Although the image-to-video ratio is still high, there are a number of brands who are using Instagram to connect with their audience via original, or repurposed, 15-second video content. Those strict timelines have forced marketing teams and creators to be inventive, and responsive to their target audience – 15 seconds doesn't sound like a long time but viewers will still bail if the creative doesn't capture their attention at the beginning. Because there isn't any kind of effective search method for Instagram video (yet), potential viewers have to subscribe to a brand's channel (or other social network where that content may be shared). Viewers have to 'lean-in' to participate, which means that the strategy for producing short-form video on the platform needs to be one that secures a subscription from the user. We've talked a lot about content strategy for YouTube, and of course, the same should apply for any video marketing strategy.
The good news is that when brands make the effort to produce great video footage, and to really connect with their fanbase then that can pay huge dividends. A study from Unruly confirmed that 40% of the most-shared Instagram videos come from brands, which is encouraging considering the competition they face from pop-stars and Hollywood celebs. We look at 4 car brands, Mini, BMW, Toyota, and Mercedes-Benz, who are using Instagram in a creative way.
We have consistently highlighted the current Instagram video campaign from Mini, as one of the most cohesive and innovative we've ever seen. The car manufacturer reached out to their audience on Instagram, and also on Twitter and Facebook, and asked if they had any questions for the little car. The crowd-sourced response has led to some excellent creative content from the Mini team, and demonstrate how a coordinated social media strategy can really work and inspire all involved.
Quick – tweet your questions with #asktheNEWMINI now.
— MINI (@MINI) May 17, 2014
The team has produced around 32 response videos so far. Here are two of our favorites, each of which attracted a decent number of views and comments. Note how each video stands alone, and wraps up its story within the time allowed.
BMW has 1,081,707 followers on Instragram, and although it is not producing consistent video content, the brand is using the platform to drive users to its site. The video below, is encouraging users to become a more active part of the online BMW community. Beamer owners, and fans, are invited to share their own BMW stories to Instagram/Twitter via the #BMWstories hashtag. The best will make it to BMWStories site, and get a push on social media from the brand.
— BMW (@bmw) May 20, 2014
Toyota (specifically Toyota USA) are very active on social media, and has produced some very exciting Instavids. One campaign invited the viewer to create their own environment around a particular model. This video, for the Prius, takes it place alongside #LetsGoPlaces videos for the Avalon, the Camry, and the Tundra.
Earlier this year, the brand collaborated with Disney to promote the car manufacturer, and the new 'Muppets Most Wanted' movie. The campaign was a risky one, often not featuring the cars at all. We loved this particular, surreal one, which even made a feature of a missing co-star.
As a luxury brand, Mercedes is all about buying into the lifestyle. The images uploaded to its Instagram account are gorgeous, and inspirational. The videos focus in on a feature, such as the sound of the engine, or the exhaust, or the way it handles the road. The company also likes to show off the Merc in its natural habitat – the racetrack, the motor show, and on winding European roads.
Mercedes has also been successful in re-purposing footage from other projects. Like this beautifully-shot time-lapse video from a Barcelona photoshoot which attracted over 16,000 likes.