Short-form video content is gaining traction across industries, and investors and brands alike are taking notice. This month alone Jeffrey Katzenberg raised $1 billion for his short-form video venture NewTV, and Beijing-based Bytedance Technology Co., owner of the wildly popular short-form video platforms Tik Tok and Musical.ly, has a rumored aim to raise $3 billion in funding, which would value the company at $75 billion.
In retail, short-form video is a must for marketers, especially as more brands fully embrace social media platforms as part of their digital strategies for customer acquisition. This makes sense, given 90 percent of customers report video helps them make buying decisions, and 64 percent of customers say that seeing a video makes them more likely to buy.
While incorporating short-form social video content into retail marketing strategies might be a no-brainer, brand marketers can get tripped up when it comes to optimizing video across multiple social media platforms. No two social platforms are exactly alike, and a retailer’s content marketing strategy must embrace these differences and adjust video content accordingly based on multiple factors.
Below, I’ve outlined key considerations for creating short-form video content for today’s four core social media platforms.
While Facebook was once the first stop for brands when engaging with consumers on social media, Instagram has quickly taken over. Forrester revealed engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest and 84 times higher than Twitter.
Instagram offers brands several unique ways to meaningfully interact with consumers. A retailer can upload static, shoppable content in its feed, but increasingly, brand engagement is happening within Instagram’s video-centric Stories, and even its newly launched IGTV.
For brands harnessing Instagram as part of a video marketing strategy, there are a few key considerations to note. Instagram is a great platform for B-to-C interactions, with almost two-thirds of its audience under 29 years old. Furthermore, Instagram places a much larger focus on brand authenticity via Stories than most other social platforms.
All of these factors should inform a brand's content creation and prioritization on Instagram. Overly produced video that doesn’t feel real or genuine won’t fly. Videos should be (or appear to be) spontaneous and authentic for Stories, or inspirational, educational and/or episodic if produced for IGTV. Video content on Instagram should also be easily shoppable. On a technical front, shooting vertically and getting creative with the format can help differentiate a brand’s content. Another tip would be to incorporate subtitles and text to tell a story if a viewer’s audio is turned off. Lastly, don’t be afraid to incorporate simple animations to mix things up.
Despite Instagram having higher engagement, Facebook is still the No. 1 social media platform in terms of reach. Worldwide, Facebook has 2.23 billion monthly active users (an 11 percent year-over-year increase) and 1.15 billion mobile daily active users (a 23 percent increase year-over-year).
Facebook and Instagram’s end-user audiences can overlap, but a key differentiator to consider with Facebook is its advanced, granular advertising capabilities. Brands can use Facebook's turnkey advertising by leveraging Partner Categories — targeting options provided by Facebook's third-party data partners, like Acxiom and Experian, to help businesses connect with people who might be interested in their products. These select partners collect and model data from sources like brand loyalty card programs, giving brands the ability to place ads in niche buyer segments potentially in the market for everything from a luxury car to a favorite shampoo. And with recent privacy measures in mind, these ads are also transparent and controllable by the end user, where there's functionality to opt out, should they choose.
Facebook’s sharing capabilities should also be considered when creating video content for this platform. Facebook is a community that better fosters sharing compared to Instagram (at least for now). When creating short-form video for Facebook, consider content that provides the end user value so they're more apt to share it with their networks. While a brand might post an Instagram story of an influencer wearing its clothing in a real-life scenario, it would make sense on Facebook to post a short-form, how-to video explaining how one article of clothing could be styled four different ways for the fall season. The average Facebook post lasts five hours, however, three-quarters of the total engagement happens within the first two-and-a-half hours. For brands, this means the more shareable content they post, the more eyeballs will see it via organic reshares.
With Facebook, you can also use creative formats like Canvas, a custom immersive mobile experience that functions like a micro-site within the app. Users are invited to tilt to view panoramic images, swipe to explore carousels of images, or zoom in to view details — perfect for product launches or hero campaigns that deserve a little more time and space for audience discovery.
Creating video content for LinkedIn brings up a whole new set of considerations when compared with Instagram and Facebook — namely its audience. Unlike Instagram and Facebook, a retailer’s core audience on LinkedIn isn’t its end customer. The audience on LinkedIn is typically job-seekers or other brands and potential partners. LinkedIn is where retail brands should spend time building out a corporate thought leadership profile.
The video content created for LinkedIn therefore shouldn't focus on promoting deals, clothing items or shoppable products, but rather thought leadership content aimed at elevating the company and its executives’ profiles in front of a target audience of potential employees and partners.
For example, a leading clothing brand could feature short, five-minute Q&A-style interviews with top employees from its various departments focused on how they got to where they are in fashion today. Brands could create seasonal programing, such as a "Summer Intern Spotlight" focusing on bite-sized, digestible video content giving a behind-the-scenes peek at life as an intern. This is aspirational "talent brand" content, but geared toward an audience interested in getting more information on the culture and workplace of a particular brand they’re seeking out for potential employment.
Another great feature to take advantage of on LinkedIn is the platform’s targeted groups. On LinkedIn, a brand isn’t confined to posting only on its own feed, as it can join relevant groups and post educational video snippets to targeted audiences interested in specific types of content.
For LinkedIn, focus on authentic, value-driven content and make sure you’ve got subtitles included. Also, it’s important to note that Linkedin will use the first frame of your video as your thumbnail, so make sure it’s good!
Last but not least is YouTube, the world's second largest search engine. Consumers searching on YouTube are typically looking for two types of content from brands: product reviews and how-to guides/tutorials. It’s critical that a retailer’s branded YouTube channel is populated with content that meets this consumer demand.
Given how the platform operates, YouTube, for the most part, isn’t the right channel for real-time, off-the-cuff content. Brands should create semi-produced, short-form content that educates its audience. For example, a beauty brand could post five-minute, how-to tutorials featuring models applying various types of makeup from its product line. An athletic wear brand could share a video of a pair of sneakers in use by an athlete, and add in a time lapse element to show how the footwear holds up over time.
It’s important to remember that because YouTube is a search engine (and owned by Google), it typically has very high referral and conversion rates from content. YouTube should be a strategic component of a brand’s search engine optimization and digital marketing strategy.
A holistic approach to social media marketing is ideal for most retail brands. However, if you’re operating on a shoestring budget, take a step back and analyze what audience you’re trying to reach and what your end goal is with the content you’re sharing. This should help you narrow down what platforms to create video content for, and what video content could potentially be leveraged in multiple ways. While Instagram has the highest engagement, if your brand is narrowly focused on ramping up recruiting efforts, LinkedIn might be a better place to start. The bottom-line takeaway for retail marketers when it comes to social is that video matters. Viewers retain 95 percent of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10 percent when reading it in text. Short-form video content is the next evolution of social content marketing, and the tips and tricks above will help brands and retailers ensure they’re targeting the right audiences with the right message at the right time, which will drive brand engagement and, ultimately, sales.
Chad Lakin is vice president of North America at Shootsta, one of the world’s fastest-growing startups. Chad currently oversees Shootsta’s U.S. operations, bringing the transformational power of video to more brands and people around the globe than ever before.
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Chad Lakin is VP of North America at Shootsta, one of the world’s fastest-growing startups. Since joining Shootsta in 2015, Chad’s wealth of experience across video and digital — combined with his strong leadership and commercial talent — have propelled the brand’s growth into multiple new markets. Chad currently oversees Shootsta’s US operations, bringing the transformational power of video to more brands and people around the globe than ever before.