Tag Archives: visual storytelling

10 Things You Need To Know About Cinemagraphs

If short-form video was the previous content buzzword, in last months people have been raving about cinemagraphs.

Essentially they are individual instants of motion are isolated against a static image, “living photographs” so to speak. They have been around for a while though, invented originally by Kevin Burg & Jamie Beck. Because they work perfectly in visual mobile platforms (Facebook, Instagram), they have been generating more buzz in recent months.

As everyone is raving about cinemagraphs, here is a short cheat sheet to showcase that you know what you are talking about in meetings:

  1. Good cinemagraph should be hypnotizing.

The goal of a cinemagraph is to keep audience longer watching your ad. Same way as fire is hypnotizing, great cinemagraph creates a loop you end up watching longer than you intended.

  1. Good cinemagraph starts with great photo.

You cannot create an effective cinemagraph out of crappy picture. The movement will not capture your attention, photo will. The movement makes you watch it longer.

  1. Ideal for Facebook and Instagram.

The recent looping video in Instagram and FB autoplay are perfect vehicles for cinemagraphs. Cinemagraph is elegant format, which works perfectly to feed-based environments that do not use sound that much.

  1. You buy it like a video.

When considering the ad cost, you have to factor in that cinemagraphs are considered as a video instead of a photo.

  1. It is not necessarily always faster to produce than ordinary video.

It can take weeks to produce high-quality cinemagraph.

  1. Cinemagraph is great vehicle for product advertising.

Because you end up watching the video longer, ensure that your product is there to be seen. Besides ability to increase your brand recall, you can actually show the actual product inside the bottle as well (see below)

dolcegabbana

  1. Currently they are more viral than ordinary photographs

They have 71% more organic reach than regular photos.

  1. Ensure that you make the loop seamless.

Nothing looks more clunky than cinemagraph that does not loop properly. You want to create the hypnotizing effect (point 1)

  1. They will become more commonplace

As your profile image in Facebook can nowadays be 7 second video instead of just a static photo, people are becoming more adapt at creating their own

  1. Be creative

With relatively new format, we have only scratched the surface of the creative possibilities it can provide (like vertical videos). Experiment and test different cinemagraph ideas, the rules have not yet been set in stone.

Our digital world is getting more mobile and visual and the rise of cinemagraphs is just a one manifestation of that.

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How To Approach Your Social Media Strategy in 2014?

Year 2014 will be turbulent for both brands and agencies working with social media channels. Because of the recent IPO´s (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), the previous rebels have started to resemble more established media houses. It is a double-edged sword. Many agencies are not as stressed out as the social media ecosystem is more predictable (and none of the innovation labs is making money anyway). On the other hand, the activities have been and increasingly will be quite dull and unimaginative.

Beginning of the year is the time to think your social media strategy. For majority of the brands, year 2014 should be year of revolution instead of just evolution:

1.Facebook is the channel for reach.
Majority of your social media paid media investments should happen in Facebook to maximize the reach. In terms of sheer amount of users, it is dominant. However, the recent developments have been really worrying for brand (and other) pages as well. Certain pages have seen dips as low as 88% in organic reach. Even Facebook itself is not talking anymore about free organic reach, but instead brand pages as a way to increase the reach of the paid media. This is natural advancement and should not surprise everyone familiar with market economy. So I believe that Facebook will get bigger media share in 2014, but actually less focus in terms of engagement. I would invest more in those terms with Twitter (customer service, real-time marketing) and to visual platforms (content creation).

2.Use Twitter as the channel for real-time and customer service.
I am not saying that every brand should necessarily be in Twitter, but if you want to jump on the real-time marketing bandwagon, Twitter is the place to be. I have a love-hate relationship with Twitter throughout the years, but despite all the shortcomings the service has proven its worth. It does certain things really well (like customer service), and provides more natural ways to engage with audience than Facebook. Here is example of random interaction with Warby Parker, after I shared their innovative annual report:
Warby Parker Tweet

3.Invest heavily on visual social media channels.
Whereas online media money is going to Facebook, I would concentrate majority of the production and engagement investments to visual social platforms. No one has time to read text anymore, unless you are able to condense it to 140 characters or say it in photo.
Online video has been the fastest growing online ad format for couple of years. Naturally the pre-roll is the TVC of the new generation, but creation of good content provides great reach & engagement opportunities for brands. Video is a great tool for customer service as well:

Besides video, the photos are naturally huge and I expect the short-form video content to rise rapidly (Instagram video, Vine). Especially tutorials are naturally fit to for shorter video content (Check: #lowesfixinsix).
Many companies should actually rethink their community manager talent pool. In 2014 if you cannot take great photo or shoot a great video, you should not probably be community manager.  Social media used to be more verbal, but now it is increasingly more visual.

4. Embrace the renaissance of anonymous randomness.
Contrary to what Facebook says, many people want to remain anonymous while online. 6% of all adults on Internet use Reddit. People engage way more on Tumblr blogs nowadays than on Facebook brand pages. One reason is that not all the people want to attach their Internet personality to real-life. In Internet you can be that backpacker hiphop-dude you really are and do not need even remotely to try to sound smart. It actually reminds me of the original promise of MySpace. You did not need to use it with your real name. You could make a site for your cat if you fancied. Anonymity can naturally bring some problems, such as hate-speech, crime and stuff but it also enables refreshing randomness that is currently missing from Facebook. Many people are more interesting talking about things they are interested and not about themselves (assuming they are not completely narcissistic). So do not underestimate the power of “anonymous” social media channels. Maybe Yahoo was on to something when it bought Tumblr.

5.Experiment with the new upcoming channels.
I have written before about how you should approach your social media strategy like investor. The landscape in terms of the hot newcomers changes really rapidly. Global brands should nowadays be more tuned into what is happening on local level. Experimenting with various social media channels goes hand in hand with that. For example if you had done tests with Path, it would be easier to utilize the learnings in Indonesia (which is the third-biggest Path user country). The innovation in social media sphere is also not limited only to Silicon Valley anymore so cutting-edge firms should empower their local teams to experiment with local social media channels as well. For example WeChat is way more advanced than WhatsApp. Competitive advantage can come from everywhere. The trick is to identify it, experiment with it and scale it.

There will interesting year ahead. In 2014 companies need to dramatically update and revamp the social media strategies. Which is great. Whenever there is turmoil and crisis, there is always an opportunity.

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Social Media Trends 2014: The Truth According to Me

Good folks at Kurio Digital Marketing Think Thank asked me (again) and 21 other Finnish digital dudes & dudettes some views of social media trends in 2014.

In many ways the social media scene has matured and the shifts are not as radical as they were few years back. Many of my answers from last year would not be out of place this year (last year trends can be read here). As majority of the readers of my blog cannot read Finnish, I have translated my predictions below. If you can understand Finnish, the report is highly recommended read.

Before going to my answers, it is important to make the distinction between a fad, a trend and a commodity. Every new thing starts out as a fad (i.e. Snapchat is in that phase). Majority just stay as fads (Chatroulette), but certain things evolve to trends (i.e. brands building their Facebook pages few years back). Only very few make their route to become commodities (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube at the moment). Trends do not pay the bills, so usually only when something is commoditized it starts to make safe business sense. In that way you should approach your social media marketing efforts like investor:

70% of investments to commodities (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube)
25% to trends (Taking selfies)
5% to fads (Snapchat, Vine)

This is naturally subject to your risk tolerance and your business majority. If you are start-up with nothing to lose, it might sense to flip it other around. And do not get me wrong, my view is that brands should try to ride the trends and fads more proactively. It is just important to realize their business role (such as learning, gaining the opinion leadership, creating the future competitive advantage). Riding on the fads seldom is the way to reach masses.

So with that caveat my social media trends (with couple of commodities and fads thrown in as well):

 1.Biggest Social Media Trends in 2014: Monetization & Mobile-First
There is two big paradigm shifts which are not really trends, but changes which have already happened but keep
a) Money (Show it)
Twitter did the IPO this year, which will affect the user experience. I doubt that the success will not be as good as with Facebook. Mass social media channels are increasingly more bought media than earned media. Therefore community manager or social media director without also access to bought media budget is a position without any real power. In many ways the advancements in bought media (i.e. programmatic buying) have also been way more interesting in recent years than say in, content marketing.
b) Mobile (First)
The switch to mobile is not a trend, it is a change which has already happened.  Consumers  switch wildly between different channels, platforms, devices and even use them at the same time! This puts extra pressure to understanding the consumer journeys. You cannot really understand those journeys without constant testing, measuring and optimizing. Secret to crack the mobile-first challenge is to think holistically consumer-first.

 2. Social Media platform to look out for in 2014: Anything related to visual storytelling
I have talked about selfies before in this blog and they will not go anywhere next year (hopefully twerking will not disappear either). All the applications, which help you to modify and enhance will be hot items next year. China will show the way in this trend. Also, we have to also remember that selfie is a communication vehicle as itself. Combining IM and visual storytelling will be a big thing. Instagram has actually addressed this already with its Direct offering.

3. Biggest challenges in doing social media marketing in 2014: Processes block the real-time success 
Old processes stand in the way of the really great real-time executions. Year 2013 was disappointment in terms of real-time marketing. There were couple of nice stunts, but we should be able to do better than just dunk in the dark (Oreo is still pretty much the only proper case study example). The briefing process that is suitable for traditional big brand campaign just does not fit faster requirements of real-time marketing. My personal New Year promise is to concentrate even more in creating and executing more streamlined, collaborative and more agile way to make real-time success stories next year.

4. Social Media Buzzword, which hopefully disappears in 2014: The whole talk of the social media
If you are still in 2014 talking about social media as a separate unit, you are more old-school than the person still using FourSquare. Consumers switch smoothly between devices and platforms and between virtual and real-life like it ain´t no big thing. What is actually the difference between digital and real-life nowadays? How can your firm address the needs and the behaviors of these consumers in every relevant touchpoints? To separate social media from other digital activities or other activities is just laziness and shutting your eyes of the reality. Digital scene is more fragmented than every before. Therefore it is more crucial than ever to create a big picture of those fragments. We do not need any more social media specialists (or digital specialists for that matter). We need 100% digital people who live and breath like their consumers and have the understanding and empathy to connect with them (and also means to be in the right touchpoints).

 5. Biggest social media hope for the next year?
I do not hope, I just do. And measure, optimize and do it again.

Predicting the future is too much work, I rather create history.

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#Selfie: New Way of Communication or The Tipping Point of Narcissism

I ran a marathon last Sunday (in time 3:58:55 if you want to know) and I noticed people taking photos of themselves with smartphones during the run. The act of taking selfies did not seem to cause accidents in Singapore like in Hong Kong, but selfie-taking is truly fascinating phenomenon and the selection as the “word of the year” by Oxford dictionary underlines the importance.

Last year I wrote how Pinterest is the tool for lazy & self-obsessed and cynically you could say that selfie is the tipping point of that laziness and narcissism. You do not even need to be interested about anything particular expect yourself. However, when looking more closely the selfie-picture is more revealing than your average duckface:

Visual storytelling: Selfie is about the process, not the end product
In your average marathon you have professional photographers almost in every turn. So taking a selfie is not about having a photo of yourself, it is about taking the photo as well. Selfie is about being the creator and the subject. How you take the selfie is almost as important as how you look. Do you take the photo from up or down, portrait or landscape and what is your pose? Do you squinch, smize or prune? I think where many analysis go wrong is that taking a selfie is a purely narcissistic endeavor. Many times selfies are not solely about how you look, but what is the message you really want to convey. What is the moment you want to capture? As the visual storytelling becomes more and more important, taking a selfie is same as sending SMS was to my generation. Like Frédéric della Faille (founder of Frontpage) concludes in New York Times article:

“The idea of the selfie is much more like your face is the caption and you’re trying to explain a moment or tell a story. It’s much more of a moment and a story than a photo. It is not about being beautiful.”

When people wondered why Facebook offered three billion for Snapchat, this is the main reason. Selfies are a new communication vehicle. Why Snapchat turned the offer down? Maybe they have clearer vision in the selfie crystal ball than us. Or they are just crazy.

Looking good: Expect the rise of selfie-enhancing tools in 2014
Although me, myself & I are not the only drivers for selfies, they are naturally the main ones. Teenagers taking selfies at funerals or exposing private parts in Snapchat are sad examples of selfies. Selfies strengthen the worrying trend of overtly focus on appearance even at younger age. You are bombarded everywhere with certain beauty ideal, how you will match it?

Well, if you do not have the right looks naturally you can always fake it.

Modification and enchanching the selfies are huge opportunities for innovation and quick monetization. China is leading the way on this one. Meitu Xiu Xiu (super simple photo editor) is already one of the most popular apps there, and Momentcam reached no.1 position in Appstore also beyond the China borders. If people are spending so much time taking photos of themselves, natural next step is that they will spend more time polishing them. That will enable them either to look good (Meitu) or tell their story or capture the current moment better (Momentcam).

The selfie-phenomenon will not disappear soon. More likely we see acceleration in the amount of selfies. What started from teenagers has already expanded to adults. According to Samsung study 30% of all pictures taken by 18-24 year olds are selfies. That is quite many gigabytes of duckfaces. Soon you will see your parents taking selfies. And you remember what happened when your parents joined Facebook?

When the trends get tired is the moment when they come commercially interesting.

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