Will Instagram-like Apps for Videos Become the Next Big Thing for Brands?

Visual communication is a much-discussed topic here on the blog. A couple of weeks ago I talked about how brands can use the photo sharing app Instagram to create visual engagement. Today I’ll take a look at how brands are using video sharing apps to strengthen their brand identity.

Video sharing apps
Photo sharing apps have been popular for quite some time now – both for individuals and brands. Lately, we’ve seen a large number of video sharing apps exploding in popularity for individuals, and notably the apps SocialCam and Viddy have been labelled the “Instagram for video”.
Brands, however, have only just started seeing the potential of using these motion picture platforms to engage with their fans.

The two before-mentioned apps share some similarities: Both apps allow you to shoot and edit your videos, to add filters to them like on Instagram as well other effects such as music. But most importantly they allow you to share your videos instantly with your fan base – and the social experience of the apps is certainly what makes them so popular to brands and individuals. However, there is one major difference the two apps between: the length of the video.

Branding through video sharing
With the Viddy app you can shoot and upload a 15-second video clip, whereas there are no limits to the length of the videos shot with SocialCam.
This difference implies two different branding possibilities. The short videos allow brands to showcase the core of their brand. Though the short length of the video limits how much you can unfold a message, it also forces you to come up with witty and innovative ideas to quickly make your message come across and to communicate it very concisely. The short format consequently makes the message more clear in the minds of your target audience.

The videos on SocialCam often require users to invest more time, as they usually are longer, but this also makes it possible to create more elaborated stories. SocialCam is a very powerful promotional tool, as is opens up for more detailed storytelling possibilities and allows brands to use this free advertising channel to distribute videos to their target audiences.

An example of a brand that has jumped on the trend is General Electric, who is using both Viddy and Social Cam. Thereby they are telling the brand’s story both through 15-second long videos giving the user peeks of e.g. behind-the-scenes clips as well as creating more detailed videos with artistic narratives about the brand’s performance, such as the video you see below showing the analogue representation of the technique.

So there is a great potential of showcasing small stories of your brand world that will give your fans a glimpse of what your values, vision and brand identity are through video sharing apps – whether it’s through a very short clip that shows the core of your message or a longer and more elaborated story.

Get Ready for the Bots – on Facebook Messenger

2Facebook Messenger was released 5 years ago and now has over 900 million users. Originally receiving a flood of negativity towards a standalone messaging app, compared to one simple Facebook app, users seem to be warming to it. The decision to make it standalone does make a lot of sense, since messaging is a big part of people’s lives nowadays and Facebook even bought the domain messenger.com to launch a version for web browsers last year. Their 900 million users will more than likely be merged with Whatsapp’s 1 billion users, which means that Facebook will have the personal phone number of every single user – sounds like $19 billion well spent.

 

Open for Business

So that’s humans covered. Where to go next? Facebook is now venturing into their next Messenger-based project: bots. If you haven’t been keeping up, Facebook launched Messenger Platform last month, which holds within it, chatterbots. Luckily, these bots are not machine learning bots, such as the disaster that was Microsoft’s Tay. They do have some humorous replies if provoked but they ultimately steer the conversation back to the subject they’re designed to cater for. Thanks to their highly advanced Send/Receive API, these bots are able to reply with actual structured messages, including links, images, hotel reservations, the weather etc. You may immediately compare this to Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Now and Amazon Echo, but what sets bots on Messenger apart is the fact that businesses can develop them, which in turn gives them another way to develop customer service. Simply put, bots could end up changing the world by replacing humans in such job sectors. Without the bespoke customer service integration that Messenger bots provide, the above voice-activated services will most likely not be able to solve business-related queries themselves. Having said that, the way bots behave is very reminiscent of the way Siri does. Maybe they’ll talk to each other one day and we’ll get the best of both.

 

Customer Service and Added Value

So how can these bots work for brands? Well, eventually, every major company in the world will have an account, which will be a first port of call when contacting their company. The reason this is almost definite is due to Facebook’s already-mammoth-sized network of users. It doesn’t get any bigger than Facebook when advertising to individual people, so connecting Messenger bots (as customer sales reps, for example) is extremely attractive. Messenger codes, one of many things taken from Snapchat, will also make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers. One industry example is how bots will almost certainly change how banking works for the consumer, replacing an app or web-based system with a dialogue with a machine that is able to understand your every need. The option to send money within Messenger itself is highly likely too, like Snapchat allows. This could also eliminate the hassle of speaking to a bank’s voice recognition system when calling by telephone – no more time (and money) wasted by the dreaded “I didn’t catch that. Please try again.” These voice recognition systems are essentially bots done badly, but they’re based on voice, which is a lot more difficult to translate into zeros and ones. Plus, you cannot autocorrect your voice (yet). I can see this whole system being replaced by bots – it could even connect you to a human advisor with ease, as you’re most likely already using your phone. Even if you’re using the desktop version or Facebook Chat, I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Besides banks, what other markets will benefit from this? Restaurants, travel and possibly supermarkets with online shopping services are big industries for it to thrive. The healthcare industry could also be a large portion – Healthtap have already created their bot, which isn’t surprising considering one of the first ever chatterbots was called DOCTOR and simulated a psychotherapist. In fact, the potential amount of markets are endless for this stream of interaction – just like it is with human customer service.

 

At the end of the day, customers are moving towards messaging as their preferred choice of customer service. And as generations progress, it will no doubt become the standard – a phone call will most likely be reserved for long, meaningful conversations with friends and family, which in turn will add even more meaning to them. The phone call will no longer be taken for granted, but talking to robots will be.