How many words will Flipagram kill?

— Chris Talago 

The answer is 1.8 million words per minute of video if you believe the researchers.

By 2017 video content will account for 69% of the world’s consumer internet traffic.  Half of that is going to be via our smartphones. YouTube already has one billion unique visitors per month and four out of five of the world’s fastest growing social platforms this year have still or moving images central to their content (Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr). Flipagram is the latest to wow.  Last year it grew faster than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat did in their first year.  It’s now hitting 33 million active users per month. They’re sharing 700 million clips per day! …and that’s just on one, relatively new, platform.

Despite this prolific rise most comms campaigns still lag woefully in their adoption of the power of pictures.  Axonn Research reported that seven in 10 people view brands more positively after watching interesting video content from them.  In crisis conditions it’s an excellent way to quickly make a company’s response feel more human – to put a face on the brand.

While Twitter and Snapchat focus on ‘the moment’, they don’t really address our desire to look back, to curate our memories and relive experiences or share them in a deeper way. Platforms like Vine, Vimeo, Pinterest and Instagram probably also offer brands and their evangelists a greater variety of deeper engagement and (re)discovery with their audiences… Twitter for responsiveness but other platforms for depth. Now Meerkat and Periscope are mixing the two – video for depth but with live streaming for immediacy.

I’d say we’re now in our fourth phase of our image consumption journey – First we saw mass access to video/images as bandwidth increased and started the rise and rise of YouTube – content was shiny, glossy and produced by ‘the few’.  Next came mass access to content creation tools and apps, the huge proliferation of personal content and the rise of vloggers.  In the third phase we saw content sharing apps begin to offer greater variety and get noticed by the social gorillas.  It also marked the ever more present multi-media story which merged written content, video, animation and forum commentary to create much more powerful content.  It’s a little old now, but the Guardian’s ‘Three Little Pigs’ is still worth a view. Most of this was watched by us from our laptop or PC… now the next wave sees mass adoption of mobile to view video, live streaming apps and even more options to curate content.

The proliferation of platforms is causing no shortage of headaches for comms teams – not least how brands adapt their style to enter these new platforms and which ones are the right ones?  Some of the headaches are much older… rich data tracking and measurement has long been a challenge.  Unless it’s tagged in a way that makes it easily searchable video, pictures and audio have presented challenges in being able to accurately track and quantify impact or influence.

So if you’re a comms director, brand manager or product manager, what do you do next?

1.            Believe that yes, It is your remit! Comms teams have sometimes felt that pictures, moving or otherwise, were the responsibility of a different team, or really there just to support a written story.  Wake up. Look at the data. You need to tell your brand’s stories using all the tools at your disposal.  Increasingly that will mean not just integrated video in a campaign, but video first… and mobile first. 31% of the world’s web page views are currently served to mobiles – that’s a 12 month increase of 39%

2.            Understand the difference between platforms.  Whether it’s Periscope or Meerkat for streaming content or Flipagram, Instagram, Pinterest, Vimeo, Vine, YouTube or Facebook – play around with the video/picture tools to get a feel of what’s possible and what functionality is planned to arrive next

3.            Just because you can doesn’t mean you should… what does your audience value?  Would they want entertainment or information through these tools? Be able to answer ‘why’ it would benefit them – then you’ll be better able to understand ‘what’ they’d want.  Here’s a revolutionary thought… Maybe you could ask them?  Ask some of your brand evangelists to experiment with the platforms and give them access to new content in return?

4.            Everything’s connected.  Make content easy to find and share.  Some of these platforms represent tectonic moments in how people live their lives online.  Mainstream interest group migration across platforms will not be immediate. Our campaigns need to be integrated and introduce users to new content in different places.  Encourage them to try something new.  Some moves will be much more rapid and violent – just look at the data on use of video and Instagram in both the online and offline retail experience

5.            Experiment – no-one has the answer yet… it will take time to really understand how to best influence audiences across some of the newer tools… BUT, it’s pretty inexpensive to do and all brands can find value in the mantra of restless experimentation

6.            Metrics still matter… Even in the pilot stage you need to agree what you want to achieve and why it’s important.  Understand how you’ll measure success, when it starts and stops and what the inter-relationship is between platforms and content type

Any lastly… creativity trumps cost of production every time.  Remember you need to entertain your audience as well as (and likely before) you try to inform them.

Have fun – post a Flipagram (chris.talago) to let me know how you’re getting on!