Laura Petrolino

Riff App: Build Community and Have Fun

By: Laura Petrolino | April 8, 2015 | 

Build Community with Riff AppBy Laura Petrolino

I’m super excited about the new Riff App!

Now, I don’t often get really excited with new social media innovations. At least, not at first.

In fact, my mom will never let me live down the fact she is the one who first told me about Twitter and I brushed her off condescendingly, “Oh silly mother, that’s stupid. No one will use that Twitter thing.”

Or something to that effect.

My mom was on Twitter before I was. I don’t remember what finally made me decide to get on that Twitter thing, but considering it was where I originally connected with Gini Dietrich, I’m pretty glad I did.

Thanks Mom!

What is Riff App

So what is Riff App?

It’s a collaborative video app.

One person names a video (based on a theme, brand, idea,) and then it gets passed around your Facebook friend network (and then their networks, and their networks,) with people adding their “riff” as it goes.

Can we think about the possibilities here for a bit? Because they are HUGE.

  • Storytelling. We talk about the importance of storytelling in content marketing constantly. Digging into your customer stories, employee stories, community stories. Riff app allows you to do just that!
  • Market Research. Anyone who has ever turned to social media to ask a question (either business or personal), raise your hand. I know I have. Riff app allows you to throw a question out into the social sphere and hear what people have to say. In many ways I think of this as a very interactive and proactive social listening tactic.
  • Curation. Curate ideas, perspectives, and stories from around the world.
  • User-generated Content. UGC brings communities together, it makes people part of what you are doing and pulls them into the story. Riff app allows just that.

Pros and Cons of Riff App

Now like everything in life, Riff app is certainly not flawless and needs to be used carefully and with strategy.

First, you have only limited control of what happens once you send a video out into the world.

The creator of the video is able to delete the entire video, or simply delete clips that don’t fit the theme or purpose.

Likewise, all contributors can delete their own clips, or report clips they think are spam or offensive.

However, you can’t control who adds to your Riff.

Once you publish it, any of your Facebook friends can contribute. And once they contribute, any of their friends can contribute.

You also can’t specifically invite certain people to contribute through the app.

Once you share it, everyone you are friends with can view it through the Riff app and contribute if they’d like.

To me, that lack of contributor control is the biggest downside.

I’d love to be able to use this for brand ambassador groups, or certain select communities (hey Facebook, can you make that happen for me?).

Q&A for Riff App

Who sees your video?

When you are scrolling the Riff app, you can see any of the videos your friends have contributed to, along with “featured” videos.

As you can see, as more people in extended network after extended network contributes, your video could get pretty wide exposure.

You can also share the video anywhere: Facebook, any other social network, email…pretty much anywhere.

How do you make a new video?

This is highly technical, so let me walk you through this slowly.

  • Step One: Push the “start new video” button.
  • Step Two: Wait for the three second count down.
  • Step Three: Record your video.

I know, super intense, but you all can do it!

Now there is not video editing, so you either can delete and start again, or post what you did.

How do you like or comment on a video?

Now this is interesting, considering Facebook created Riff app.

You can’t.

The intention is to encourage collaboration, not discussion. T

he only things you can do is share the video or add your own clip.

Aren’t their other video collaboration apps out there?

Sure there are.

Most well-known are Weev and Jumpcam. Riff app is much simpler in design than either and most different because it leverages the connections already formed through the Facebook community.

Be Part of the Spin Sucks Riff App Experiment

As you know, we love testing things out here in the Arment Dietrich and Spin Sucks labs and we want you to be part of our Riff app experiment.

This morning I posted a Riff app video to my wall asking: Why does Spin Suck?

You can find it here or, if you are friends with me on Facebook, download Riff App and it will appear in your feed.

If you aren’t friends with me, feel free to send me a friend request so you can contribute, but the hope would be that even without being friends with me directly you are still connected through only a few levels of “Spin Sucks Crazies” separation and will be able to contribute regardless.

Also…please contribute– otherwise it will just be a video of me and my experiment will be a total failure and that will be sad. I DON’T WANT TO BE A FAILURE! Help!

What Does Riff App Mean for Communications Pros?

Who knows?

It could mean nothing in and of itself, but I like it as an experiment and as a challenge to us to look at unique and creative ways we can build and encourage community collaboration, whether through content, images, video, or something else.

The dynamics of Riff app naturally encourage collaboration, content distribution and social sharing, brand ambassadors, peer review, and community.

It also helps us take a look at what motivates people to participate in this way and how you can best focus that participation on a particular goal.

I like Riff app because it seems like a fun tool.

I like it even more as a symbol of how to best employ similar dynamics in our communications planning.

About Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

  • I need to start a campaign to get someone to say “Paula thinks Spin Sucks too” since my iPhone4 just can’t handle all this Riff awesomeness!!!! It’ll be cool to see how the experiment turns out! 🙂

  • biggreenpen Hahaha! We should just start a separate video of different people being your video proxy”

  • cool! does seem like fun. Thanks for sharing.

  • biggreenpen Does it really not? Can you not download the app? Inquiring minds want to know!

  • LauraPetrolino biggreenpen I like the way you think.

  • ginidietrich biggreenpen The issue is that the new update takes so much memory that I would basically have to strip all the apps from my phone, delete my pictures, stand on my head, tap dance, and whip up some bloody marys for a party of 40 in order to be able to squeeze the new update onto my i4s.  (There may be some obvious and elegant solution that I am missing, however.)

  • biggreenpen Ohhhhh. Yeah, that’s a huge pain. I had to delete all my photos from my 5 to accommodate the upgrade and it was super painful. I don’t recommend it.

  • I love that people are already doing this!

  • whitney_fay

    I can’t way to play with this app later!

  • However, you can’t control who adds to your Riff.
    Once you publish it, any of your Facebook friends can contribute. And once they contribute, any of their friends can contribute.
    Nothing can possibly go wrong here….

  • Danny Brown i see a chatroulette evolution here in the making.

  • ginidietrich yes but in your givenchy 9000 thread organic egyptian cotton robe hand stitched by benedictine monks in the swiss alps and your jimmy choo bath slippers you are still rocking it.

  • Howie Goldfarb

  • Danny Brown Howie Goldfarb I am pretty sure that was created by crestodina for the Vienna Beef account.

  • I am not much of a facebooker. I can see this app having potential if the bribery is right for brands. I do a lot of studying in the social space about what it takes to get people to take action and it takes a lot for anything branded.
    But definitely a lot of pitfalls here. My concern would be branded content and then something horrible filmed and me unable to delete everything or have it savable to haunt the brand later. For example a suicide or someone doing sadistic things to their cat for kicks. So much can go wrong.

  • Danny Brown Really; what bad could happen once you released control?

  • bdorman264

  • Are we friends? I thought we were, you know the whole Florida connection thingy at one time…

    I dunno, sounds kind of scary to me, especially if people can add anything they want to it. Plus, if it required face shots I would probably have to hire an actor…a much younger actor so it could match the high school picture I use for my Avatar….how often are you supposed to change those anyway?

  • Howie Goldfarb Danny Brown crestodina Wow! Not even noon and this post has already inspired wiener memes. I call that a success!


    SpinSucks lkpetrolino this is a great app! My mind is buzzing with #tothePowerofGirl possibilities!

  • Howie Goldfarb Danny Brown crestodina Despite the wieners….

    (I actually don’t have much more to add, I just wanted to start a comment say “despite the wieners.”)

    I do agree with you Danny, The lack of control limits smart usage of Riff for brands. But I still like it because it makes me think about ways to create fun collaborative opportunities and I think will be an interesting thing to watch – and hopefully learn from- to potentially fuel those.

  • bdorman264 Well, I’ll give you a heads up if I want you to contribute to a video so you can start auditioning actors to play you.

  • whitney_fay Oh you better! I’ll be patiently waiting to see how you and Katie add to it! Chop, chop!

  • LSSocialEngage I better see your clip on our Spin Sucks video missy!


    SpinSucks lkpetrolino this is Awesome! My mind is on fire with ways to use it!

  • lkpetrolino

    JOUZGE Yay! Could be some really fun ways to use it for Jouzge for sure!

  • I think this is just another app to draw the crazies out….

  • Darryl Robinson-Keys

    I added a video…..

  • Arment Dietrich, Inc.

    You are too funny!

  • Digital_DRK some of the crazies anyway! #TheOnesWithRazors 🙂

  • biggreenpen  #electricrazors

  • LauraPetrolino whitney_fay Whitney will rock it. Of this, I have no doubt. 🙂

  • So, Hitler and Papa Doc can contribute…??!!  Oh, wait. You have to be Facebook friends first….

  • whitney_fay

    LauraPetrolino belllindsay Eek! There’s pressure now! I’m nervous!

  • Howie Goldfarb I think you need to write a blog for us about what it takes to get people to take action. Please and thank you.

  • belllindsay I’m just not even sure how to respond to this!

  • belllindsay LauraPetrolino whitney_fay We are waiting Whitney!

  • LauraPetrolino #winning!!