I was recently invited to speak at the CIM social video boot camp, where I demonstrated some tips for how brands can get the best from social video apps.
However as the apps have gone through many updates over the past 12 months, I thought I’d share with you some more practical, technical advice that has come to light.
Hopefully this should help you make the most out of social video.
See the time constraints as a challenge, not a hurdle
The premise of social video is to record short bursts of video on a mobile phone and share them immediately on their respective networks and beyond. With Vine you have six seconds, Instagram you have 15.
This evolution from mere photo-sharing is largely in thanks to improvements in connectivity with 3G, 4G and widespread access to WiFi.
Vine came before Instagram’s introduction of video and you can argue that its six-second length is the nadir of our depressingly dwindling attention spends, but instead you could think of it like a video version of a haiku.
There can be great beauty and simplicity in having such tight constraints, and having this narrow timeframe means that people have to work harder, and experiment a lot more with their storytelling techniques to create something meaningful.
If you’re making a series, film them all in bulk
Pretty straightforward this one. If you’re making a handful of videos in the same location, using the same actors and resources, film them all in one go. This is will save a lot of time and budget.
Don’t forget that even if you made 20 Instagram videos, it would still only take five minutes to watch them all. Don’t be tempted to fire them all off in one go.
One afternoon’s worth of work can provide months worth of regularly scheduled content.
Sharing across channels
There is something very important I should mention. Instagram is owned by Facebook, Vine is owned by Twitter.
As you’d expect that means that it’s far easier to share an Instagram directly with Facebook, and it’s far easier to share a Vine to Twitter. If you cross the channels, the result can look pretty crappy.
Facebook tends to push Vines write down the newsfeed, and when you share an Instagram with Twitter, it just comes up as a link in the tweet rather than an embedded video, which we all know is far more attractive.
— SODIUM (@ShotBySodium) November 5, 2014
It’s kind of spiteful, but there are workarounds.
Remember that whenever you create a video in Vine or Instagram, it saves the clip as a raw file to your phone. So you can use that to upload directly to the rival channel. You’ll then find your Instagram video will suddenly appear as a nice embedded tweet, and you can similarly upload your raw Vine as a Facebook video.
It also means you can upload a Vine to Instagram and vice-versa.
Not massively convenient, I know, but using each channel in their own native way means a much bigger payoff, with only really 30 more seconds worth of fiddling with your phone.
Or just use IFTTT
If you’re familiar with IFTTT, there are various recipes that will do the hard work for you. For instance ones that will automatically upload your Instagram as a Twitpic.
If you’re not familiar with IFTTT, read our handy guide: What is IFTTT?
You can edit and upload existing footage from your phone
If you’ve filmed a series of shots, you can actually rearrange the order they appear in, and trim the edges down on either side of each shot.
You can also upload new footage that already exists on your mobile phone and add that to your existing Vine.
It’s really handy, so you don’t have to start all over again every time something goes wrong.
It means you can make ads like this now…
Imagine how heartbreaking that would have been if you had to start from scratch after messing up the final shot.
On Vine, stay down-to-Earth
Basically don’t be put off by Vines like this…
You don’t have to be as mind-bendingly creative as Zach King, bear in mind that most of his Vines are worked on with post-production software like After Effects before being uploaded.
You don’t have to do that.
The most popular Vines from everyday users are just completely lo-fi, easy to make, and cost no money whatsoever. For brands it’s a good idea to do the same thing.
All the best Vines have a sense that they can be made by anyone, no matter what budget or skill level.
Here’s an example from Disney.
Disney has all the money in the world, but all this took was some patience, a steady hand and a prayer that there wouldn’t be a strong wind.
Ford is another one. It’s a massive car corporation that’s used to throwing money at Brian May to write songs for its slick ad campaigns, but for its social video campaign it has completely altered its brand perception by making Vines that are funny, down to Earth and a bit weird.
I don’t really care about cars, or Ford, but after watching a series of similar videos to these I have a newfound respect for the brand.
The best Vines feel like they could be made by anyone.
On Instagram, use the filters
Instagram is less aesthetically forgiving then Vine. Instagram users expect a slightly higher quality video and image than on Vine. But it’s also easier to make your videos look good.
For what not to do, check out this post from Burger King… (click to play)
Although I quite like the fact that Burger King doesn’t try to artificially make its burgers look different from the actual product, because of the terrible lighting and unimaginative background the results are deeply unappealing.
It’s inexcusable seeing as Instagram comes with a whole range of filters that you can use to brighten things up. All it would’ve taken was a press of a button.
Download apps to expand the Instagram experience
Hyperlapse is a new tool has been introduced by Instagram that allows you to make timelapse videos.
It is a separate app that you need to download, but it links directly with your Instagram account so sharing is completely integrated.
It’s basically just a good way to cheat if you need a video to last longer than 15 seconds, especially if you want to demonstrate something that takes a while to explain.
On Vine its easy to share other people’s videos with the ‘Revine’ button, unfortunately that’s not the case with Instagram.
However, there are third party apps you can use which will repost other people’s images, giving them full credit at the same time.
The app that I use is called Regram 7 and so far it’s worked pretty well.
Images shared through the app on Instagram look like this…