Maya Hari
Oct 13, 2015

Play it again, Sam: The power of video in campaigns

Content, context and continuity are vital ingredients for an engaging video campaign. But how do you make it all gel into something viewers will want to replay and share? Twitter's Maya Hari shares some of the company's insights into successful campaigns.

Maya Hari
Maya Hari

Campaigns that go viral often have a video component. Video, when strategically used, can be a very powerful medium in fuelling discovery and engagement. Of course, a video is not just a video, unless you have the undeniable pull of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, or show-stopping news such as the one Kanye West made at the MTV Video Music Awards when he announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency in 2020.  

For businesses and brands with a little less star power, there are ways to amp up the power of videos as an effective content marketing tool. Twitter has been investing in videos for a long time, from six-second video platform Vine, Promoted Videos, content partnerships with broadcasters on Amplify, and live streaming video app Periscope. What we’ve noticed is that when it comes to videos, it’s all about the 3Cs: content, context, and continuity.  


Content is the core of a video Tweet. Think of it as your screenplay. Just like any screenplay, the producer, director and cast play an important role in bringing your narrative to life, so it’s important to think of how you want to position your video clip, you who you want in the lead role, and how you’re going to promote it. 

In research we commissioned, Twitter users say they want to see more videos from three top sources: celebrities (45 per cent), other users (40 per cent) and brands (37 per cent). Aside from producing, these three sources can also feature in your video.

1. Let’s look at the top choice: The celebrity. With a good a script, celebrities can really propel a campaign kickoff. And when you put instantly recognizable celebrities in a video, or create exclusive content such as behind-the-scenes clips that take advantage of Twitter’s autoplay feature, chances are your target audience will stop scrolling when the video starts playing.

Take a look at this Promoted Tweet with Video by adidas Malaysia. The provocative copy immediately piques your curiosity, and thumbnail featuring Gareth Bale gives you a compelling reason to watch the video. Football is a universal language, and even without the voiceover, football fans won’t have trouble recognizing the faces in this adidas video campaign for their #ThereWillBeHaters line of football boots.

2. The next people’s choice is other users, particularly those who command a large following. There are plenty of inspirational video clips, such as on Vine for example, that show there is no lack of creativity online.

The six-second looping video format of Vine is the social-media video equivalent of writing a skit, so the key is to keep the narrative simple. Editing plays a very important role in keeping the story tight and effective in one quick punch. The amazing Zach King is a great inspiration for brands; he’s famous for taking everyday expressions such as “couch potato” and “rolling out of bed” and turning them into the most creative six-second video loops. 

One way for businesses to harness this creative power is by asking for user participation. Encourage users to create content that ties to your messaging or use your products or brands to create content they like. Or better yet, retweet user-generated videos that tie into your narrative. If you were Andy Murray’s kit sponsor or running a campaign tied to the #USOpen for example, this video Tweet  would make a great addition to your narrative.

3. Third on the list are brands. When creating video campaigns for social media, short and sweet hits the spot. Think in terms of a 15- or 30-second TV commercial, like this Oreo video for #OreoThins:

In our own studies we’ve found branding appearing in first three seconds of the video drives better recall, so keep this in mind.


Once you’ve nailed down solid content, it’s time to focus on context. Think of this as the promotional blurb for your video—the element that fuels discovery beyond your followers. Tying your campaign to an event, a season, a message or a movement can fuel discovery of your video content and create a connection with your audience through their familiarity of that anticipated moment or trend.

Anticipated events are the easiest to plan, and you can go for quick but effective hits such as this simple but very much on-message Vine video created by American fast-food chain Arby’s for #WorldEmojiDay on July 17.

Pop culture, particularly popular films and TV shows, are a good hook to fuel discovery of a campaign. For example, it’s safe to say most of the English-speaking world has heard of HBO’s ‘Sex and The City” and “50 Shades of Grey”. So when TV Land in the U.S. was promoting Younger (@YoungerTV), a new show from the creators of ‘Sex and The City’, they aligned with two big entertainment events to reach out to their target audience of Generation X and millennial females: the Oscars and the release of the ‘50 Shades of Grey’ movie. During the Oscars, the brand used TV targeting to engage people talking about the broadcast, and @username targeting to reach users similar to the followers of relevant celebrity, movie and news accounts such as Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH), Focus Features (@FocusFeatures) and The Hollywood Reporter (@THR).

Movements can also provide a very personal, emotional connection to target audiences. The key is to choose a movement that resonates with your core audience, such as what Unilever Indonesia’s Pond’s (@PondsTeens) did with its Flock-to-Unlock campaign on Twitter with #WajahBaruIndonesia—a national movement to encourage Indonesian young women to overcome challenges and achieve their aspirations by putting their best face forward. Flock-to-Unlock is a Twitter campaign tool whereby Twitter users are encouraged to achieve a number of retweets / favourites on the campaign tweet to unlock a collective reward. The Pond’s campaign unlocked the ‘Bercahaya’ song, sung exclusively for Twitter users by Raisa @Raisa6690, a young Indonesian singer famous among teens in Indonesia.


Whether it’s a show’s social media presence off season or a continuation of an offline activation, video clips and recaps keep the conversation alive. Periscope’s live video feed is a great new way to easily share your presence using existing assets. If you’re already planning a live event, stream it and let the event speak for your brand. On Periscope, brands can get real-time feedback during the broadcast, so you can easily respond to what viewers want. Coach recently have followers a front row seat to the #coachmens2016 fashion show in London, while The New York Yankees recently broadcast a batting practice from Yankee Stadium on Periscope. 

For campaigns, it’s even more vital to keep the conversation going. Last year in a brand building and allergy education campaign, Benadryl Philippines created Twitter personality @AllergicAlice, who recorded a music video where she laments her pet peeves. Filipinos often refer to pet peeves as something they’re ‘allergic to’, and Benadryl used the colloquial spin to challenge misconceptions. In a second video, Alice Tweets that she thought she was ‘allergic’ to public displays of affection—turns out she was allergic to flower bouquets. For example, in one Unlike Alice’s allergies, the videos were infectious—receiving 1.7 million views.  

@AllergicAlice has since continued the conversation about allergy awareness, sharing a charming Valentine’s Day video featuring couples talking about their relationships with the message ‘start smelling the roses.’ 

The Encore

The 3Cs are an important guide to campaigns, but there is one secret ingredient that can make or break a video campaign: planning. If you look at successful video campaigns, they’re carefully planned and flawlessly executed. Make sure your team follows the script and that everyone is on the same page.

The most important thing for brands to remember is whatever you do on social media, do something. Nothing is worse than an inactive account. You don’t need constant intensity, but you do need momentum. Just don’t forget to check the engagement—it’s the most powerful part of a platform like Twitter. Feedback tells you what’s working, what’s not, and what you need to keep doing.

In addition to making sure branding appears within the first three seconds, brands can also experiment with videos that tell a story without audio and use subtitle text to get the message across more effectively in autoplay. Finally, never neglect to research and use hashtags to drive cross-channel storytelling. 

Maya Hari is director, product strategy and sales for Asia Pacific, Americas and emerging markets at Twitter

Campaign Asia

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