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Instagram Video a Bonus for Brands

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Like a lot of casual Instagram users, I use it to snap cool square-shaped photos, slap a neat-o filter on it and share it on my Facebook page. Kids doing cute things, pets pouncing playfully and eye-catching scenery make up the bulk of what I and my Instagram buddies share with each other.

 

Christopher Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd

So you may have missed the news this summer that Instagram added video capability to its lineup. It works much the same as taking and sharing photos — just look for the movie camera icon when you launch the app on your smartphone or mobile device to switch to video mode.

 

It’s easy to shoot and share

You can only shoot and share 15 seconds of video, but as we know with Vine and GIFs, smart content producers can create some compelling footage in just a few seconds.

 

You press and hold the record button, so you can stop, set up a new scene and keep rolling. That’s editing right in the camera just like good ol’ Sergei Eisenstein did! It even comes with 13 filters specific to video. My personal favorite is Gingham, which gives your mini-movies an old-timey washed-out look. Or select Moon to instantly convert to black-and-white.

 

Here is a guide from Mashable on how to create an Instagram video in seven simple steps!

 

Brands get the impact

Even if light users of Instagram didn’t grasp the impact of videos, brands certainly did. Smart companies soon began cranking out their own Instagram videos, whether producing new content, sharing feedback from customers or just repurposing video they already disseminate in other ways.

 

For instance, the National Basketball Association has used Instagram videos to show the Miami Heat collecting their championship rings, interviews with stars like Derrick Rose or just some dope crossover moves during team practice.

 

Over the past month, the Top 10 brand videos shared most are:

 

  1. MTV
  2. NBA
  3. Peanuts
  4. GoPro
  5. Miami Heat
  6. Wendy’s
  7. Topshop
  8. Starbucks
  9. ABC
  10. HBO (Girls)

 

Number three refers to the comic strip, not the edible nut. Most of the videos from Snoopy & Co. are simply clips of old “Peanuts” television specials — a pretty low-resource method to get a lot of eyeballs!

 

Vine who? 15 seconds of potential

In fact, according to tracking firm Unruly, 40 percent of the most popular videos shared on Instagram during the last month were created by brands. Seth Fiegerman at Mashable has the rundown for the eye-popping numbers of how many eyeballs have seen these videos.

 

With more than 150 million users and less stringent rules for business accounts than Facebook or Vine, plus the ability to link directly to Facebook, Instagram video currently has outreach potential for brands as wide as the sky.

 

Need advice on how to use video in your social media outreach? Contact Coles Marketing for a consultation!

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Point, Shoot and Practice

By Tim Coulon, Vice President Creative, Coles Marketing Communications

When it comes to shooting photos for business purposes, pictures often really are worth a thousand words. But based on the quality of photographs encountered in newsletters, brochures and even advertisements, many companies are speaking to their customers in tongues.

Professional photographers produce the finest pictures, but there isn’t always the time and budget to hire one. Point-and-shoot cameras can often fill the void for simple day-to-day business purposes, and more people are carrying smartphones that can take high-resolution photos.

The problem is the business people wielding these cameras make many common mistakes, resulting in pictures that are out of focus, badly composed or over-exposed by flash. Fortunately, most of these issues can be corrected with the following advice, plus a little bit of practice!

  • Don’t be afraid of retakes. The great thing about digital cameras is there’s no film to waste. The first picture you take probably isn’t the best one. Take four or five photos, and weed through them on your computer for the best one.
  • Always shoot on your camera’s highest resolution setting. You can decide later to shrink a photo down, but you can’t improve a low-res picture once it’s taken.
  • Don’t take the name “point-and-shoot” too literally! Many people assume wherever they happen to be standing is the best place to take a picture. Walk around your subject, looking for the best angle and lighting.
  • Avoid leaving too much space around what you’re shooting. Move in or zoom in until you’re framed fairly tightly around your subject.
  • Watch out for distracting objects or people in the background. You don’t want to take a portrait of your CEO with an “Exit” sign right over his/her head!
  • Excess motion can result in blurry or bad photos. Anchor your body when you’re ready to shoot. Press the shutter button smoothly — don’t stab or jerk the camera. It might even be a good idea to hold your breath.
  • Avoid shooting a person straight on, looking directly into the camera. They will look stiff and uncomfortable. Have them turn their body at a slight angle and swivel their head toward the camera for a more natural, candid look.
  • You can even have your portrait subject looking away from the camera. If you do this, frame them slightly off-center and include more of the area in the direction they’re looking. This “look space” effect results in great environmental portraits.
  • Don’t stand someone up against a wall to take their picture. It will resemble a police mug shot and create a shadow halo around their head.
  • Use your point-and-shoot’s autofocus function wisely. Most digital cameras allow you to press the shutter button halfway to set the focus. You can then move the camera around to change or improve the composition. Aim first at what you want to be in focus, press the button halfway to lock it in, and move around until you like what you see. Then press the shutter the rest of the way to take the shot.
  • Focusing with a smartphone camera is a little different. On most smartphones, you can tap the screen on the object you want to focus on. Then press the shutter button to take the picture. Otherwise it will just focus on whatever is in the center of your screen.
  • Smartphone cameras have a wider aspect ratio than regular cameras, resulting in a long, skinny image. Avoid holding the phone upright while taking a picture, unless you’re photographing something tall like a building or a basketball player.
  • Your camera’s flash function is best when used about five or six feet away from your subject. If you’re too close, they’ll be blasted with light and washed out. If they’re more than 10 feet away, the flash won’t reach them. Try to use natural light whenever possible.
  • If you’re photographing outdoors, bright sunny days aren’t the best choice. Shoot on an overcast day or in the shade for the best effects.

Looking for experts behind the lens? Check out what photography services Coles has to offer!

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