PR Musings; or, how companies like Blizzard are misunderstanding rising video social media platforms

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The presidential election of 2008 not only changed the nation in who can be elected president, but in how we interacted with candidates. Some would argue that President Obama’s social media savvy team essentially won him the presidency and their continued use of it helped keep him there. While others over the years have scrambled to catch up to incorporate such practice into their communication strategies, social media continues to evolve at a rapid pace.

The last two years have seen a rise in differing platforms that allow people to engage with each other, namely in the realm of video social media. Moving beyond the stagnant capability of YouTube, services such as Instagram Video and Vine have popped up that make it easier to express, share info, and simply be creative.

But, aye, there’s a rub. During my professional readings I came across this article in PR Strategist that points out that while in the past social media spread as fast a meme featuring Grump Cat, video platforms have been slow to the draw for a majority of companies, namely Fortune 500 companies.

The question remains, why?

In reviewing the companies on the list, it’s not hard to identify a bulk of them are in industries that aren’t necessarily in need of visually stimulating social content — financial, fuels, banks, pharmaceuticals, etc. But there are a handful that would find video platforms useful and those are the companies that should find ways of incorporating such content into their practice, namely software, tech and entertainment companies. That’s not to say that ALL companies couldn’t find useful sharing small amounts of video content, but if anyone is leading the industry in practice, it should be the industries in which video is a natural product.

I’m going to pick apart my favorite company, Blizzard Entertainment.

Blizzard Vine (1) Blizzard Vine (2)

I has a sad.

A quick view of their social media content shows a very active community development team engaging players on Twitter and Facebook. A lot of advertising about upcoming content, titles, and events are the bulk of that engagement, while the rest is simply player questions answered by the company’s lead developers. Perusing their video content on the smaller platforms on Vine, there are accounts for each of the company’s franchises that seem to have fallen neglected, some not even cared for at all.

A video game development company makes an excellent example of the type of company that would find Instagram Video and Vine most useful in their community engagement. Think about all that can be shown in six seconds (the limit for content on Vine): content previews for environment renderings, artwork for the games as they are being drawn and completed, 360-degree views of game models, and quirky behind-the-scenes clips to show the character of the developers. Most importantly, these platforms are perfect for recording and displaying community engagement at high visibility events, such as last weekend’s BlizzCon.

Here’s one I took at BlizzCon while walking into the Anaheim Convention Center prior to the opening ceremony:

Think about all of the content that could have been previewed as it was announced, the cosplayers who want to show off their creations, and people having fun interacting with Blizzard’s developers across all its franchises.

A few days after Blizzard’s most visible event and nothing.

In going back to the PR Strategist article, I came across a single comment that probably best summarizes this lack of content on video social media services:

This should really come as no surprise. Our audience’s attention spans are limited. Furthermore, it’s easier to snap a photo than produce a video.
-Karen S.

It’s easier to snap a photo indeed. But the point of Instgram Video and Vine is to stimulate. And a company like Blizzard, whose customer-base hangs off of every word and image communicated by the company, it should be expected that short clips (think of them as Harry Potter-esque “moving pictures”) would be equally devoured.

So for Blizzard, I’ve identified a problem. Let’s talk about the solutions.

First, USE it. Use the platforms as a means of visually communicating what you’re creating.

Second, since content for video social media isn’t created as quickly as snapshots (by the way, Blizzard has no official Instagram account for neither itself nor any of its franchises — another opportunity they are missing out on), then combine all franchises into a single Blizzard account. The benefits to this will be measurable in that people can frequent the sites and see content not just for THEIR preferred franchise, but across all of them, thus creating a cross-branding and marketing opportunity.

Lastly, empower the community team to contribute the content in lieu of current postings. Having a video social media account carries the misconception that more work will be involved in not only creating it, but getting it reviewed and subsequently released. It’s six seconds of video (15 for Instagram)! It will take just as much work to film something as to write out it out. And since these services can be used interchangeably, you can replace an entire written post altogether for more visually engaging content. You can even map out in a long-range plan what exactly you will produce, for which franchises, and produce it ahead of time while steadily releasing it over it time.

The bottomline is this: these are FUN services that carry high potential for increasing awareness, communicating and previewing content, and stimulating conversation with customers.

A company like Blizzard that has a track-record for producing industry-leading content and equally leading and engaging community communication practices should be finding new ways to keep that bar set high. This is one of those opportunities.

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