One of the first posts I recall seeing in my Vine feed from a colleague in RAPP’s London office, days after the mobile app launched, was the true-to-format six-second vignette of a message scrawling itself across a white piece of paper asking the question, “More pointless sh*te? Discuss.”
As marketers we are eager to prick, poke, and otherwise disassemble the latest trends, evaluating them for their ability to be added to the arsenal in our quest to help our brands be that much more relevant. And for many, these new, hyperabbreviated, earned-media formats seem to offer a new, creative advertising avenue to reach potential customers.
For example, a few weeks ago at SXSW, FeedMagnet announced that it integrated Vine into its social content marketing platform. Others are experimenting with platforms like Keek, Cinemagram, Poke, and Snapchat. And while it has yet to be made clear which, if any, of these app-based experiences will prevail as viable marketing channels (see above comment from cheeky colleague), it seems crystal-clear that the format has created a new kind of dynamic, with new, still-to-be-written rules and challenges for marketers who wish to take advantage.
Bacardi, a RAPP client, recently threw its hat into the ring with success. In a fairly straightforward, utility-based kind of way, the brand introduced a series of visually driven, six-second cocktail recipes via the Vine platform. Each video shows the step-by-step assembly of a cocktail, with clearly branded Bacardi rum as a core ingredient, a musical accompaniment to set the tone, a fun backdrop, and little else. From Cuba Libre to Oak & Coke, each microexecution of the campaign was tied to a Twitter hashtag and promotion on both Facebook and Bacardi.com. Results for the campaign exceeded expectations, doubling Bacardi’s Twitter reach and impression metrics for the campaign’s duration. So what went right for Bacardi? Here are a few things it did well:
1. Focus on utility and authenticity: Drink recipes are cool and useful. It is not a stretch for Bacardi to offer this kind of material in this format. It is credible for the brand. It is not trying to sneak into the community pretending to be something it is not.
2. Be clever--and simple: Six seconds is not the right venue for complex branded messaging. It is the format for clever, simple entertainment begging for creativity within very specific confines. TV ads on Vine--albeit short TV ads--are of no interest to anyone and will undoubtedly have the opposite effect intended. Bacardi TV ads are very different from the six-second cocktail vignettes.
3. Be nimble: These social media formats are of the moment--as should your content be. Bacardi introduced special drink recipes to coincide with seasonal holidays. I could see it creating special cocktail recipes based on the day’s news headlines: a Sequester, neat and with a twist? Other brands, such as Israel’s Delta lingerie and self-serve yogurt retailer 16 Handles, are using these tools to introduce flash sales or instant couponing. And if we've learned anything from Oreo, the Super Bowl, and Vine’s parent company, Twitter, then it is that timing is everything. If your brand can’t be quick at creating and distributing content, then Vine and Snapchat are not for you.
4. Last, see the whole board: A Vine execution, accompanied by a Twitter hashtag, Facebook page support, and a complementary Poke execution will help you generate the critical mass you want for these executions to go viral--assuming the platforms are right and have been adopted by your target audience. In the Bacardi example, Poke would not have been appropriate because the majority of the user base is below the drinking age. Understanding how these platforms work together and how your desired audience uses them is required knowledge in achieving success. As with most media, a clear and culturally informed social media strategy will allow marketers to create a whole greater than the sum of its app-based parts.
Are there other variables that make for a good and mutually profitable user experience? Sure. They include adding a game layer and nurturing co-authorship, as most of these apps are made for mobile and lend themselves to consumer-generated content. Also, under the premise of being nimble, be ready to get in and get out. It is still unclear for many of these apps whether they are really market-ready, with subcurrent behaviors like sexting and worse on these platforms keeping a number of marketers a way. If your brand can’t take the heat, then stay out of the Vine and Snapchat kitchen.
So, “more pointless sh*te?” For many, perhaps. For others, app-based platforms like Vine, Poke, and Snapchat can be healthy additions to an engagement strategy that can yield better user experiences, stronger brand loyalty, and ultimately better marketing results.