Video narratives on mobile: Fleeting and looping for attention
Last Tuesday, Snapchat announced that media companies like CNN, National Geographic, Vice, MTV, ESPN, and The Daily Mail, will be programming content for them.
This content will appear in a new section of their app called “Discover.”
To watch these “snaps”, like all other Snapchat content, you press a button and it plays – as long you keep your finger there. Remove it and – poof! It disappears.
By having to physically keep a video running, you are forced to look – and focus.
How should brands tell video stories on Snapchat?
Pounce from the start
The opening has to grab the viewer’s attention from the very first frame. No build up is required. And then, keep them glued for the entire ride. Narratives would have to be reworked. For brands, they may need to craft their message to fit into the first few seconds.
One take to rule them all
The Copacabana scene from “Goodfellas“. The opening sequence of “Gravity”. The one-shot scene holds our attention because there are no cuts or edits to let our minds “rest”.
Brands are sharing single-take videos on social media.
The Sunday Times’ Icons of Culture.
Airbnb’s train journey.
This “hold-your-breath” approach is similar to how we view content on Snapchat.
Mobile for mobile
Shoot and edit videos on mobile. Smartphones today record in high-definition. The turnaround is faster. And the raw, gritty feel resonates with younger audiences.
Bye-bye widescreen, hello split screen
Snapchat displays content vertically. Take advantage of this framing to give users details and perspectives they would not normally see on a 16:9 aspect ratio. In “Literally Can’t Even”, a new reality series on Snapchat starring Sasha Spielberg, the daughter of Steven Spielberg, split screens are used.
This method allows the creators to show more content and grab viewers’ attention. They also have to plan carefully to see how each screen can play off each other effectively.
Content comes before anything else, and is more important now than ever. Ask, “What’s the story?”
On Wednesday, Instagram updated its app to make its videos loop like those on Vine. It is a double-edged sword. Advertisers and content creators think that their videos get more views, but viewers might get turned off. The challenge is tell stories that are interesting when viewed repeatedly. Fashion brand GAP used an elliptical narrative for their first in a series of 12 episodes on Instagram.
They call it “the weirdest love story ever Instagrammed.”
Storytelling will continue to evolve as mobile apps like Snapchat, Vine and Instagram introduce new features. This presents new opportunities and challenges for media companies and brands. They have to understand each platform well and use it as a framework to craft narratives for mobile.
Wui-Liang Lim recently joined the We Are Social Singapore team as Content Director, and is responsible for helping guide the editorial vision and output of the agency and identify new content opportunities for our clients. Follow Wui-Liang on Twitter @LimWuiLiang.