On June 20th Instagram unveiled the newest feature for its photo-sharing app: The addition of videos up to 15 seconds using 13 different filters. As evidenced by YouTube’s huge success, video sharing has become a major medium for sharing products and connecting with others. So how is Instagram’s new video feature any different from existing video programs such as Vine? And will it open doors for new ways to reach targeted audiences with interesting, dynamic content? While it’s impossible to tell which technologies will flop and which will meteorically rise, Instagram’s take on video sharing holds the promise of great marketing potential for several reasons.

Access to Instagram’s 100 million members. An obvious advantage to using video sharing on Instagram is a connection to the vast number of people who already access the program regularly. Like Facebook, Instagram offers a diversity of demographics constantly hungry for new content to share, like and promote. Every marketer hopes for “viral” content that will spread organically, friend to friend, providing widespread exposure with minimal investment. Instagram’s already rapt audience is ready to facilitate the spread of videos–given that the videos are interesting, creative, funny or cool enough.

The use of Instagram’s widely popular filters. One of the features that distinguishes Instagram from prior picture sharing sites is its use of filters that allow users to brighten, fade, saturate and just generally personalize their photos. Put simply Instagram allows users to make ordinary photos look extraordinary–whether that be tinged in vintage hues or blurred into artistic obscurity. Similarly, marketers now have the ability to easily create video content that reflects the brand or campaign image through the use of filters. With endless possibilities that do not necessarily require professional graphic design abilities to manufacture, Instagram’s video feature opens doors for highly creative, cost effective content.

Instagram’s 15-second cap on video content. It can be hard to communicate an effective message in 6 seconds–which is exactly what Vine requires. Because Instagram offers lengthier content, brands have the ability to string together a video clip that tells a complete narrative. At the same time, 15 seconds falls short of a full television commercial length, reminding its creators to keep content succinct, clean and to the point. Because of shortened attention spans and the constant inundation of information, Instagram’s 15-second videos may be the perfect length to draw audiences in without overstepping the fine line towards every marketer’s dreaded consumer reaction–boredom.

What do you think of Instagram’s video sharing? Is the sky the limit?

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For years, healthcare marketings have been promoting “5-star” rated services and persuading patients to lead healthier lifestyles—without being able to show these tactics work. That’s because we’ve been measuring the wrong things.

That is, until now. These days, access to highly effective marketing and communications tools are at our fingertips in the form of social media, websites, and search engines to create dynamic, measurable ways to engage your community and drive bottom-line results.

Are we measuring the right things?
Traditional marketing communications have been notoriously difficult to measure. Sure, we’re able to measure response rates to direct mail or TV/print ads. We’re also able to count how many people sign up for health events or lectures. By using a customer relationship management (CRM) database, we can measure downstream revenue.

Over the years, we’ve taken credit for influencing outcome by tying together these loosely connected measurements. But sometimes these results took months, if not years, to calculate. And were we really measuring success?

Health care reform, which is forcing us to radically re-think what hospitals provide, also puts pressure on hospital marketers to measure patient engagement and bottom-line revenue. Daunting? Yes, but you’re in luck because everything online is measurable.

Social media is about engagement
With the growing popularity of online social networks, hospitals realize that social media can help build an engaged audience. To do this, hospital marketers must change how we use these tools to communicate. This requires shifting from promotion (“us” marketing) to sharing health information on topics and conditions relevant to customers (“we” marketing).

After making this fundamental shift in social media communications strategy, my hospital (Inova Health System) increased social media followers by more than 400 percent in under a year. More importantly, we were able to measure engagement by using Facebook Insights and Klout.

Engagement leads to action
Increased engagement with your hospital brand via social media means you can begin offering ways for customers to learn from and engage more directly:

  • Ask them sign up for an eNewsletter where you communicate regularly on topics of their interest. Then, measure their engagement through open-rates and click-through rates.
  • Create links to your website so customers can download health information or other content. Services such as http://bit.ly allow you to track how many times people click on your links and when they get to your website, as well as how long they stay there.
  • Promote a health event or seminar and use online registration forms. Collecting names and other relevant information makes it possible to compare that data with your CRM database and cross-promote other ways to sustain engagement.


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