How to tell brand stories in six second increments

The rate of change in the digital and social media channels communicators and marketers use to tell their stories and get their messages across is frightening in its pace and intensity.

The rate of change in the digital and social media channels communicators and marketers use to tell their stories and get their messages across is frightening in its pace and intensity.

On a daily basis, PR and marketing pros have to make decisions about which new channels to engage with and what the regular changes to existing established channels mean for the way they do business.

An 'Every Second Counts' feature in our PRWeek Digital Issue suggests big brands are still searching for the best ways to integrate short-form video such as Vine and Instagram into their marketing and communications.

We're tracking a lot of this on our sister brand The Hub, with this morning bringing news of Instagram's intention to allow ads on its platform, initially in the US. Following the photo-sharing site's attempt to change its terms and conditions after it was acquired last April by Facebook, users may be wary of this, but the platform assures it will only offer ads that are as “natural” as the photos and images already shared on Instagram.

The marcomms community will want to assess how it can use this opening up of a 150 million-strong audience of mainly young people to tell brand stories, while at the same time monitoring what they do on established platforms such Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine, YouTube, and Google+ - plus emerging channels including Snapchat, Path, Thumb, Ning, and so on.

Clearly the days when it was just broadcast and print media that communicators needed to have on their radar are over; it's a constantly changing and confusing world they're occupying now.

In-house folks will look to their agencies to help them navigate the new marketing eco system, and our mission at PRWeek is to help too.

The other night I attended the Vine Journalism Awards at Twitter's HQ in New York City and picked up a few tips from Mark Luckie, manager of journalism content at Twitter, about using its Vine platform (I guess these tips apply equally as well to Instagram, but of course the Facebook subsidiary is persona non grata in Twitter's hallowed halls).

While Luckie was principally aiming his advice at journalists, here are six tips for telling effective stories in six seconds that are just as relevant to brands, and worth repeating here.

  1. Share access – consumers love to get a look behind the scenes of a brand, to feel like they are “in the know”, and short-form video is an excellent, and cost-effective platform for doing that
  2. Talk with people – interview people who are part of the brand, and also consumers, to build a community of interest
  3. Be creative – prioritize creativity over production values; even a pioneer such as Meagan Cignoli will only spend a maximum of 2-3 days on a production
  4. Crowd source – short-form video is an engaging way to solicit feedback on questions relating to your brand
  5. Explain concepts – explain why your brand or corporation is doing certain things in a short, snappy format
  6. Preview upcoming content – give sneak previews of upcoming events or use Vine for incremental brand reveals or news releases

Greg Galant of Muck Rack, which was sponsoring the awards, noted that Vine feels now like Twitter did back in 2008, so it's a great time to be pioneering and establishing new channels of communication with your stakeholders.

Don't be daunted, dive in and test the water.

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