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Facebook’s Simple New App “Riff” May Be the Key to Manufactured Virality

balancing-act-with-titles-2As soon as you use the word “viral” social marketers around the world start to salivate. It’s the holy grail of social success, and it means something different to everyone.  Virality may be an overused term,  but for good reason. Regardless of your underlying social business goals, content going viral means more brand awareness, more users exposed to your message, and more opportunities for acquisition, conversion,  and retention.

Today, Facebook launched a new app called Riff, and while Facebook says the app is a side project that a few folks at the social network built in their spare time,  the concept could be the key to user-generated virality.

How Riff Works

Riff is pretty basic. You create a video, set some tags, and your friends can add their own clips.

This is where it  gets interesting: Once a friend adds a clip, it’s shown to their friends, and they can add to the video as well.  Think Snapchat stories, but collaborative, spreadable, and sharable on Facebook or the web. According to Facebook’s blog post about the release:

Anyone can start by creating a video. All you have to do is give it a topic, like #AprilFools, then your friends can view it and choose to add their own clips on that topic. Once a friend adds a clip to your video, your friend’s friends will also be shown the video in Riff and will be able to add to it. The potential pool of creative collaborators can grow exponentially from there, so a short video can become an inventive project between circles of friends that you can share to Facebook, or anywhere on the internet, at any time.

Why Riff Matters

On the surface, this is just a fun app that allows people to have fun with their friends. And that’s true.

Having fun with friends is at the heart of the Facebook experience.

Josh Miller, Product Manager at Facebook

But lets think about the brand opportunity here. Producing a 20 second video and sharing with your audience gives you the immediate exposure you’d expect, but when your fans add their content, the entire video is shared with their friends. This has done three things:

1. Promoted your content first: The video still begins with your clip. Your brand message is front and center for a completely new audience.
2. Given your content social proof: Since your fans added their own clips to your project, and shared it with their friends, they signed off on your message, making their friends more likely to be receptive.
3. Done work for you: User-generated content makes people feel more involved in your brand message and campaign, but it also takes the burden of creation off of you. This is is huge for social media marketers who have a task list that never ends.

Will Riff be the next big thing in social? It’s still too soon to tell, but the concept behind it certainly deserves some attention. You can watch a sample from Facebook’s blog post here.

Kevin Shively

I lead marketing for Simply Measured. Recovering journalist. My team is embarrassed of my hilarious jokes. Firm believer that the best marketers are the best storytellers and the best storytellers use the best data.

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