Boomerang allows users to create and then share mini videos via social media. It works by taking a burst of five photos and stitching them together into a one-second video. The video then loops, playing the images backwards and forwards to create the ‘Boomerang’ effect.
Where it differs from other social media tools is that there is no Boomerang newsfeed where users can share their videos. Instead people have to post them to other social media channels such as Facebook or Instagram, although users can set this up automatically.
This is not the first time Instagram has launched a standalone app. Layouts lets users create a collection of images in one picture while Hyperlapse offers the ability to create time lapse videos. All are seen as ways for Instagram to keep its users more engaged with the platform as the number of social media sites trying to grab consumers’ attention continues to rise.
Short form content creation tools are all the rage. Vine, Snapchat and Cinemagraph all offer ways for brands to create video. Start-ups such as ‘Phhhoto’ let people create very short gifs, while the feature is also reminiscent of the photo animation tool in Google Photos.
Where Boomerang is different, according to Instagram, is that these are not full videos or gifs or photos but a way of quickly capturing unexpected moments.
Why brands are getting involved
Any new social tool offers an opportunity for brands both to reach new users and prove they are on top of the latest trends. Boomerang content is inherently shareable so should boost engagement and allow marketers to flex their creative muscle.
Johannes Hinrich Meyer, a digital strategist at FCB Inferno, says: “[Boomerang] is a short-content and eminently shareable format supported by a wildly popular platform [Instagram] with a very strong internal hook – actions endlessly looping back and forth.
“As long as creative executions are not only consistent with but embrace this premise – and, of course, our eternal predilection for silliness – we should see some great work going forward.”
The app itself is easy to use and does not require editing, unlike normal video, making production costs low for brands and the barriers to entry almost non-existent. It is also a great way to tap into people’s emotions by focusing on one moment that could make consumers laugh.
How marketers are using Boomerang
Meyer expects brands to subvert Boomerang to some great ends and many have been trying out the app already.
For Ritz, Boomerang offered an opportunity to enhance its wider market message of trying out new things. It used the app to promotes its ‘Crisp and thin’ snacks with social media manager Pollyanna Ward saying Boomerang also offered a new way to communicate its brand personality.
“This year Ritz came back on the scene in the UK with its first big marketing campaign in 30 years. We are making Ritz relevant again by thinking like a startup, trying new things and ‘Putting On The Ritz’,” she explains
“We chose to use Boomerang because it is a great way to show off our brand personality and we want to reconnect with our consumers by giving them richer content on a platform that is relevant to them. Ultimately, our goal is to shift people’s perspective from a box of crackers at the back of the cupboard, to a fun, sociable brand with snacks for every occasion.”
MTV, meanwhile, used Boomerang to promote the European Music Awards in Milan last month. It encouraged nominated artists to take a selfie using the app as part of a digital strategy aimed at widening the appeal of the event and increasing the reach for its brands sponsors.
Karmelina Parouka, VP of international digital production, content and engagement at Viacom Velocity International, a division that improves ad effectiveness for sponsors of MTV, says: “Partnering with Instagram to launch Boomerang at the 2015 MTV EMAs made absolute sense for our audience, who are early adapters of new technologies and platforms. Not only do we want to create defining moments in music history, but also evolve how our audience consumes them in today’s ecosystem.”
“We have continued to evolve our digital content strategy to ensure we are everywhere our audience is in. Diversifying off our own platforms is crucial to us being able to offer our audience a deeper connection with our content as well as expand our reach.
“Our fans are already on Instagram, as are creators that matter to them. Partnering with Instagram to host the boomerang studio backstage was another way to delight this vast global audience and offer a type of talent engagement not seen before.”
What brands should watch out for
As with any new social tool there is a concern that while initial interest in Boomerang has been strong that could quickly fade. The simplicity of the app could also pose an issue for brands looking to create high-quality content.
Dimitri Karoullas, social media manager at creative agency JWT, says: “You have to capture the moment as it happens, meaning you can’t record longer clips, shorten them, then loop them. This will likely pose a problem for some brands with the type of visual content they want to capture, but if they set up the shot perfectly Boomerang will allow for dynamic and punchy content for brands.”
For Boomerang to become part of brands’ wider marketing strategies, rather than a fun ‘nice to have’ it will need to introduce new features. Vine, for example, has updated its app to offer more production tools that are important for brands and agencies creating content.
“I doubt brands will decide to make Boomerang a staple of content creation, not with the lack of editing and formatting options it currently has. But perhaps with some simple updates they can persuade brands to substitute videos and cinema-graph style images for Boomerang,” says Karoullas.