Brands Flock to 'Instagram for Video' Apps

GE, Sierra Mist, Brisk Among Marketers Testing Social-Video Apps Like SocialCam and Viddy -- and So Is Britney Spears

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Apps like SocialCam and Viddy are exploding in popularity as the next "Instagram for video" among consumers for recording and sharing short videos and -- like clockwork -- big brands are following.

SocialCam, in particular, has attracted a flurry of brands in recent weeks, like General Electric, the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and Discovery Channel's Shark Week. PepsiCo brands Sierra Mist and Brisk iced tea launched their pages just days ago and have since amassed more than 50,000 followers apiece.

SocialCam operates like a mini social network for videos. The more than 50 million monthly active users can record videos from their mobile phones or upload existing videos, add filters or soundtracks, and consume and comment on other users' videos. Most users access the service online, while the iPhone or Android apps have been downloaded 10 million times, said SocialCam CEO Michael Seibel.

Viddy, with about 36 million users, is a similar beast; however it limits the length of the videos to 15 seconds. GE is using Viddy, too, to distribute videos from inside its manufacturing operations, like one of its robotic bottler. Fashion label Diane von Furstenberg used the app to publish behind-the-scenes videos from New York Fashion Week.

Most brands have just begun to use the apps and haven't posted more than a handful of videos just yet. Some, like Sierra Mist, are using the app to distribute videos created for other efforts [see above]; others, such as Brisk, are creating videos specifically for the service.

Some brands are choosing one service over the other. Sierra Mist first turned to SocialCam to distribute its recipe videos from Food Network chef Aaron Sanchez since Viddy had the 15-second limit. Sierra Mist created 14 videos with Mr. Sanchez, half in Spanish, half in English, and so far has posted just a few after joining SocialCam on Friday.

Sierra Mist houses these videos online and publishes a corresponding recipe book on Facebook, but they're not accessible via the social network's mobile app. That's where SocialCam came in, said Jaylon White, associate marketing manager for Sierra Mist. " A lot of users are accessing the content on their smartphones," she said. (U.S. Latinos are more likely to own smartphones than the general market, according to Pew Research.)

Brisk, which has long been an early adopter of startups like Instagram, is creating short clips expressly for SocialCam.

So far, brands post for free on the 1-year-old SocialCam, which has not yet begun to monetize the service. Both Sierra Mist and Brisk are happy and surprised by their popularity on the service.

"We're not paying for a presence there," said Chris Oates, brand manager on Brisk. "At least not yet." SocialCam on Tuesday launched a new leaderboard on its website to help surface celebrities and brands using the service. So far, Britney Spears is the most popular, with more than 830,000 followers.

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