Which Online Video App is Right for You?

Instagram introduces a new long-form video-sharing platform that underlines the importance of video content in marketing, public affairs and political campaigns.

Instagram introduces a new long-form video-sharing platform that underlines the importance of video content in marketing, public affairs and political campaigns.

Instagram, the popular photo sharing app, stepped up its game in a big way last week by launching IGTV, a mobile video app for iOS and Android. IGTV allows users to shoot vertical video on their smartphones, and upload an hour’s worth of video, up from its previous one-minute limit. IGTV is accessible from a button inside the Instagram home screen, as well as a standalone app. Users can create their own content, and access popular videos from Instagram celebrities.

By declaring “Game On!” to online video rival YouTube, IGTV could prove to be a worthy competitor in the video-sharing space. Some industry analysts are even predicting that Instagram, and parent company Facebook, are challenging the future of television with IGTV, pointing to the “TV” in the name of the app, and the “static snow” effect that appears in the app when users switch from one video to another.

Clearly, the impact of IGTV on the current state of television or online video remains to be seen. In the meantime, there are plenty of existing apps and platforms that B2B and B2C content marketers are using to create and post engaging video content. Here’s a sampling:

YouTube: This is the granddaddy of the free online video content-sharing sites. YouTube is owned by Google, so you can expect YouTube videos to show up well in SEO searches. On the other hand, the sheer popularity of YouTube videos can make it difficult for your specific video to gain traction with its intended audience. There are the annoying pop-up ads that appear on your video, and the so-called “related” videos that appear after your YouTube video ends. But if you want maximum SEO search capabilities, and don’t care about pop-up ads or other forms of brand clutter, YouTube’s your platform.

Vimeo: This video platform is preferred by filmmakers and producers of high-quality videos. Vimeo is a paid service for business, but the advantages include no ad overlays over videos and brighter video and cleaner audio. Unlike YouTube, you can make changes to a Vimeo video without creating a new URL link. This is a time and money saver, especially if you have a video you plan to update on a regular basis.

Facebook Live: This service allows users to broadcast live video from their mobile devices straight to their Facebook News Feed. Use this app to share up to 90 minutes of live events, interviews or other user-generated content. Users can access the Facebook Live option when they post an update to their Page. They’ll be able to see who’s watching their broadcast, as well as read and respond to any real-time comments. After the broadcast has ended, your Facebook Live video will remain visible on your Facebook stream.

Periscope: This is Twitter’s live streaming video app. You’ll need a Twitter account to shoot video with the app. When you download Periscope from the App Store, you can subscribe to the Periscope broadcasts of those you follow on Twitter. Periscope played a key role in American politics in June 2016 when Democratic members of the US House of Representatives staged a sit-in on the House floor to protest gun control. When the House session was halted, and the cameras shut off, Rep. Scott Peters (D-California) used his Periscope account to broadcast the sit-in and speeches, which was live streamed by C-SPAN.  

LinkedIn: In August 2017, the world’s largest online professional network jumped into the B2B video arena by launching LinkedIn video through its mobile app for iPhone or Android. Users can record their own video in the app or upload previously recorded content. In May 2018, LinkedIn introduced video ads for sponsored content. According to the company, the sponsored content video lives directly in the LinkedIn news feed. Similar to the Facebook Ad model, LinkedIn’s Sponsored Content video is a paid service, with pricing levels based on pay-per-click (CPC) or pay-per-1,000 impressions (CPM).

So, what does it all mean?

It means video is a huge part of the online experience, with as many different uses for video as there are apps and video platforms. It’s easier than ever to create and post your own videos, but the glut of online video content makes it hard to rise above the noise.

That’s why content marketers and professional communicators need to get crystal clear about the audiences they want to reach, and the messages they want their audiences to hear, so they can produce visual content that is engaging, memorable and meaningful.

Holly and Wayne Paige are video content marketing strategists and creators based in Portland, Oregon. They use the power of storytelling to produce videos for businesses and organizations that want to tell their stories – and tell them right. Visit: and


Personalizing a Brand Promise

TOMS CEO Blake Mycoskie fits a Peruvian child with shoes. The company recently utilized virtual reality to help tell its story. 

TOMS CEO Blake Mycoskie fits a Peruvian child with shoes. The company recently utilized virtual reality to help tell its story. 

Virtual reality could expand from video gaming to empathetic storytelling, placing viewers in the middle of the action worlds away.

TOMS developed a virtual reality video that transports its shoe buyers to a dusty, mountainous village in Peru where they see the faces of children who receive free shoes as part of the company's buy-one, give-one philanthropy.

The TOMS store on NW Burnside Street in Portland is just one of seven around the world with the equipment to play the 4-minute video, which had its inspiration in a TED talk by virtual reality film producer Chris Milk. TOMS executives saw virtual reality video as a way to dispel disbelief in its cause marketing One-For-One brand promise.

Critics don't dispute the reality of TOMS donating shoes. They take aim at its claims that half of all TOMS profits go to philanthropy, asserting instead that buyers actually pay for two pairs of shoes in the purchase price. Other critics condemn TOMS for failing to locate factories in the countries and communities where it gives away shoes to poor people.

The TOMS virtual reality video is unlikely to dispel those criticisms. However, it will make the TOMS brand promise more personal for its loyal customer base because it draws them deeper into the giving experience than a regular video or a photo gallery.

Produced for VRSE by Oregonian Susan Hebert, the video zooms over the remote area where the Peruvian village is located, takes you along the bumpy road into town and plops you among the villagers. You see children in their schoolyard, watch as they are measured for new shoes and enjoy dancers in native costumes. At times, the children look straight at you and, in a couple of cases, actually greet you.

The video is part of what TOMS calls its "Give One, Experience One" campaign. Other than flying to Peru, it is the next best thing to actually being there to see your contribution to philanthropy at work.

Carole Conkling experiencing TOMS new virtual reality experience at the company's Portland store. 

Carole Conkling experiencing TOMS new virtual reality experience at the company's Portland store. 

Virtual reality filmmaking involves using a camera array to shoot a panoramic, 360-degree scene. The technique produces four simultaneous frames that when viewed through special goggles give the illusion you are watching something occur around you.

The TOMS viewing site in Portland is in the corner of a store, next to the coffee bar, which supports improved water supplies in rural villages. It consists of a single swiveling chair. You move your head or swivel in the chair to scan the full scene. You are, in effect, there.

In his TED talk, Milk calls virtual reality video an untapped format for storytelling, especially for stories that draw on empathy. You don't have to paint a picture to fire someone's imagination; you place them at the scene to experience it first-hand. You are not part of an audience; your experience is unique, much as it might be if you were on location yourself. 

It was an adroit choice by TOMS to use this pioneering storytelling technique, which adheres to the company's social entrepreneurship reputation. (The Portland TOMS store has a wall-sized map depicting the various pathways of its business philanthropy, which also include eyewear donations.)

While virtual reality video may not be a tool that is available or affordable enough for most companies and organizations to pursue, it will be, especially as its 360-degree format is adapted to computer and mobile device screens so you don't have to wear special headgear. Google Cardboard already exists for DIY "immersive experiences."

The lesson for today taught by the TOMS video is that fresh approaches to storytelling can make tried-and-true stories come alive again.

Seductive Tactics, Strong Strategy

The magic of public relations is more science than wizardry. Strong strategy — sound reasoning that guides your objectives and tactics — is the key to lasting success.

Tactics can be very seductive — the promise of a website, a television spot, a Facebook page, a brand video. Strategy becomes an afterthought or, worse, left out altogether.

Catching inspiration from a video or social media account is great creative fuel and will be essential in the creative development process. But when you’re building your PR plan, strategy comes before creative brainstorming. Strategy is the rock to ensure your efforts are on firm ground to achieve results. Strategy lets you move from guess-and-check marketing to a place of confidence.

To help you develop the right strategy for your brand goals, good PR professionals will ask questions such as:

1.  Why are you interested in a specific tactic? Do you think a video (for example) will make your brand appealing to a new demographic? If so, appealing to a new demographic is at the heart of the matter, and we’ll help you develop a strategy to get there.

2.  Do you have research on your target audience? What do you know about their media consumption, daily habits, values and interests?

Visual Sharing Like Yearbook Party

Videos, followed closely by photos, are the content most likely to be shared on Facebook. If you aren't posting videos and photos, you aren't engaging your online fans to the fullest extent possible.

According to a report from Zuum, a social media insight tool, videos and photos have a much stronger probability of being shared than status updates or links. Facebook has made it easier for brand pages to offer visual fare, and the brands that enjoy the highest level of engagement are feeding their fans eye-catching treats.

Of course, it is not an either-or situation with visuals versus words. A mix of relevant material is best. But failing to post videos and photos, including those that are user-generated, is a mistake.

Sharing visual content is what has spurred the remarkable growth and usage of Instagram and Pinterest.

Writing about this trend, Jon Thomas of Story Worldwide provides some compelling examples of visual branding, including Oreo's striking rainbow cookie to celebrate gay pride. The simple graphic generated 300,000 likes, more than 90,000 shares and some 60,000 comments, Thomas reports. Plunging into a controversial subject earned Oreo lots of pushback. But if its goal was engagement, it succeeded.

Visual Storytelling: Child's Play

Children's storybooks delight children and parents alike because of the dazzling interplay of words and pictures. Their success underscores the power of visual storytelling.

"Sure, picture books are great, but I never could do anything like that," is a typical refrain. The truth is, you can tell a story visually if you let the child in you out.

Martin Salisbury, an illustrator, and Morag Styles, a professor of children's literature, collaborated on Children's Picturebooks, The Art of Visual Storytelling. The book describes how these books charm young and old and the key stages of conceiving a visual narrative.

In an interview with NPR, Salisbury says the appeal of picture books is "the simple visual style [that] allows readers to project their own personalities and thoughts onto the character." Sparking imagination in viewers leads to engagement. And that engagement can be etched deeply in the memory, as reflected by how many pictures and phrases adults remember from children's picture books.

Visual narratives aren't dumbed-down narratives or merely pictures added to illustrate words. "It's that issue of condensing something into something very elegant and short, usually 32 pages, which is very, very complex to do," explains Salisbury. "Making it look simple and elegant is perhaps the hardest thing to do."

It also takes hard work, much the way Mark Twain meant when he said he would have written a shorter letter — if he had more time.

As understatement has fallen out of favor to the more raucous exchanges of reality TV, visual communication remains a source of subtlety. In his NPR interview, Salisbury cites Rosie's Walk as an example of pictures telling a subtle story. Rosie the hen struts through a farmyard while a fox stalks her in the background. The text never mentions the fox's intentions as it describes a series of misadventures by the fox. Nevertheless, children invariably shout at Rosie to watch out for the fox. In marketing, we call that subliminal messaging.

Growing With Web Video

Getting stories placed in newspapers, radio and TV continues to be a tough challenge as the traditional media confronts shrinking resources. Definitions of newsworthiness change. Don’t give up on the media, but increase the chances for success by telling your own story via web-based video, going as directly as possible to targeted audiences.

It is getting easier all the time to get video on a homepage. Even digital cave persons can do it. Even cash-strapped local governments and nonprofits. CFM has worked with many different groups, particularly nonprofits, in coordinating video production. Here are a few pointers.