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How Lowe’s and Vine Build Social Video Success

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Is six seconds enough time to tell a story with online video? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Home improvement store Lowe’s is using the social networking platform Vine to create a viral video success. But Vine isn’t the only social networking tool in the Lowe’s toolbox.

The Lowe’s campaign is called Fix in Six, and it combines truly helpful home tips that can be related in six seconds with playful stop-motion animation that’s perfect for Vine. Lowe’s Fix in Six tips include using a rubber band to turn a stripped screw and using plumber’s tape to mark out where pictures will be hanged before pounding any nails.

The person behind this campaign, and all of Lowe’s social networking efforts, is Brad Walters, director of social media and emerging platforms for the company. When Vine launched, he saw other companies experiment with it, but wasn’t impressed with what they were doing. They might shoot a quick view of their office, perhaps, or six seconds of people walking by outside.

“We started looking at this saying, ‘We want to get involved here.’ We think -- we believe that we’re storytellers inside of social -- that we need to tell a compelling story that is going to provide some level of value or some value of engagement or entertainment or inspiration,” Walters says. “We looked at Vine and said, ‘How do we participate in this space, but make sure that it’s meaningful and make sure that anybody who follows us or anybody who happens to consume the content we put out there are getting something out of it?’”

The answer was to experiment with content that Lowe’s already knew worked, and that could be told in a six-second looping video. Prior to working with Vine, Lowe’s ran a campaign on Facebook called Shareable Solutions, which offered illustrated “life hacks” -- solutions that gave people an a-ha moment. These tips drew a strong response on Facebook, and Walters’ team believed they would do just as well on Vine.

With the idea decided, Lowe’s needed a look. Rather than creating simple videos in-house, Walters chose to work with someone already turning out strong Vine videos. BBDO, the advertising agency Lowe’s uses, scouted out Meagan Cignoli, an animator and former fashion photographer known for her stop-motion work. Walters was happy to leave the look of the videos to Cignoli, who brought a playful creativity to the project. Most videos were shot at a studio in BBDO’s New York City office, although some were shot on location.

The Fix in Six campaign got a strong reaction from the start.

“The response to those first five or six Vines we produced was just really overwhelming,” Walters says. “People were like, ‘This is so awesome. This is so great. I’m watching it over and over,’ and we felt like, wow, if we’re going to get this kind of response, what happens if we start to really scale it up? And so we took that approach, and we’re still working on it today.”

Social Video: Never Stop Improving

Some Lowe’s Vines are more complex than others. While the stripped screwdriver meets rubber band video was sparse, a video about keeping rodents and squirrels out of the garden involved a puppet squirrel, clouds, and props on a miniature set. And that doesn’t include all the time spent between Lowe’s and Cignoli creating and developing the ideas. That sounds like a lot of work for six seconds of video.

“It is, it is,” Walters says. “We feel like it’s worth it. There’s a lot of complexity that goes into shooting these things even though you’re using a camera built into an iPhone. It’s still pretty complex to complete them, but I think if you could have differentiating content out there that helps your customer -- inspires or empowers your customer -- it gives them a level of confidence that they can complete a project or it gives them a level of confidence in you as a brand. You are providing them something of value, and they’re like, ‘Man, every time I turn around Lowe’s is always there to help me understand how to do something or give me the knowledge to do something that I didn’t even know existed.’ It’s worth that effort because we’ve got to make sure that we are focusing on our customer and putting them first in our efforts.”

Lowe’s Fix in Six uses Vine videos to share home tips, such as how to use a rubber band to turn a stripped screw, in six seconds each. 

As of this writing, there have been over 50 videos in the Fix in Six campaign. Once the last one posted in January -- on creating a ribbon organizer with a coat hanger -- Walters decided to give the campaign a breather.

“I think the idea of Fix in Six is certainly something that’s not going to go away, at least not in the immediate future, but I think there’s an opportunity for an evolution to make sure it stays relevant and make sure that people are seeing what’s capable of it,” Walters says. “We could stay on the past and never change it, but I think it could get stagnant pretty quick, so we want to make sure that it’s staying top-of-mind for folks.”

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