Learning Lessons from Alex Kornfeind’s Panoramic Selfie on Vine

Learning Lessons from Alex Kornfeind’s Panoramic Selfie on Vine

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On March 23, 2014, I learned some important lessons from Alex Kornfeind about a new genre of Vine’s 6-second-long looping videos: the Panoramic Selfie. The first time I saw this innovation in short-form video content was – appropriately – in the lobby of the Panoramic Hotel, one of the Ambient Hotels in Rimini, Italy. Kornfeind, a journalist and social media racing driver, showed me a Vine that he’d just taken on the beach across the street from the hotel.

Alex Kornfeind
Alex Kornfeind

Kornfeind and I had both been speakers at BE-Wizard!, an annual web marketing conference organized by Titanka! On the morning after the event, he did something remarkable. Instead of just shooting a 180-degree view of the 10-mile long beach along the Adriatic Sea in front of the hotel, which would have been impressive enough, he reversed the shot and took a selfie while spinning 360 degrees in just six seconds.

After taking some other shots – including an Instagram photo that was later selected as the Pic of the Day by Emilia Romagna Tourism, the official tourism board for the region – Kornfeind returned to the Hotel Panoramic to preview his clip before posting it to Vine and sharing it on Twitter. I was in the lobby waiting for a ride to the airport and Kornfeind asked me if he should use “360-degree selfie” or “360° selfie” in his description. And I said, “You should call it a Panoramic Selfie – in honor of the hotel where you invented it. Someday, they’ll put a plaque here with your name on it to commemorate your invention.”

This attracted the attention of Marco Scavia, a digital commerce expert for Store 360 and a speaker at BE-Wizard!, who was checking out of the hotel.

Marco Scavia
Marco Scavia

And what did he do? Well, Scavia invited us over created a Panoramic Group Selfie in the lobby of the Panoramic Hotel.

We all had a good laugh and I said that I’d include their Vines in my presentation on “Unlocking the Secrets to Mobile Video: YouTube Capture, Instagram and Vine,” which I’ll be giving Tuesday (April 1) at ClickZ Live New York. And this isn’t some elaborate joke for April Fool’s Day. I think both the #PanoramicSelfie and #PanoramicGroupSelfie are great tactics to use in order to connect with influencers on social properties.

But wait, there’s more!

When I got back to Boston, I had to catch up on four-and-a-half days of email and social media comments. But I quickly saw notices that Kornfeind was now following me on Twitter, wanted to be friends on Facebook, and had asked to be added to my LinkedIn network. And after connecting with him I learned even more important lessons from this expert in web communication.

While I was flying back to Boston, he’d created a Twitter account: @PanoramicSelfie. And in addition to Scavia and his Vines, the new Panoramic Selfie account on Twitter featured another Vine by Stefano Ogrisek, who had created a #PanoramicSelfie from Piazza Unità in Trieste.

Then, Ogrisek took a #PanoramicGroupSelfie with Andrea near #DuinoCastle.

Meanwhile, the folks at the Hotel Panoramic had retweeted the whole series of Vines.

That’s when I realized that the #PanoramicSelfie had jumped the shark. Actually, it had jumped the Atlantic, which is even more impressive.

Silvia Frau had taken a #Panoramic Selfie in New York City and Kornfeind had posted it to a Panoramic Selfie channel on YouTube that he’d created in his spare time.

Kornfeind has also created a Panoramic Selfie page on Facebook, which asks you to “spread the word when you Travel.”

Have I forgotten anything? Oh, I also posted some comments about the invention of the #PanoramicSelfie on the BE-Wizard! website. And I got a thank you on Facebook from the Panoramic Hotel for posting a photo of the beach taken from my hotel room. And I give the hotel a five-star review on TripAdvisor.

So, what lessons can we learn from all this?

First of all, web search interest in selfie came out of nowhere in December 2012 and has skyrocketed over the past 15 months, according to Google Trends. But, frankly, most people consider a selfie a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often associated with social networking, like Instagram, which didn’t introduce Video on Instagram until June 2013.

Web search interest in "selfie"
Web search interest in “selfie”

Now, some social media analysts – like William Miller of Socialbakers – think the simple addition of a video function is “How Instagram killed Vine for marketers.” Why? As Miller explained recently, “After Instagram rolled out its short video service in June of last year, it now offers both engaging pictures and video. Currently, Vine still only offers its signature 6-second videos, which (at least for brands) is not such a big draw.”

However, the Panoramic Selfie on Vine does something that a Panoramic Selfie on Instagram or YouTube can’t: It loops. And physically looping 360 degrees in 6 seconds while shooting a selfie with Vine is what makes the #PanoramicSelfie challenging and fun to create – and it makes the #PanoramicGroupSelfie even more challenging and fun to create with your friends, family or colleagues.

But, there’s also a serious side to this story.

Two weeks ago, Animoto reported the results of their new Online and Mobile Video Study, which found that 73% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product or service if they can watch a video explaining it beforehand.

Respondents also had interesting views on what types of video they would like to see more. From a tour of a restaurant’s ocean view to an interview with a conference speaker, people want to watch more video across industries, products, and services:

  • 42 percent of all respondents would like to see more product description or service demonstration videos, such as a 360 view of a product, how to play a game, or use a phone.
  • People would like to see more video content about electronics (57 percent), restaurants (39 percent), travel (34 percent), and exercise/fitness (33 percent).

And that’s exactly what the Panoramic Selfie does — and demonstrated that it could do 10 days ago. It gave a 360-degree view of the beach in front of the Panoramic Hotel and a 360-degree view of the lobby. It showed happy guests who had stayed at the hotel for four nights were still having a great time as they were getting ready to leave. Oh, I should add that these guests were also social media mavens who had just spoken at the BE-Wizard! 2014 conference about real-time web marketing in the travel and tourism industries.

Not bad for a mobile video app that is rumored to be dead. (As Mark Twain said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”)

Now, the Panoramic Selfie could just as easily been taken at the Bounty Rimini Adventure Club, the most famous disco, pub, restaurant, and pizzeria in Italy. (Then, it might have been called the Disco Selfie.) Instead, someone shot an Instagram video of several of the conference speakers and organizers from Titanka! having a wonderful meal on a Saturday night. That Instagram video was then shared on Bounty Rimini’s Facebook page. But that’s another story for another day.

What all this has taught me – and can also teach you – is that smaller, independent hotel chains (and restaurants) can compete successfully with the big brands by creating memorable moments worth sharing, targeting influencers, using free video apps, and marketing the results through social media in real-time. The fact that I had to travel more than 4,000 miles to learn these lessons is ironic. But, making lots of new friends – who just happen to gather annually near a beach along the Adriatic — made the journey well worth making. Capiche?


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