A festival goer takes in the scene with his smartphone. Image by Haags Uitburo via Flickr.

A festival goer takes in the scene with his smartphone. Image by Haags Uitburo via Flickr.

Social or mobile video arrived on the scene in earnest one year ago with the launch of Vine. Now, with an expanding landscape of platforms and a growing number of users, brands are lining up to be the next buzzworthy social video case study.

As with any viral pursuit, there isn’t a prescribed path to short-form video success. To get started, brands consider two approaches for leveraging these social video apps:

1)    Broadcasting – publishing just like fans do

2)    Crowdsourcing – turning an audience into an army of brand content creators

Broadcasting was explored in a previous post, so now it’s time to weigh in on the advantages and drawbacks of fan video crowdsourcing.


Crowdsourcing takes engagement to the next level, going beyond likes and comments to truly get fans involved.

Existing Behaviour – “Fans are already in on the action!”

Fan-uploaded videos for a brand outnumber officially produced videos 10-to-1, according to research by Zefr. While there’s no question that most of these fan videos won’t be that compelling, what matters is that people are creating videos about brands in the first place.

Zefr also uncovered the following eye-popping stats on the prevalence of fan-generated videos:

99 percent of CoverGirl’s 251 million YouTube views are from fan-generated videos.

92 percent of Oreo’s YouTube views are from fan-generated videos.

99 percent of Revlon’s views come from fan content.

Whether a fan prefers sharing videos on YouTube, Vine or Instagram, the challenge is on the brand to serve as the director for fan video content. Contests, promotions, hashtags and calls-to-action can serve as the ringleader for a tuned-in audience of expressionists equipped with smartphones.

Sales Boost – “Video crowdsourcing can impact the bottom line!?”

It’s not surprising that digital word-of-mouth through fan-produced testimonials, reviews, unboxing and other creative brand and product showcases impacts purchase intent.

But how much does it help? ComScore research found that user-generated video on product pages increases sales effectiveness by nearly 19 percent.

The same study also showed that professionally produced videos work well in tandem with user-generated video, boosting sales effectiveness by over 35 percent.

Network Effect – “Our own army of content creators with a built-in audience!”

Crowdsourcing is a powerful driver of engagement. As fans share their brand-related videos (12 times more than other kinds of content), the brand benefits from the free exposure and the surge of relevant video content added to the social ecosystem.

To produce a TV ad last fall, Airbnb challenged fans to shoot specific segments of a short film using Vine. Creative fans were intrigued and over 750 Vines were submitted. Although only 100 made the final cut, every single Vine was exposed to its creator’s audience, driving curiosity and interest to the effort.


Even though “crowdsourcing” is a buzzword, user-generated video still isn’t a common element of a brand’s social media mix. In this section we’ll explore just why that is.

Scattered Content – “YouTube, Vine, Instagram, Facebook… I can’t keep up!”

Fans might be regularly uploading brand-related videos, but there’s a lack of consistency and organization to it all. How can a brand drive value from content that is inconsistent and scattered across different platforms? It’s a time-consuming process to search for and review content on every video site that matters. And once that’s done, where does the content go?

Quality – “People suck at making videos.”

Photo apps might make people think they’re the next Ansel Adams, but no video app can mask creative ineptitude – at least not yet. Think about the difference between the best Vine you’ve ever seen and one your friend created. Six seconds can’t end soon enough sometimes.

Speaking of quality control, there will always be haters lurking to pounce on any branded effort. From adding inappropriate content to branded hashtags to completely hijacking a campaign, UGC programs will always contain some level of hater noise.

Short shelf-life – “What do you mean, you can’t find it? I posted it yesterday.”

The secret to crowdsource is in the crowdsauce. Image by stev.ie via Flickr.

The secret to crowdsource is in the crowdsauce. Image by stev.ie via Flickr.

Vine and Instagram are platforms that facilitate a broadcast, or blast-sharing experience. This means that if a follower is not tuned in or viewing the app within one day of publishing, chances are they will never see it.

While each platform is improving its web experience to consolidate user content, the standard in content consumption has been established.

Is your brand ready for video crowdsourcing? Smartphones are increasingly becoming the dominant device in people’s lives, which means your customers are likely walking around with a video camera in their pocket at all times. So the real question is: What value will you gain from that video camera?