“Video is where it’s at in 2015.” Wow, big insight there, huh? Every social media commentator and his dog has been yapping on about the rising importance of visual elements for the last four years, with video being the latest in that trend. It’s no big news that video is rising in importance; that Facebook’s introduction of autoplay videos has put it on track to beat out YouTube as the leader in online video content sharing. This information isn’t new, but the impending introduction of Twitter’s native video product is going to sway the momentum even further, and there are a few things that brands need to keep in mind when considering video content.
1. Making video content is not a strategy in itself
Yes, videos get shared alot, people are clicking on them more, videos increase brand reach. But the data behind this is also disguising an important element – it’s engaging video content that’s being shared.
If you look at the latest report from Social Bakers on video sharing, you can see that Facebook video posts are now outperforming YouTube video posts on the network.
While those stats are amazing – as is the fact that Facebook users are viewing 1 billion videos per day – what the data doesn’t reflect is the average engagement per video post. Now, obviously, that’s a more subjective stat – there are 100 hours of videouploaded to YouTube every minute, and of that, there’s going to be some that’s junk, mistaken uploads, things that have no business being there. What studies have shown, however, is that the majority of videos don’t get viewed at significantly high rates. A small number of videos get shared a lot, and those ultra-high performers skew the overall stats, dragging up the performance figures overall. While videos do get shared more widely and do generate higher levels of engagement, it’s the content of the individual video that’s important, not the existence of the video in itself.
While this may seem obvious, the distinction is important because Facebook page owners are looking to create more video as a result of graphs like the above. But many of them have no idea what to create – they’re not thinking about what’ll be engaging, what’ll resonate with their audience, they’re just reading ‘video is crucial’, processing that, then setting out to make their own videos (some at a significant production cost) with the hopes that by posting video content their engagement rates will soar. That’s not good strategy, that’s not the guidance that should be given. The videos that get shared are videos that compel sharing, that people watch and instantly want to forward onto their friends. In this piece by Jessica Novak, Jessica discusses the elements her company has found generate the most shares of their content – and how sharing behaviour often relates to the content itself – e.g. a picture of a cat might get more shares but fewer clicks, while an article about sex will get more clicks but fewer shares. The point is, you have to have a point – you have to know what’s being shared amongst your communities, why it’s being shared, and you have to use that data to inform your video creation strategy in-line with your content goals.
Video is powerful and will generate great engagement, when employed the right way. But making video just because that’s what you’ve read you should do, without a clear strategy or goal in mind, is probably not going to improve your overall results.
2. Short videos (or condensed versions of longer pieces) are important
There was much scoffing when Vine announced their 6-second time limit for videos on their platform. What can you do in 6-seconds? Turns out, a lot – there are now more than 40 million people using Vine, with 12 million Vine videos uploaded to Twitter every day. Some Viners have gone on to become quasi-celebrities, signing endorsement deals and getting paid by big corporations to assist them with ads. Vine is a big deal, and it’s ongoing growth highlights what can be done in just 6-seconds of video.
While the details are still being finalised on Twitter’s video offering, word on the information superhighway (do people still use this term?) is that Twitter native videos will have a limit of more like 20 seconds in length. While this is more than 3X a Vine, it’s still not much, but given the real-time focus of Twitter, and that these videos will most likely be auto-play, that time limit makes sense, and in practical terms, shorter videos are the one’s getting more view-throughs on Facebook – if you’re scrolling through and you see some joke e-mail, you might hover over it and see how long it’s likely to take to get to the punchline. If it’s only 20 seconds long, you can probably spare half a minute.
The important note here is that your video content needs to capture attention quickly, needs to draw the viewer to it and get to the point within a short time frame. One hand hand, this means more planning and strategy in order to condense the right elements to make the most engaging video content you possibly can. On the other hand, your obligations in creation are reduced if you only need to create 20 seconds of content, as opposed to a 10 minute epic.
While the time limits will be restrictive to some, there are countless examples of great, impactful videos that capture the essence of what they need to communicate within a short time-frame. You just need to cut out the non-essentials, pare it back to basics.
One of Ernest Hemingway’s most powerful short stories is, in total, six words long:
For sale: Baby shoes, never worn
Brevity need not negate impact.
3. Videos can have a great many uses
When people hear video they automatically think of commercials, maybe cinematic-type storytelling that will show the brand’s heart in one succinct clip. And that’s great, if you can do that, definitely go for it, but storytelling is not the only thing video content is good for. Consider Lowe’s award-winning ‘Fix in Six’ campaign, where they used Vine videos to demonstrate simple DIY tasks. Consider GE’s ‘6 second science’ videos, which highlighted ‘miracles of science’ captured in tiny video pieces. There is virtually no limit to what you can do with video, you’re only restricted by your imagination – and, of course, what works in alignment with your overall brand strategy.
One of the big benefits of video is the video tutorial, showing people how to do something, or the demonstration video, showing users what your product can do. With the introduction of Twitter videos, this type of short, instructional or educational content could significantly boost engagement and differentiate your brand – imagine being able to tweet a short tip that auto-plays when sent to the user. While storytelling is extremely powerful, there are many ways to utilise video outside of the norm. In fact, those that are outside of what you’re used to, those that show something people have never seen before, those are more likely to compel sharing and conversation and to spread your brand message. As with the above notes, you don’t want to do something out of the ordinary for the sake of it, but think about the why of your brand, the overall mission and purpose of your marketing plan. Think about how video can portray those values, give something to your audience that’s entertaining, different, useful. As with the first note, the point is to have a point, but don’t be restricted to any one form of content.
Videos, absolutely, will be big in 2015. Everyone knows that – if you don’t know that by now, you’re probably well behind the eight-ball either way. But the important thing to consider is what does video ad to your marketing, what can you do with it? As with social media generally, there’s no point opening up a Twitter account and a Facebook account and broadcasting out your brand messages in the hope that your customers will come. That’s not going to help, you’re not going to boost engagement unless you utilise those platforms in an engaging way – by listening, by communicating, by providing content that people are interested in. Same goes for video – without a purpose behind it, it’s just another ad. And you know those ads, the annoying ones that come on over and over during your favourite shows. On TV, they’ll keep beaming into your living room based on how long the advertiser has signed up, but on social, without shares and interactions, those commercials will be ignored. And they’ll just die right out.