Using smartphone video apps to market your business

By Patti Rowlson
Courtesy to The Bellingham Business Journal 

Fifty-six percent of Americans now have a smartphone. Are you one of them?

If so, you most likely have access to free video apps that can be used as marketing tools for your small business.

Vine, a smartphone app released in January 2013, allows users to shoot 6-second videos that can be shared with consumers on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Video on Instagram, released in June 2013, offers similar features but allows users to film and share 15-second videos.

National brands like Red VinesTaco Bell and Jeni’s Ice Creams have jumped on the video app bandwagon and are using Vine and Video on Instagram to create and distribute mini ads online.

Not sure how a small, local business could use video apps as a marketing tool? Here are a few ideas that would work in several key industries:

– Retail: Record the inside of your storefront or office. Feature a different retail display or product line every week. Interview happy employees or customers. Show viewers a welcoming entry way or the neighborhood where your business is located.

– Restaurants: Use the videos to describe a menu item. Showcase an employee of the week. Show how food is cooked and served. Scan and share scenic views or outdoor seating areas. Scan the menu or show a daily “specials” board.

– Tourism and Hospitality: Record local points of interest such as beaches and parks. Showcase live entertainment venues or performers. Share a Top 10 attraction list (one video at a time). Show the inside of hotel rooms or B&B suites. Feature local tour companies or adventure guides.

– Building Industry: Showcase select building materials like stonework or tile. Offer a quick do-it-yourself tip. Share a safety tip of the week. Scan a tidy job site or shoot a quick before-and-after video of each project.

– Manufacturing: Show consumers the machines that make your products. Record video that shows finished products in action. Shoot a panorama of the inside of your manufacturing plant. Talk about any eco-friendly processes that may be used.

The amazing thing about these new video apps is that they are free to use and easy to distribute.

In theory, a local business with a small marketing budget could create a mini video ad that looks and feels like one created by a larger corporation with a much larger budget, like this Video on Instagram ad for retailer Urban Outfitters. It simply shows a cute dog chewing on a tennis ball. That’s pretty basic, right?

When you’re ready to try video marketing for your small business, just download the platform of choice from any smartphone app store. The apps are designed to be very user friendly, but if you need help, both Vine and Video on Instagram offer tutorials and user guides on their websites.

Video on Instagram:

Patti Rowlson of PR Consulting Services is a publicist and marketing consultant in Whatcom County. Connect with Rowlson on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for additional marketing tips, or visit her website at

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