Image by Alex via Flickr.

Image by Alex via Flickr.

Today in obvious statements not to belabour: Mobile video is poised for explosive growth.

As smartphone adoption soars – equipping the pockets of the masses with cameras – and Vine and Instagram duke it out for consumer video app superiority, a cluster of brands are flocking to be first, to be cool, or just to be there.

There are two basic approaches brands take when leveraging social video tools:

1)    broadcasting

2)    crowdsourcing

Broadcasting is leveraging video publishing tools the same way an individual does – pushing content out for an audience to watch.

Crowdsourcing is leveraging an audience to serve as an army of brand content creators.

Both of these methods can deliver value to a brand, and in this post we’ll explore the pros and cons of the broadcast approach.



Cost – “Intern, get your smartphone out!”

 Simply put, mobile video content is free to publish and cheap to produce. Below are a few quality examples of brands capitalizing on the simple nature of broadcasting through social video.

Dogfish Head Beer got creative on the bottling line:

Nissan kicked off their #VersaNote campaign with a pug assist:

Speed – “Press the magic publish button, get eyeballs!”

 Brands can quickly blast shareable content to fans via social video applications. There’s no better example of this than Calvin Klein’s instant reaction to the Super Bowl’s power outage:

Feedback – “They really like us!”

Another virtue of mobile videos is that fans provide instantaneous reactions to the content once it’s posted.   This feedback comes in many forms (likes, comments, shares, retweets, replies, etc.) and can be used to drive further engagement.   For example, Topshop got more than 31,000 likes and 382 comments after posting this stop-motion product spotlight on Instagram (good thing they didn’t play a Prince song in the background):s

The cool factor – “We totally just joined the conversation!”

Having a presence on a popular app gives the perception of being a cutting-edge, social media savvy brand.   Many fashion brands quickly jumped on the Vine bandwagon to showcase their products and digital chops:

Bump  – “I can’t hit refresh fast enough to keep up with all these likes!”

Publishing videos on social media can generate a temporary engagement boost. While tracking Lululemon’s activity on Instagram Video, Simply Measured found that fan engagement on its videos was more than double that of photos.

Image via Simply Measured.

Image via Simply Measured.



Limited reach – “All of my friends use Instagram, so the rest of the world does too, right?”

 Even if the majority of your target audience owns a smartphone, only 10 percent and 1 percent of them use Instagram and Vine, respectively. This means the bulk of your audience has no idea how clever your brand is in 6 or 15 seconds.

Short lifespan – “Roller coaster, not hockey stick.”

Content within social video apps is built to drive views, comments and likes within a 24-hour period. After that, fans are less likely to ever see the video.

Take a look at the engagement chart below from the same Lululemon study mentioned earlier. Zero content was posted on 6/25, leading to minimal engagement.

Image via Simply Measured.

Image via Simply Measured.

Minimal engagement – “Beyond likes and comments.”

Broadcasting is built to maximize eyeballs, not facilitate a community video experience that connects fans with the brand and each other.

Even when brands incentivize fans to share videos, the results can be underwhelming. Urban Outfitters ran a Vine contest offering the chance to win two nights in San Francisco, $1,500 in gift cards and 10 pairs of Converse shoes. Less than 20 people participated.

Limited business value – “Remind me why there’s a social media team on the payroll.”

ROI is not a common metric for social videos since it’s difficult to drive (and track) meaningful business outcomes from them.

That said, we’re inching closer to a time when the C-suite understands the value in social engagement.

Whether the pros or cons tip the scale of broadcasting with social video depends on the brand. But in the end, a brand’s broadcast success can be driven by realistic expectations, an efficient process and – above all – a great story to tell.

Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll explore the wonderful world of fan video crowdsourcing.