A social video guide for brands

So you want to get into video content marketing.

Those who are excellent at video content marketing make it look easy, leaving the uninitiated with high hopes and a crushing sense of reality once they start researching the work that goes into a well-executed and branded piece of video content. Should you be live-streaming? On Meerkat, or on Periscope? Should you be on both? What about Google Hangouts, is anyone still doing those? All the kids are on Snapchat, right? What about the more established longer-form video platforms like YouTube and Vimeo? Or Vine? And what about the social media platforms that have a video option, like Instagram and now Facebook? It can all be a little overwhelming. Let’s break it down, so you can figure out which social video platforms are right for your brand, based on your resources and goals.

First things first: What does each platform do?

Live-streaming platforms:

  • Meerkat: A live-streaming app where footage is not accessible later. Twitter pulled their official card access after launching their competing acquisition, Periscope, leaving some to speculate on Meerkat’s eventual fate. (Update: Meerkat now lets you connect with your Facebook friends on the app.)
  • Periscope: Owned by Twitter, it’s a live-streaming app with videos you can replay later. There’s a private broadcast option as well. (For a more in-depth comparison of Meerkat and Periscope, read this.)
  • Google Hangouts: Face-to-face video conversation where your broadcast is automatically recorded and uploaded to YouTube after you’re finished.

Prerecorded video platforms:

  • Vine: 6 seconds of glory, but recent research shows you only get about 3 to catch your audience’s attention, so don’t rule it out for length.
  • Instagram: Videos on Instagram are limited to 15 seconds, giving you a lot more creative room than on Vine.
  • Snapchat: Send quick snaps in video or photo form, or build bigger and longer stories using both; stories expire in 24hrs whereas snaps last for the duration set by the sender (up to 10 seconds). Recipients can replay one snap a day and they can save snaps by taking a screenshot, but it tells the sender you did so.
  • Facebook video: Facebook has recently launched their own native videos, which autoplay on the site (and the same 3-seconds-to-catch-your-audience’s-attention rule stands) but without volume. Another recent update has made their videos embeddable on other sites.
  • YouTube: The granddaddy of video, they’ve been moving into the original content space as more and more of the younger generation move away from traditional TV (and even admire YouTube personalities over celebs). YouTube offers a lot of tools for building your audience, advertising, and being part of the Google family makes it good choice for SEO rankings.
  • Vimeo: Another option for brands producing high-quality video is Vimeo, which gives you branded players and the ability to embed elsewhere as on YouTube. Here are Vimeo’s brand guidelines.

So what is each platform best for?

As more users adapt to these newer platforms and shift with changes on the established ones, they’ll come up with new and creative ways to use them. In the meantime, here are some ideas for how you can use each platform based on what we’ve seen in the wild. Choose according to your brand’s goals, the type of content you’ll be producing with the resources you have available, and first and foremost, where your audience is.

Live-streaming

  • Meerkat: Livestream an event that’s part of a series to get people interested in coming next time- a conference series, or an interview with a well-known expert in your industry- but they have to buy a ticket to the next one or catch the stream in time. If an element of exclusivity works well with your brand’s audience, then this might be the best approach for you. (Update: Meerkat now lets you save video in a library, but you choose what is public, so this strategy might still work for you.)
  • Periscope: Livestream a speech or presentation to increase your audience. Share the playback to your established audience that might have missed it, and be sure to watch it yourself to help you tweak your delivery for next time.
  • Google Hangouts: Google Hangouts function best for meetings and the recordings are often best suited for internal use or transcribing an interview. However, long pieces can be edited down into a summary and other usable pieces. It’s not a bad idea to start with longform content and repurpose it across other platforms, given you have the time and resources to do so.

Pre-recorded video 

  • Vine: Got a clever way to show a how-to or answer a question? Vine’s for you. (Econsultancy does a monthly roudup with great brand examples on Vine.)
  • Instagram: For creative that’s a little longer than 6 seconds that you want to fit into your overall visual brand, there’s Instagram. Post a clip from longer content, as mentioned above, share tips and tricks, or even produce a series of short videos like Gap did for their spring campaign.
  • Snapchat: If your target audience is young, then sending fun behind-the-scenes Snapchat stories is a great move embraced by a lot of the brands currently on the platform. Here are some other creative ways brands are using the platform, from Convince & Convert.
  • Facebook video: If your audience is dedicated to Facebook, you might want to consider making this your video content hub. If you’re already invested in YouTube, you can repurpose content from your channel for Facebook or experiment with Facebook-exclusive content. Here’s a great example of shifting strategy from PopSugar on Digiday.
  • YouTube: Your video hub- create a dedicated brand channel from which you can spin off side-channels, if that makes sense for your content strategy, brand, and resources- from which you can repurpose content into smaller, shorter videos for all the above, aforementioned networks.
  • Vimeo: ReelSEO has a great breakdown of the differences between YouTube and Vimeo for brands, depending on what your priorities are. If you’ve got the resources, consider optimizing videos for both.
Putting a first generation iPod on a really old television is not a recommended video hosting platform. Image via Alexandre van de sande on Flickr; used with Creative Commons license.
Still not recommended. Image via Alexandre van de sande on Flickr; used with Creative Commons license.

What else should I know?

It’s probably worth mentioning the biggest con in live-streaming video: Not everyone is a natural in front of the camera and with the lack of editing available when you’re streaming live, well, unless you’re famous or dealing with extremely topical subject matter in an entertaining way it can be tough to find an audience. The golden rule of content applies here as it does everywhere else: Be sure you’re creating content that’s of value to your customers and making it available on the platforms where they prefer to spend their time. Put in the work to find out where that is, and what it is they want from you.

Any more questions?

Leave ‘em in the comments. Just remember to have fun; your audience can tell when you are.