Mistakes Companies Make on Instagram Video and Vine

In a previous blog post we discussed how brands are effectively using Vine as a unique and creative way to connect with audiences. More and more companies, including BIGfish client Iceland Naturally, are finding that image-centric content on social media is a fantastic way to connect with fans.

As more companies continue to engage with consumers through visual content, it’s important to create likeable and visual campaigns on new platforms. Many companies have taken to Instagram and Vine videos as they’re inexpensive to produce and can be created in a matter of seconds. Yet sometimes even big brands make mistakes that are easy to avoid. We’ve outlined a few mistakes that you should be sure to avoid.

Too Much Content, Too Little Time

Six seconds can go a long way with a little creativity, but simply cramming a ton of content into a small time frame can result in an uncomfortable viewing experience. For example, this American Apparel Vine starts off promising, but by the end, it can leave viewers with a headache.

Unless a fast pace is essential to your message, give viewers time to see and take in each clip – especially if you’re trying to show off product.
Lack of Creativity and Sensory Appeal
Not everything needs to be in a video format. Wheat Thins makes no use of sound in this video and the moving text is difficult to read. Videos offer incredible opportunities for brands to express their unique voice, but this requires some thought and imagination. This video would be more effective as an image.

When creating a video, make sure the platform you are using is appropriate for the content you want to share.

Poor Quality

It can be difficult to make a video that’s perfectly smooth and stable. Although all Instagram and Vine videos are taken using a smartphone, companies should make the best quality films they can. In this Instagram video by Anthropologie, the camera shakes, making each image unstable and difficult to watch.

Always view the video prior to uploading it and if the video appears wobbly, try it again.


Considering the average adult’s non-task oriented attention span is only eight seconds, Instagram and Vine videos are the perfect way to engage a mass audience at little to no cost.  While these videos are meant to be fun, it’s crucial that brands take the time to produce high-quality videos, not just ones that are easy to make.


Liz Blumenthal, Summer Intern & Brigid Gorham


Vote for Beaver Country Day School to Present at SXSWedu 2014!

BIGfish client Beaver Country Day School, Chestnut Hill’s independent school for grades 6-12, is implementing a coding requirement this year, meaning every student will know how to read and write code by graduation. Beaver is in the running to present this innovative program at SXSWedu 2014, a four-day event featuring  presentations from educators nationwide who are committed to engaging learners with modern tools and content. Votes from the general public are a large factor in determining programming, so Beaver needs your help! Click here to vote for Beaver’s “The Coded Curriculum” proposal now!  Cast your vote by clicking the thumbs up in the top left corner.

Our Future is Written in Code

According to Code.org, 1 million of the best jobs in America may go unfilled because only 1 in 10 schools teach students how to code. Our society’s insatiable hunger for everything digital can only be satisfied by computer scientists, yet we don’t have enough of them.

Organizations like Code.org and she++ emphasize the urgent need to break the stereotypes associated with computer science and to teach the next generation to code. Most students take their first computer science class in college where they’re already a step behind. This first class can be intimidating and sometimes prevents students from learning more about computer science.

Beaver Country Day School is addressing this issue and implementing action immediately. As a new graduation requirement, each and every student at Beaver will learn to code. Faculty and staff recognize that this knowledge will open incredible opportunities for their students. Beaver has trained teachers to integrate coding concepts into classes such as math, science and art and emphasize topics such as creative problem solving rather than language syntax.

Vote Now!

You can vote for Beaver to present at SXSWedu through September 6 by logging into the SXSW PanelPicker and giving Beaver’s “The Coded Curriculum” proposal a thumbs up! Beaver wants to use the national platform of SXSWedu to spread the word about the importance of coding and inspire teachers and schools around the country to implement similar programs. Beaver Country Day School and BIGfish appreciate your support in Beaver’s quest to present at SXSWedu. We’ll keep you posted when SXSW makes their decisions!

Check out this video to learn more about what the coded curriculum means for Beaver’s students.

Thank You, Interns!

It’s been an eventful summer in Boston and our interns have been hard at work in the office creating social media content, writing blog posts and pitches, developing media lists and more. We asked our interns about their experiences working at BIGfish this summer and what they have planned for the future. Read on to see what they had to say!
We’re currently seeking energetic and highly organized candidates for our fall internship positions! Click here to learn more about the position and how to apply.  
Karen Summer Intern 2013
Karen Muller

Hometown: Feeding Hills, MA

College: Ithaca College, Class of 2014

Favorite part of working at BIGfish: I learned a lot from having the chance to contribute to a variety of different projects and from working with such an interesting mix of clients.

Most valuable lesson learned while working at BIGfish: Keep brainstorming. Don’t be afraid to volunteer an idea, even if it sounds crazy. Crazy ideas can lead to great ones.

Where you’d like to be in 5 years: I’d love to be back in Boston and working as an agency copywriter or something similarly creative.
Morgan Summer Intern 2013
Morgan Kee

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

College: Tufts University, Class of 2014

Favorite part of working at BIGfish: Constant feedback has really been great. I also like the low key office environment.

Most valuable lesson learned while working at BIGfish:  How to use various resources like HARO, compete.com and analytics software.  Also how to do press clippings and media target lists, and how to code Wikipedia articles.

Where you’d like to be in 5 years: Working at a marketing agency in Boston.
Liz Summer 2013 Intern
Liz Blumenthal

Hometown: San Jose, CA

College: Boston University, Class of 2015

Favorite part of working at BIGfish: Building media lists and getting to learn all about Iceland!

Most valuable lesson learned while working at BIGfish: Know the voice of the company you’re representing.

Where you’d like to be in 5 years: In 5 years, I’d love to move back to the West Coast and work at a public relations or marketing agency.
Alex Summer Intern 2013
Alex Hitchcock

Hometown: Los Gatos, CA

College: Bentley University, Class of 2014

Favorite part of working at BIGfish: Pitching, writing articles, maintaining social media accounts and being directly involved with the clients.  It was such a hands-on experience!

Most valuable lesson learned while working at BIGfish: Staying up to date with topics and trends in the industry of each of your clients is of the utmost importance.

Where you’d like to be in 5 years: Back on the West Coast, working at a job I love in public relations or advertising.

Sharing the Road: Ridesharing Apps Face Competition

Though Boston takes a respectable third place on WalkScore’s list of the country’s “most walkable cities,” the city has no shortage of transportation options, and that list seems to be growing. But what happens when a non-car owner needs to run an errand beyond city limits? Calling a taxi used to be the only option, and was often an expensive one.

However, that’s no longer the case, thanks to the recent Boston launches of several app-based ridesharing services. The concept is simple, but smart: consider the number of cars on the road that contain a driver without any passengers. Now consider the number of urban residents who don’t own or have access to a car. That’s a lot of empty seats—and a lot of people looking for rides. Why not combine these two situations into a more sustainable solution that both makes money and offers a better way for people to reach their destinations?

Enter Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber: three ridesharing mobile apps that have each become available in Boston within the past two years.  With just a few screen taps, these apps let users summon nearby drivers to deliver passengers to their destinations, taxi-style, in exchange for a donation or fee. Each of the three companies is a San-Francisco based startup, and they all came up with the ridesharing solution at about the same time, meaning that they’re now competing to win over the (often carless) residents of major cities across the U.S. Given Boston’s startup-friendly atmosphere and relatively large carless population, each of the companies chose Boston as one of the first East Coast cities to expand into.

But is there enough room here for all three to share the road?  One of the keys to surviving the competition could lie in serious brand differentiation.

Lyft, which launched in Boston in June 2013, brands itself as “Your Friend With A Car” and aims to create a fun experience and community between drivers and app users. Each Lyft car is decked out with an oversized, furry hot pink moustache affixed to the front grille, and drivers greet passengers (who ride in the front seat) with a friendly fist-bump. The company also encourages its drivers to get creative and develop a unique ride experience by building funky lights into the car, letting riders choose music, and even driving around in costume. This results in rides that range from amusingly quirky to over-the-top, depending on the driver and the experience you expected.

Since Lyft’s atmosphere is meant to feel like catching a ride with a friend, drivers make conversation, and at the end of each ride, both the driver and passenger rank each other within the app. The ranking system is key to the whole platform, since Lyft functions based on “recommended donations” rather than required payments, and both drivers and riders must maintain decent rankings within the system for continued use.

SideCar-app_in_handSidecar offers a similar arrangement, right down to the suggested donation system, but without Lyft’s whimsical details. (According to Sidecar’s website, they, too, aspire to build the largest social transportation system in the world.) The company kicked off its Boston launch in March 2013 with limited service hours and a plan to expand availability as the service becomes more popular. However, the app might be a bit late to the party for that; it came in with a lot of competition, and that competition doesn’t have limited hours.
UBER-driverUber is Boston’s most established ridesharing app, having been the first to launch here back in October of 2011. It also has perhaps the most polished public image, offering ride choices that range from Uber X (a basic sedan) to Black Car (a more upscale black town car) to SUV. Unlike its competitors, Uber was originally positioned as a slightly more expensive alternative to taking a cab, but accounted for the cost with a more comfortable ride. Riders sit in the back seat, rather than the front, and given the classed-up cars available through Uber Black, the experience really does live up to the slogan of having “your own private driver.”  As with any town car service, Uber Black is more about making an entrance than just getting around town.

However, with the recent release of Uber X, the more affordable sedan option, Uber is stretching out of its original territory and adding one more choice to the already-messy competition between Lyft, Sidecar and traditional taxis. When it comes to basic, convenient transportation, all of these services are racing to fill the same space.

While this competition does give users more options, it’s also creating problems. As ingenious and sustainable as the ridesharing system seems, these up-and-coming companies are already making enemies in the form of taxi services across the country, who argue that Lyft, Sidecar and Uber are all just illegal taxi operations in disguise. In that case, the current state of competition is working against professional taxi services; while they must comply with complicated licensing procedures, ridesharing services are almost entirely unregulated.

As a result, lawsuits and cease-and-desist letters are already flying, and within the past few days, San Francisco Airport has taken a firm stance against ridesharing, resulting in a dozen Lyft and Uber drivers receiving trespassing misdemeanors after delivering users to the airport. As a defense, ridesharing app companies argue that they do not provide a direct service themselves, but rather offer a system that connects users with safe, background-checked drivers. The entire setup exists in a legal grey area that is starting to demand government recognition, and depending on that reaction, the response could set precedent for others taking advantage of the growing sharing industry.

Are these ridesharing apps here to stay? If so, will they all be able to survive while sharing the road? Let us know what you think in the comments.

 – Karen Muller