Social media changed the game for content creators and brand managers.
According to Bob Hitchcock, editorial content director for Disney Parks, it was social media that created the “big gray abyss.”
“It used to be a really black-and-white world,” he says. “You had a commercial-type production unit or agency handling all your slick commercial content. Then you had PR, PA and internal comms working on that authentic editorial-style content.”
Now brand managers must navigate shades of gray as editorial teams try to incorporate slickly packaged content in various formats to break through online, and as marketing teams go looking for a bit of that authenticity that is PR’s secret sauce.
One thing everyone can agree on: Video is hugely beneficial when programming content on social media.
Video can make its own headlines, like Cricket Wireless’ 24-hour livestream that set a Guinness World Record, a project spearheaded by Lauren Thomas. In her role as senior manager of communications and social media for Intuit, Thomas says social media video can help audiences engage with traditional marketing efforts.
She points to Intuit’s Super Bowl ad that featured a character called “Robochild” who wanted to grow up to become a CPA.
“We took the character from the TV spots and created content … and released the content in real time during the big game after our pre-spot teaser aired and around the big game time spot,” she says. “That really helped us to drive activation online.”
Thomas also has plenty of tips for would-be social media broadcasters.
“Social media isn’t like ‘Field of Dreams,’” she quips. “It’s not like ‘if you build it, they will come.’” She says that it is important to think of how you are promoting your video or livestream to build an audience.
She also adds that livestreams shouldn’t be considered the same way a live broadcast on television might be. “You can interact with your audience in real time,” she says, “leveraging other channels like Twitter to drive people back to the stream.”
She advises that communicators continually think about how they can “surprise and delight” an audience and get them to engage with the channel online during the stream.
She also says its important to think about viewers who will watch later, after the stream is over.
“A lot of the views still come after the event,” she says. “How can you drive engagement with the content after it is live?”
You content can be repackaged and repurposed, but only if you create your material with an eye to the future.
“I say shoot once and use it thrice,” says Thomas. “Can you pull GIFs from it? Can you pull shorter videos from it? Maybe it’s creating a blog post around it or cutting it down into a two-minute video for Twitter.”
When less is more
However, not every organization should be on every platform.
Madison Kozacek-Hantho, social media marketing manager for Vancouver Clinic, says it is important to consider whether live video is a proper fit for your organization. For a medical facility, for example, legal liabilities loom.
“We can’t do live video, because we can’t control what people will say or who might walk through the video that you should have a had a release for. … It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen,” she says.
She also adds that as a health care provider bound by HIPAA laws and other concerns, some video platforms are just a bad fit.
“We have to stick to channels we can have full control over,” she says. “It’s important to recognize that not every channel works for every industry.”
For example, Vancouver Health decided to delete its YouTube channel and focus instead on Facebook ads because it couldn’t control the videos that viewers would suggest to them. Viewers who had watched a video from an OB-GYN doctor or nurse about the birth experience, for example, might see a suggestion for a video that did not align with the hospital’s message.
For Kozacek-Hantho, the damage done by YouTube’s algorithm wasn’t worth staying on the platform.
Getting leaders on board
The panelists also shared stories about how hard it is to get executive leaders to buy in to a video strategy.
For Kozacek-Hantho, the video series she wanted to create that humanized doctors in 30-second spots got pushback from hospital leaders, because the plan was to introduce the doctors by their first names. These were medical professionals who had worked hard to achieve their honorifics and were uneasy about the tone of the campaign.
Kozacek-Hantho says it was only after a bunch of the videos were posted that doctors started to buy in.
“We had to get 10 or 15 videos in … before we got some credibility for the campaign,” she says. “You might not always get buy-in up front.”
Hitchcock agrees, citing a brand story about a baby giraffe born at a Disney park. The team was instructed by management to get one kind of story that in Hitchcock’s opinion didn’t have the emotional heart to grab an audience.
However, instead of making a fuss, Hitchcock did both stories, one that hit the marks for his bosses, and another that profiled the connection between the giraffes and the staffers taking care of them. When the emotional story did better per analytics, Hitchcock felt vindicated.
“With executives, sometimes you have to go out and just prove it,” he says.
To learn more, listen to the full episode: