Few things can expose and endear audiences to a brand quite like a well-made viral video. A quality, shareable, engaging video series is a difficult thing to put together, and they are very rarely created by accident. The benefits are huge. A video campaign that not only promotes your brand but inspires its audience is the ultimate goal; the videos will often still be aired on TV, but hitting millions of views on Youtube or (increasingly) Facebook is the holy grail.
Just take Dove and Always, who in 2015 both created their own series of videos promoting self-confidence and looking to change attitudes that oppress women, whether it be beauty standards or perceived weakness. Both company’s videos have millions of views of Youtube and, when combined with strong Twitter hashtags such as #ChooseBeautiful, constitute a very effective campaign. The videos work because they promote the brand without even referencing the product, and Dove’s positioning as a company ’committed to widening the definition of beauty’ is - cynical as it sounds - a marketing masterstroke.
The cost involved in creating a video for TV or for Youtube - the intention of which is, always, virality - can be astronomical, though. Millions of dollars are spent by brands on talent, equipment and distribution fees, and not all have the luxury of being able to spend half of their marketing budget on creating a viral video that may or may not achieve the desired reach. So brands are finding alternative means of engaging audiences with video, using mobile apps originally intended to be social entities.
Digitally proficient marketing teams have utilized video hosting apps as a cheaper alternative. The nature of live video and short clips means that they can be very cheaply put together without weakening the brand. Snapchat, for example, is more akin to a Twitter feed than a shareable video; the videos or pictures are short, snappy, and transient. It puts marketing into the hands of a social team and is less about promoting a product than it is being interesting, engaging and (often) witty. In 2015, the WWF ran a campaign in partnership with Snapchat to raise awareness of endangered animals. The #LastSelfie campaign spanned Twitter, Youtube and Snapchat, and is a shining example of a well orchestrated, unified marketing strategy.
Periscope, too, has been exploited by brands throughout its brief history. The live streaming app has hosted over 200 million streams and has embedded itself well into the relative niche of live video. Youtube does offer live capability, but the use of this service on mobile is limited, and dedicated apps like Periscope are well placed to work their way onto potential customers’ smartphones. Brands are waking up to the new technology, with everyone from Red Bull to DKNY running live campaigns on the app.
Doritos - in promotion of the new Doritos Collision chips - live streamed things colliding into each other for a whole 12 hours. Viewers could tune in throughout the marathon to see, in slow motion, laptops smashing into watermelons, roller-skates colliding with milkshakes, etc. Nissan took a slightly different approach, live streaming the unveiling of their 2016 Maxima at the New York Auto Show. The move opened up an otherwise relatively select event, giving those tuning in a feeling of exclusivity as a kind of reward for their interest.
Whether it’s on Snapchat or Periscope, Facebook or Youtube, video has become one of the most important components of digital marketing. And, as companies become more aware of the alternatives to expensive and unreliable video campaigns, expect to see plenty more brand involvement in more social video apps in the years to come. Periscope once found virality thanks to a puddle in Newcastle, England that pedestrians were finding difficult to traverse; if pioneering brands can generate even a fraction of that buzz, Periscope will see many more innovative application of its currently niche service.