Startups must embrace social media and visual marketing phenomena such as selfies and Vines or risk being left behind
Charles Darwin once theorised “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent (...) It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” It’s a saying that could define the successes or failures of today’s smallest and biggest brands. In a world where social media is dictating our lives, it has never been so important for our small businesses to keep up with the zeitgeist or risk being left behind.
As new social media platforms and trends have developed, so has an attention deficit disorder amongst us all. Consumers no longer want to watch long promotional videos or read in-depth content. Quick, concise and quirky marketing techniques are the only way to capture the audience before they move on to the next shiny object, which is a mere mouse click away.
Fortunately for brands, there are plenty of social media formats and trends that they can take advantage of to make their marketing campaigns engaging and fun, whilst still reaching out to a huge audience. Platforms such as Vine, InstaVideo and Snapchat have helped to transform the marketing world, while trends such as selfies are so ingrained into our society that it would be foolish for businesses not to take advantage.
“The whole lesson that came from Twitter is how do we speak in a concise manner and how do we get across a concise message?” explains Rachel Adams, social media manager at O2. “Things such as Vine and InstaVideo really help businesses shape their proposition and what they’re trying to say by forcing them to say it in a short space of time.”
And while the ‘cool’ status of these hip new technologies may have given social media marketing a boost, the stats speak for themselves: Cisco expects that by 2017 video will account for 69% of consumer internet traffic, more than four times as much as regular web browsing and email. We’ve also seen how effective selfies are – so popular the word was added to the Oxford English Dictionary last year. And let’s not forget the no make-up selfie hashtag that raised more than £8m in just six days for Cancer Research UK. With HTC reporting that over 51% of people in the UK have taken a selfie, there’s clearly an opportunity for businesses to capitalise on such social media trends.
But with lower budgets and smaller audiences there is a question whether this is really something that’s feasible for SMEs to pursue. A+C Studios, an animation company, has used Vine successfully to help market its brand, and have just started publishing a new series of fun InstaVideos to explain what the company is all about. “I think it’s feasible,” says Dan Richards, director of A+C Studios. “If you do a TV commercial you need a big film crew lots of expensive equipment and lots of permission. But to do a Vine or InstaVideo, all you need is a mobile phone. It only takes a few minutes to set up the shot and post it online.”
It really is as easy as one, two, three. Technology has evened the playing field for big businesses and small businesses. Tapping into these platforms and trends takes no time at all. Starting a selfie campaign is as simple as uploading a photo and a hash tag, while starting a Vine or InstaVideo campaign just takes a few well thought out shots before editing, something easily done on a tablet or mobile with just a few clicks.
These social trends all have a common trait: they appeal to a broad and young audience. This means that brands must not only think about how to promote themselves but also how to make a quirky and entertaining campaign that will be able to get the most possible shares.
To get the best from Vine and InstaVideo A+C believes they must be fun and engaging, a lucid change from the promotional marketing of yesteryear. “The way social media really works is that you’re producing content that people want to watch and ideally people are going to share,” says Richards. “If we create something that we laugh at, hopefully our audience is going to laugh at it and the friends of our audience are going to laugh at it. The whole point for us is to get people associating cool and funny with A+C Studios.”
Nevertheless these campaigns still need to be thought out. It’s all well and good uploading a funny video, but consumers must be able to relate the video to your brand. Knowing your audience and tapping into relevant discussions is important to running a successful visual campaign. Simon Baldwin, consultant at Destination CMS, has used successful selfie campaigns to encourage a more interactive relationship between retailers and consumers. “The trick is to understand your audience and the message you’re trying to get out – don’t just put out content for content’s sake,” says Baldwin. “If you are putting things out that have a relevance to your audience then your campaign will work because they will like it, they will become advocates, they will become loyal and your messages will definitely get shared.”
Many SMEs may be dubious about starting such a campaign but its ease of use really does make it worth it. “I don’t really think that there’s a business that couldn’t benefit,” concludes Richards.