How Businesses Can Use Instagram's Boomerang App

Imagine this: A friend just unveiled an epic dance move and you’ve got to record the best part. You pick up your phone and open the Boomerang app. “Ok;" you say, "do that thing with your shoulders again, on the count of three.” One, two – you tap the Record button and a short series of snapshots is captured in rapid succession. Voila! Your friend's epic-ness is now on a sped-up, infinite loop, playing forward and in reverse. You've just made a Boomerang video. 

Brought to us by Instagram, Boomerang is a neat addition to what makes their social platform so addictive. Though native photo and video sharing are now core to Instagram’s identity, Boomerang is a unique hybrid of the two – closer to a .gif but decidedly quirkier.

Its short burst of 20 frames can pack quite a punch. Like Instagram itself, Boomerang isn’t just for sharing memories with friends. Businesses can take advantage of the app’s unique features, too. But if you’re a small team or one-person operation (like me), you may find recording Boomerang videos challenging. With such a short time constraint (Boomerang videos are just one second, according to TechCrunch), what on earth do you focus on? And how can you actually be in the frame plus shoot it plus make sure it's aesthetically consistent with your brand?

With a few handy tools and a little creativity, you can absolutely craft thoughtful, brand-aligned Boomerangs that meet a variety of business goals. First, we'll go over my recommended list of tools. Then, we'll tackle specific aspects of your brand that is prime Boomerang video material. 

But first, please note: My tools and tips are tailored for iPhone users, but many, if not most, can certainly apply to Android lovers. 

The Essential Tools 

In addition to my iPhone, there are seven pieces of equipment that I consider vital to great Boomerang video shooting.

From left to right (excluding the phone):

1). Apple EarPods with Remote and Mic - The volume controls on Apple headphones act as shutter release triggers for both videos and pictures.

  • To reduce camera shake, I can prop my phone on a wall and use my headphones to capture a great Boomerang video. 
  • Or, like this example shows, I'll attach my phone to a tripod, then gently place the headphones under my foot. Once I'm positioned and ready to take the Boomerang video, I'll lightly tap on the volume control to trigger the shutter.
  • And I'll admit: If I need to incorporate both hands in a Boomerang video and the headphone cord is too short to reach my foot, I'll gently place the headphone's volume controls in between my lips and press when I'm ready to film. But be warned: It's likely not a good idea to get your headphones wet, so exercise serious caution if you want to try this tip. 

2). and 3). Insignia Tripod and Bluetooth Shutter Remote - Investing in a bluetooth shutter remote is a helpful alternative to using headphones as an iPhone camera shutter.

  • Bluetooth remotes eliminate the risk of having headphones showing in your Boomerang video's frame.
  • It also gives you a greater range in movement and distance. I'm unable to pinpoint the maximum distance for the kit linked above, but some shutters (like the Muku Shuttr) allow you to be as far as 30 feet. 
  • I've also found that you don't even have to directly point the bluetooth shutter at the phone. As long is it's in range and is recognized by your device, you can trigger it in a number of places, like in your pocket or on the floor. What better way to capture an epic, full-body dance move of your own?!
  • Plus, having a small tripod, like the kit linked above provides, allows you to take stable Boomerang videos on-the-go. Though not suitable for every circumstance, use it to capture outdoor shoots and group shots anywhere. 

4). FastCap Tech SuperMount - A sturdy, at least semi-professional tripod (I share the one I own below) offers incredible versatility in crafting compelling photos and videos. But to make a tripod that's not specific to mobile devices work, you'll need a separate mount for it. The FastCap SuperMount that I use is super-simple; it gets the job done and works for a number of device sizes. But with any mount you choose, be sure to get one that can extend to your device's width comfortably.  

5). Manfrotto 131D Lateral Side Arm - For capturing a visual story straight down, like on a table or floor (check out #flatlay on Instagram for examples), a lateral side arm is indispensable. I absolutely love the one I own from Manfrotto. With a traditional camera, it allows me to compose things like time-intensive supply displays without having to worry about shutter speeds. And when creating Boomerang videos, I can have both hands in the frame to share glimpses into my crafting process – more on that later. 

6). Oben BE-117 Ball Head - To capture landscape or portrait content on cameras and phones, you'll need to invest in a good ball head to go with your tripod. I attach my FastTech SuperMount mentioned above to the ball head first, then attach the ball head to the tripod. 

The Oben BE-117 ball head that I have works fine enough; it allows me to take carefully composed selfies with ease. But, to be honest, I wish it was a little more stable. I've found that I have to tighten its screws more often than I'd like, and have still experienced some camera shake with it.

7). Induro AT313 Tripod (discontinued) - A great tripod is the cornerstone of my Boomerang video-taking essentials. To get more bang for my buck, I opted for the tallest one I could find, one that matches my height as close as possible (I'm 6'0"), as well one heavy-duty enough for solid camera bodies and lenses. The Induro option that I own is also great because the legs extend in a number of ways – you can stretch them horizontally to, say, have the tripod be positioned directly over a small kitchen table. 

The specific model I have is unfortunately discontinued, but you can find alternatives on B&H and Amazon

Now that we've tackled the tools of the trade, let's get into our other topic of discussion: What exactly can a business owner share through Boomerang videos? Lots of things! Here are five ideas for you to consider.

Show YOUR Process

Own a bakery? Create a Boomerang video of you decorating delicious cupcakes with sprinkles. Make jewelry? Capture the moment you put on a piece's final touch. Don't make physical goods? No problem: Even business owners in service industries can capture their day-to-day activities with Boomerang videos. Apply the final coat on a client's newly manicured hand, or simply share a Boomerang of a decorated desk, with you typing away at your keyboard.

Announce a Promotion 

Convey the element of surprise by announcing flash sales and other promotions with shiny props and color. It's an easy way to grab the attention of your followers and get them excited – and an especially good tactic to consider during key holiday months. 

Play With New Products

Releasing a new line of products, or offering a new service? Do a little dance with it, or show it in action. Making product releases or service announcements personable right from the start can help current and potential customers see how it could fit in to their own lives.

Encourage User-Generated Content Just for Boomerang

Seeing real people excited about a business helps unfamiliar observers feel at ease. Encourage existing customers to take a Boomerang video of them enjoying a product or service that you provide, and have them share on Instagram or Twitter with a unique hashtag. You can point people to the hashtag feed for real-life examples of what you offer, and (with permission) repost especially good submissions to your own social media channels.

It's like an upgraded version of a written review! 

Emphasize a key Product Feature

On a hat that I made, a stitch mistake became an opportunity to make an unexpected pocket. Little details like this also make perfect Boomerang moments! Show off tiny but mighty things that make your business special, such as the personalized gifts you give to clients or the unique way you package a finished good. As the saying goes, it's the little things that count, and sharing your little things can lead to new business in a big way. 

So, there it is. I hope this doozy of a post (it's a long one!) provides you with ways to incorporate Boomerang into your marketing strategy. Follow my own Instagram story to see more Boomerang video examples. Plus, discover the creative, custom solutions I offer to help tell your business' story through words, images and more.