Why Video Rules Social Media

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors at an earnings call last year that he wants his social network to be “video-first,” calling it a “megatrend” that he intends to make a priority across his family of apps.

A decade ago, few users had internet connections fast enough to justify investment in online video. The web was text-first, photo-second, and video-hardly at all. Today over 100 million U.S. households have broadband connections fast enough to stream video to their heart’s content. What’s more, the revolution has been untethered: half of all Americans have a 4G-enabled mobile device.

Buffering and loading issues have mostly been banished and now video is slowly but surely becoming a dominant format on the web. Networking giant Cisco estimated that by 2021, three-quarters of all mobile traffic will be videos.

State of the Stream

With the floodgates open, a whole world of video content is being experimented with, including explainer videos, unboxings, inspirational messages, behind-the-scenes looks, funny clips, and long-format art pieces. Major brands are moving quickly to build out their own content libraries with evergreen videos that can be watched over and over on YouTube, ephemeral activations that win mindshare for just a day on Snapchat, and regular updates on Facebook to keep loyalists engaged.

“64-percent of consumers said a Facebook video influenced a purchase decision they made in the previous month.”

On social media, every channel may have its own character and quirks that resonate with a particular audience, but every single one has a place for video. YouTube and Snapchat are obviously video-heavy platforms, but Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn still trade heavily in moving content.

Facebook, in particular, is moving aggressively to counter YouTube’s dominance as the default place to share videos, and it’s extensive demographic targeting features make it increasingly attractive to marketers. Plus, while Youtube dominates in raw view counts, Facebook is encouraging higher levels of engagement.

A report by social media analytics firm Unmetric found that the same video shared by major brands like Quaker Oats, Hyundai, and Adidas on both platforms had significantly more interactions on Facebook. YouTube has tools for commenting and sharing, but far fewer users employ them than they do on Facebook, which is built from the ground up for social activity.

The ROI of Video

All that video is doing more than just entertaining, it’s become a major economic driver. According to one study, 64-percent of consumers said a Facebook video influenced a purchase decision they made in the previous month.

That would explain why video was the fastest-growing ad format in 2017. TV’s influence may be on the wane, but the power of moving images isn’t, so brands are directing their creative energies to where they can do the most good.

The best video strategy is to cover all your bases and spread video content to multiple channels, but to make tweaks for each. For example, YouTube audience are willing to watch longer videos than most other platforms and Facebook videos should be made with the understanding that the audio might be muted. Videos intended for Snapchat have to be mobile-optimized and vertically formatted.

Feed Your Audience

Putting your videos in front of the right eyeballs is undoubtedly important. But, even more vital to brand building is creating content that your audience will react positively to.

There’s no secret sauce for engagement, but certain broad categories of content are almost always well received. The internet is famously receptive to funny, educational or informational, and emotional or inspirational content.

Video audiences are incredibly fickle. Today’s viral sensation is tomorrow’s forgotten fad. But, the appetite for new content is insatiable. The name of the game is building a content strategy that produces a consistent flow of high quality work to share your brand story.