The first video I watched on YouTube was completely forgettable, but the experience was anything but. It quickly became a requirement in my circles to know all the trending YouTube videos. YouTube quickly evolved to become the most widely used social video platform, and has held this spot unchallenged. Until now.
As YouTube approaches its tenth anniversary, it’s losing ground to social competitors Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine. These platforms improved their video products significantly in 2014 and early 2015 to enable brands to engage followers like never before. Each platform has created a unique video product and it’s important to optimize your content to engage customers effectively.
Facebook’s video product has been around seemingly forever, but until mid-to-late 2014 it wasn’t widely used as a platform for brands to publish video content. Facebook decided early on not to drive traffic to Google-owned YouTube, reducing what used to be a full visual preview of the video to a single thumbnail. Since then, Facebook has made significant developments in its native video product in order to attract advertisers and brands to spend more money promoting their videos. And it’s working for brands like Heineken—its video featuring comedian Neil Patrick Harris acquired views from 35 million users over just three days.
For brands to have impact with video on this platform, they need to grab the attention of a user in the first few seconds and do so without sound, as most views will come from muted auto play. To do this, brands should develop video with an attention-grabbing hook in the form of a text overlay or visually creative intro scene. To keep the attention of the viewer, brands must continue the text overlays throughout the video. Buzzfeed does this extremely well, introducing each segment of its video with an intro slide and text slides for the video sections.
Twitter introduced video only recently to brands and individuals, launching it with a video from… you guessed it, Neal Patrick Harris. It will take time for brands to determine the strengths of this platform in terms of their native video product and its advertising capabilities, but AdWeek has an interesting take on what’s in the works.
It’s important to remember the strengths of this platform when determining a strategy for using video on Twitter. Conversations happen in real time and you can easily connect with specific followers. If your campaign calls for a high level of personalization, specific targeting and live video, Twitter could be a strong platform for your campaign.
— Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH) January 27, 2015
Instagram, as a platform, has seen significant growth in the past year among almost every demographic. However, use of the service remains strongly biased towards photos over videos.
Instagram recently updated its platform to loop videos, as seen in the Samsung video below. Tumblr and Vine also employ looping content and brands have seen higher engagement from this experience. With looping videos, brands have the ability to create videos similar to a graphics interchange format (GIF). This looping feature could play a significant role in view count being monetized for advertising on Instagram.
For a brand to succeed on Instagram it will need to creatively harness Instagram’s looping feature, produce high quality videos, and properly leverage influencers to promote videos for the brand.
A video posted by Samsung Mobile (@samsungmobile) on
While Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will likely see more emphasis on branded videos and content, platforms like Vine and Vimeo will remain influential platforms among creators, as these platforms serve a specific set of niches.
Vine enables users to film, upload, and post six-second videos. The native app also allows you to shoot in stop-motion, which users have embraced to create ultra creative, easy-to-digest short clips, like Mashable’s below. In order for a brand to maximize its impact on this channel, videos must be succinct and integrated into to an overall campaign that truly engages the native audience on Vine. Brands looking to Vine’s demographic should also use influencers on this platform to create content around their products and campaigns.
Vimeo is for all the die-hard content creators that prefer its platform controlling and publishing videos. Often labeled the “anti-YouTube,” Vimeo places emphasis on creators, and creating an environment where you can enjoy videos without the constant barrage of ads that you find on YouTube.
For a brand or personality to have impact on this channel, skip reposting your ad or commercial, and develop content specific to this platform. Consider doing a studio series bringing in popular artists and branding the experience, or empowering native creators through sponsorships to produce organic content.
The increasing importance of video is clear. As these platforms further develop their products, brands must adapt to add or refine video capabilities to their social campaigns, or use influencers to do it for them. Brands using video will need to personalize each experience for the user in a presentation format that coincides with the native experience of each platform, or face low engagement.
Posting an extended version of your commercial on YouTube is no longer a viable social video strategy. While YouTube will remain an influential source of video content for the foreseeable future, it’s not the only player on the field, and the video appropriate for one channel may not work on the others. Brands seeking high engagement and reach will benefit from a multichannel approach that takes into account which platforms their target customers are using and the type of video content best suited to those specific platforms.
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