iPods do you currently have in your home? For that matter how many iPhones do you currently own? What are you going to do with your iPhone 3G, 3GS and iPhone 4 or Android by next fall when you inevitably upgrade to the next version?

iphonegens

Instead of trying your luck on eBay consider keeping the device for your kids. You may or may not know this but a non-activated iPhone functions as an iPod touch when not directly configured as a phone. Meaning your apps, web browsing via wi-fi, etc… are all possible.

As digital marketers we cannot ignore opportunities due to the accelerated adoption of technology.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

BlackFin360

Mobilizing Your Social Strategy

Today I was the host of the weekly Hashtagsocialmedia tweet chat. Our topic was integrating mobile with your social strategy with a focus on strategy, best practices and tactics.

Mobile is a hot topic and according to comscore with 234 million americans aged 13 & older using mobile devices in the US that trend is not changing anytime soon. Of that 234 million 49.1 million in the US now own smart phones. With the continued adoption of smart phones we are on the cusp of changing how mobile can impact a brand.

In today’s chat we discussed the following topics:

1) How would you integrate mobile with your social strategy

2) How do you maximize the mobile web?

3) What tactics & why? (Proximity, Geo-location, Augmented Reality, QR Codes, SMS)

All with the mindset of integrating and extending digital & social via mobile.

Here is the archive/transcript of today’s tweet chat

hashtag1

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

BlackFin360

Red Urban

RedUrbanIt seems that for the past 10+ years all roads have pointed in this direction. I have been involved with agencies since the onset of my interactive career.

From my initial entry during the original dot com boom with Fullmoon Interactive (full service interactive agency) to then moving on to become a co-founder of Smooth Fusion. SF provided the technical heavy lifting to enable campaigns for agencies in the Omnicom, WPP & Interpublic networks. The main constants were always digital + agencies.

For the last five years I have been on the forefront of the enterprise social media explosion thanks in part to my involvement initially with Telligent Systems (Community & Social Analytics driven platforms) then as the Chief Marketing Officer of INgage networks (Cloud computing based enterprise & gov 2.0 integrated social solutions).

During this time I had the privilege to partner and be a part of cutting edge usage of social media by a number of Fortune 1000 companies (Dell, Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Starbucks, P&G, American Express to name a few) and now I look forward to enabling brands via my experience with social strategy definition (KPI’s, ROI) implementation (Community, Crowdsourcing, Mobile, Consumer Networks, Social CRM) and measurement & analysis (Online buzz monitoring, Social Analytics) officially from the agency side!

I recently joined an extremely talented team at Red Urban (Dallas, TX). Red Urban is an OMNICOM group agency that provides comprehensive digital solutions for our end-clients and agencies throughout the Omnicom network. Our primary focus is world class creative & digital (Rich Media, Web, Social) strategy with an emphasis and expertise in integrating social channels and best practices into a brands digital strategy.

My role as the SVP, Digital Strategy will enable me to call upon every element of my experience in defining digital/social solutions while also keeping an eye to the future via emerging technology.

I definitely look forward to collaborating with our team and partners to deliver compelling digital campaigns that truly leverage the power of social as part of an overall digital strategy.