How to Tell Impactful Stories With Social Video

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Social video has been growing quickly for the past few years, but user preferences and viewing behaviours are still constantly evolving. UK consumers spend an average of 53 minutes per day watching some form of digital video, with mobile accounting for almost half of that time. There’s also an increasing preference for smartphones over more traditional media devices, which impacts the ways brands connect with their audiences.

At this year’s Social Media Week London, Adaptly President Sean O’Neal hosted a session on how advertisers can best tell impactful stories using new and quickly evolving social video formats. He was joined by David Wilding, Head of Planning at Twitter, and Angela Bertram, Senior Social Media and Content Manager at Carphone Warehouse.

Although paid social lets advertisers deliver engaging, carefully targeted messages, the way people use these channels is still developing. “These days, it’s all about vertical formats,” said O’Neal, kicking off the discussion. “Less than 30% of people will turn their phone to view a horizontal video ad and even when they do, they’re only watching 14% of the content.”

If done correctly, social video is one of the most powerful storytelling tools out there – second only to face-to-face conversation. “Most of us would agree that we’d rather watch a video about a product than read the same information,” continued O’Neal. “From an advertising perspective, social video drives ad recall and brand awareness faster than any other type of format.”

As the panel continued, we heard unique insights from Twitter and Carphone Warehouse. Here are 4 key takeaways from the session:

1. Design for Mobile

In just a few years, mobile phones have become the world’s most important media device. And since users hold their smartphones vertically 94% of the time, advertisers have to design assets that keep the mobile format in mind.

“You need to get into the nitty gritty of the creative,” said Carphone Warehouse’s Angela Bertram. “And in most cases, that means making sure that you are shooting things in vertical.” 90% of Carphone Warehouse’s social activity now includes some form of video, and she said the brand will focus even more on developing mobile-first creative assets going forward.

2. Keep It Short and Snappy

We are constantly bombarded with reports about shortened consumer attention spans, but the truth is that just a few seconds often is enough to make your brand message stick with social media users. Twitter’s David Wilding explained that while iconic brands like Chanel might find success with longer-form video on the platform, “it probably makes more sense for the majority of advertisers to focus on short and snappy content.”

His point was further emphasised by Bertram, who stressed that a longer video might fit naturally on a channel like YouTube, but not be at all suitable for Twitter or Snapchat. “You have to keep each platform’s native style in mind when creating assets for social,” she explained.

3. Drive Users Down the Funnel

The panelists agreed that social video is a very adaptable ad format, and depending on the business objective, it can be used to communicate with audiences throughout the entire funnel. “We’ve worked to build out an entire ecosystem of video, starting with humorous, awareness-building content and all the way through to more DR-focused activity,” said Bertram. “The trick is to serve users something fun and engaging at the top of the funnel, and then retarget them with ads that drive conversions.”

Wilding added that because video has become such a central part of Twitter, there are now even more ways for brands to make the most of it on the platform. “Video is not a strategy – it’s a tactic,” he stated. “The trick is to know what works best for your brand and your audience.”

4. Test Out New Formats

While the practice of live streaming has been around for quite some time, usage on social media is still somewhat in its infancy. As an increasing amount of people look to social channels as their primary source of both news and entertainment, live video formats help keep users informed of what is happening in real-time.

“Twitter has always been less about ‘look at me’ and more about ‘look at that,’” said Wilding. “As a platform, we are very much in the moment and I think we will see even more investment in live activity going forward.”

Bertram added that Carphone will continue to work on finding a balance between the structured and unstructured, growing their current efforts while also incorporating new formats like livestreaming and virtual reality. “There are always new things coming out, so we constantly need to stay on top of new developments in social,” she added.

Thanks to everyone who joined our panel at SMW London! To see more, check out the #SMWAdaptly hashtag and follow us on Twitter @Adaptly.