Think BR: The top brands using social video

Mads Holmen, planning director, goviral
Mads Holmen, planning director, goviral

How can brands better utilise social video, asks Mads Holmen, planning director, goviral.

Goviral recently released the first ever Social Video Equity Report, outlining the top 100 brands in 2012 that have succeeded in making impactful branded content. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Red Bull took the top spot, with Google, Disney, Nike, Samsung and Old Spice following closely behind.

When we released the list, it was pointed out that the top 10 brands all have a natural fit for social video. But if we go back to basics and look at the core brand proposition, the likes of Red Bull and Old Spice are actually far from natural content makers - operating in very low involvement categories.

Instead, the categories you might expect to be leading the charge in social video such as the alcohol, technology and motor industries, are often sitting nearer the bottom of the list. Perhaps it is more the historic brand approach that makes them natural in people’s eyes - rather than any natural properties of their product or characteristics about their target audience. 

In fact the brands that occupy our top 10 are diverse in nature and yet all create content that is innovative and engaging. If we for a minute accept that with a carefully planned and executed content and distribution strategy, any brand can reap rewards in social video, what can we learn from those brands doing it really well?

Our data was actually compiled before Felix Baumgartner broke the speed of sound by falling 128,100 feet to Earth - but the Stratos project perfectly illustrates how the Red Bull brand has been completely elevated beyond the product by applying a long term and brave approach to its content making. Its content interrupts the user and enriches conversation clearly demonstrating the benefits of brands moving focus from the ad spot to editorial content.

Coca-Cola has been completely open about its video strategy with a firm commitment to investing in longer form content that creates ongoing conversations with its customers beyond traditional media channels.

The brief was to make Coca-Cola as special to a new generation, as it is to the previous. Kids now grow up in a world with over 200 soft drinks on offer and the Coca-Cola sees content and strong channels as a key component in building and maintaining the kind of emotive relationship with consumers that has carried the brand throughout the last 50 years.

Within the industry, Old Spice has become one of the most talked about viral video executions. Its inaugural campaign, The Old Spice Guy, used a perfect combination of humour and social engagement to completely disrupt the social video space. Hosted exclusively with Vimeo and with a focus on participation and interaction, the brand has done it again in 2012 with Muscle Music.

Humour has also been employed really well by Samsung in 2012, tackling Apple’s dominance head on for its S3 model in ‘the next big thing is already here’ campaign.

On a global level Samsung is shifting awareness activities to create dialogue with tech influencers which has seen the phone manufacturer take 5th place this year whilst Apple has fallen short of the top 10.

By bypassing traditional routes, truly inspired content and a strong distribution strategy opens up doors for brands to own the conversation with their customers, resulting in millions saved in ad spend.

It’s a shame that so many brands that operate in a rich territory for social video fail to seize hold of the opportunities it presents. Too many create nothing beyond TV creative while others create hours and hours of stale content, which sees little or no engagement from users. These are both usually a recipe for mediocre results in the social video space.

A closer look at the likes of Red Bull, Coca-Cola, Old Spice and Samsung reveal a common thread of originality. Social video is by no means reserved for a select group, far from it. But to really cut through and achieve social equity, brands need to grow a voice and not be afraid to be first or lead a conversation; at goviral we call this move ‘from ads to assets’.

In this context, an ad is a fixed commoditised format (say a 30 seconds slot) destined for a broad audience via push media - it is not designed to take on a life of its own outside of the bought media that supports it.

When we stop paying for TV, display, pre-roll or paid search they all disappear without leaving a legacy.

Assets on the other hand have longevity. They deliver value for the brand and the consumer as a stand-alone piece of content, invoking engagement, conversation and sharing. They are lighthouses for the brand designed to stand the test of time in social and editorial environments.

Rather than sitting in a commoditised format, they compete for users attention inside the conversation, rather than alongside it. Investing in assets is investing in long-term audience growth and retention.

This is exactly why platforms like Google, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook are rapidly changing their rank algorithms towards engagement - rewarding websites, videos or wall posts that deliver great user experience.

We are entering a future where pushing traditional commoditised ads will be increasingly unsuccessful in connecting with a generation of consumers who are in control of how their media consumption. You have to give in order to get something in return - just like in real relationships.

Mads Holmen, planning director, goviral

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