Rhodes, who has worked for Elevator Agency, Charming Penguin Productions, Miran Media, The Media Image, and Al Jazeera, tells media update’s Nikita Geldenhuys that authenticity and brevity are vital when it comes to social video.

What is social video, in your opinion?

Social video is ingestible video content that is shared to audiences via social media channels. These videos are often short, less than three minutes, and provoke a reaction or an emotion.

What are the basic principles of social video and what should marketers avoid?

The main things to keep in mind, in order of priority, are:
  • Make sure the video is compelling and ‘share-worthy’;
  • Keep the time or length of the video short and sweet;
  • Be authentic because people want to believe the video they are watching is ‘real’; and
  • If user-generated content is what you are after, make sure that your call to action is clear, easy-to-follow, and concise.

Do you see South African marketers and brands using social video to its full potential?

Yes, South African marketers are utilising video to its potential. However, it is important to note that social media strategists are sometimes cautious as to how much video content to incorporate into strategies because South Africans are data conscious.

What are some of your favourite locally made social videos and why are you a fan?

One of my favourite local videos is one my team and I produced for the Standard Bank Young Talent recruitment campaign, called Why choose the Standard Bank Graduate Programmes? The lovely thing about this video is that it is short, provokes a feeling of upliftment and aspiration, and is authentic because it shares the voice of young people.

In addition, Vodacom SA made the popular video Vodacom NXT LVL This Is Your Time. Part of the reason for its success is that it was pegged on a ‘key day’, Youth Day, and the video specifically speaks to the youth of South Africa. It is aspirational in tone and has a clear inspiring message.

Another example of an effective social video is Sky Ocean Rescue’s Another whale killed by our plastic about the impact of pollution on whales. To me, this video has ‘arms and legs’ because it does the following things well: it tells a story, utilises subtitles, provokes a strong feeling, and compels people to change their behaviour.

You specialise in viral-capacity videos. How does video created for virality differ from video created for social?

Making a video go viral is next to impossible. Saying that, one can optimise on your chances of virality by ensuring the video content is authentic in tone, has the WOW factor, and is brief.

These days, people have the attention span of a goldfish, which is seven seconds or less! It is important that the best part of the video is at the start, so people will get to see it before the goldfish in them makes them move on to the next interesting thing that scrolls down their feed or pops up on their screen.

Some say viral video generates shares but no engagement. What is the value of viral video for brands?

A share is a form of engagement – a very worthwhile one in fact. For example, if you see something and simply ‘Like’ it, you are not as invested in it as you would be if you decided to not only view it, but deem it worthy to be shared on your wall, where it’s shown to your personal friends, family, and followers.

In my opinion, the value of a viral video is mass levels of brand exposure in an organic and non-pushy way. Viral videos are often organic, authentic pieces of content that promote a brand in a way that is not ‘heavy’.

Audiences are savvy and dishing them content that was evidentially produced by a brand turns people off. Users don’t like to feel manipulated or advertised to.

What trends and developments are you excited about in the video marketing space?

Social channels are constantly evolving. For example, Facebook recently announced that cover photos can now be videos!

Users are hungry for rich content that can be quickly ingested. The rise of Snapchat, the evolution of short-form videos on Instagram, and more, is proof that we’re only just getting started with video in the social space.

I predict live video rising in South Africa as social users gain more access to data. I also predict the e-commerce space will utilise video more and more in creative, authentic, non-pushy ways to generate product awareness or sales.

You can connect with Rhodes on Twitter or on Facebook.

South African brands are exploring the ability of social media to tell stories. Read more here: How Sanlam’s WhatsApp drama series hit its targets.