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SXSW ’14: Instagram or Vine? Panel Shows Brand Video Successes

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The title of the first-day South by Southwest (SXSW) panel was “Instagram vs Vine: Real World Smackdown,” but inevitably the answer was both. For marketers, the choice isn’t between one or the other social video platform, but how to use each in unique ways that engage consumers.

“When it comes down to a lot of this stuff, it’s all about the users,” said Katrina Craigwell, manager of digital marketing for GE. Rather than using Instagram or Vine to promote the company, she and her team want their videos to be additive, giving the viewers an experience they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

GE has used Instagram for over three years, focusing on the industrial technology that makes up the bulk of its business. Giant jet engines can be hard to communicate in marketing text, so Instagram visuals have helped the company show off the cool-factor of its work. Building on that, GE created an “InstaWalk” where it invited a handful of GE fans and online influencers to a facility where it tests jet engines. The invitees were allows to touch, play, and shoot what they wanted. The results gave a humanity to GE’s work that the company couldn’t have done alone, Craigwell said.

When Vine came around, GE’s marketing team wanted to do something new with it, so they focused on science, not machines. GE created “six-second science” videos, which taught the viewer small lessons. When that took off in popularity, GE created the Six-Second Science Fair, inviting other people to make similar videos. In the end, GE received over 600 submissions. Its compilation video was viewed over 800,000 times.

For GE then, it’s not Vine versus Instagram, but how can the company use each to give something additive to the viewer.

“We use both of them fairly equally,” Craigwell said. “They’ve both helped us find different aspects of our voice.”

Influencers are a core part of the strategy, said Craigwell. Rather than issuing a message, she’d rather find the right video creators to help GE get a story out. Creators shine a different lens on the subject, she noted. Her team plans to invite more of the community to GE facilities to experience the technology. What is GE hoping to get from those visitors, the moderator asked?

“We just want them to geek out and be curious,” Craigwell said.

Katrina Craigwell of GE, along with Mark W. Smith of USA Today and Brad Walters of Lowe’s Home Improvement at South by Southwest 2014.

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