A few years ago, we said that video marketing was taking over. Now, we can confidently say that the takeover is complete. In recent years, there has been a dramatic uptick in the dominance of video, and it’s not slowing down. Video dominates the marketing landscape on every platform and for virtually every demographic. If you’re not working in video, you’re getting left behind. Don’t believe us? Consider this:
A third of online activity is spent watching video content in some form or another. 85% of the US internet audience watches video, including four billion people watching videos on Facebook every day. Combined, more video is uploaded to the internet every month than the major US television networks have created in 30 years.
All of this comes alongside unprecedented fragmentation. It wasn’t long ago that there was one way to consume video content: your TV. Now there’s Youtube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and dozens of others. Consumers are cutting the cord from traditional TV broadcasts and separating into smaller communities watching only the exact content they want to see. Marketing is changing — you’ll need to change with it.
Social Media Platforms And Video
It’s not a trend — social media as a platform for video content isn’t going anywhere, at least not any time soon. Yes, video is more difficult to create than text posts and links, but if you don’t have a plan to incorporate it into your social media strategy, now’s the time to start.
Let’s talk about platforms. In broad strokes terms, video on social media generates 1200% more engagement than text or photos.
Video posts on Facebook reach 135% as many people as photo posts, according to Forbes. Youtube has reached two billion logged-in monthly users — that doesn’t even count the viewers that don’t use Google accounts when they visit the site. 45% of internet users watch more than an hour of Facebook or Youtube video a day — not quite at the level of traditional TV, but closing the gap.
Facebook sees over 4 billion video views every day (defined as at least three seconds of video playback), and 100 million hours of video are consumed by 500 million people on Facebook every day. The average engagement on Facebook videos is 6.01%, higher than any other form of content on the site.
Youtube remains the king of online video hosting, with more than 2 billion monthly logged-in users — not as large as Facebook’s audience of 2.74 billion, but keep in mind that Youtube is unique among most platforms in that an account is not required to view content. The actual number is likely to be much higher.
Youtube also dominates video reach — 74% of American adults use the platform, compared to 68% with a Facebook account and 40% with an Instagram account. Unlike other social platforms, which see significant dropoffs in usage with older age groups, Youtube has a strong showing across ages. 77% of 15–35-year-olds use the platform, while 67% of users over 56 use the platform. This unique level of reach also extends in the other direction. 80% of U.S. Parents say their kids aged 11 and under watch Youtube, while most platforms have a minimum age of 13.
Instagram began as primarily a photo-sharing platform but expanded to include Stories and IGTV content. In 2020, Instagram launched Reels, a short-form video format that has rapidly grown in popularity to generate 67% more engagement than regular videos. Though the regular feed and Stories can include both videos and photos, 40% of Instagram’s users are creating daily video content through Stories.
Twitter — once the home of short, quippy, digestible content — is experiencing its own video renaissance. Tweets with video are six times more likely to be retweeted than text or photo tweets, and total video watch time increased by 72% between 2019 and 2020.
Even LinkedIn, ostensibly the least trendy social media platform due to its professional-oriented branding and older user base, has seen significant upticks in the effectiveness of video. According to Hootsuite, video is the most re-shared form of content on the site, and users are 20 times more likely to share a post containing video as one containing text or an image.
LinkedIn users have also enjoyed significant success with live content — brands see seven times as many reactions and 24 times as many comments on live video as they do on regular video.
Quality Isn’t Always Crucial
An interesting trend in video production and consumption has been the massive rise in low-quality, low-production-value video content. While there are obviously Youtube channels and brands that still produce extremely high quality, cinematic content, there’s an equally large (if not larger) push toward off-the-cuff, relatable content shot and streamed directly from a phone or webcam. Pewdiepie, one of the most popular producers on Youtube with over 110 million subscribers, shoots his videos from his computer chair with a simple webcam and rudimentary lighting.
This trend is also exemplified with the rise of extremely short-form video, often less than a minute long. Consider the following:
- Youtube Shorts, video clips less than three minutes long, reached 14 billion daily views in the first year after its launch
- Snapchat, limited to 60 seconds (though users can publish many videos in sequence), gets 14 billion daily views
- Instagram Stories, limited to 15-second clips, reach roughly 500 million people per day
- Instagram Reels, introduced in August of 2020 and limited to 15 seconds, have already seen millions of views on popular accounts.
- TikTok, limited to three minutes (though until July 1, 2021, videos were limited to 60 seconds), reached 1 million daily views in February of 2021.
What all these platforms have in common is that they’re typically shot directly on a smartphone, very lightly edited with overlaid text, stickers, or music, and published. As a result, they can be produced quickly and easily.
Users seem to appreciate the lack of polish as a sign of authenticity, making video content more relatable and digestible. As an added bonus, this type of video is much easier for brands to produce. As long as you’re loyal to your brand voice and image, producing a 30-second video for one of these platforms should require a minimum of planning and execution.
The Dominance of Live Video
In 2018, 18% of online video was live. By 2020, live video constituted more than two-thirds of all internet traffic with no sign of slowing down. Some key statistics:
- 67% of consumers were watching live video by the end of 2018
- In Q2 of 2019, Twitch users watched nearly three trillion hours of video
- 60 of the most viewed YouTube streams happened in the last two years
- 70% of consumers who stream video do so at least once a day
This trend represents an interesting turn from what looked like a trend away from live video. With the rise of online streaming and DVR, customers seemed to prefer watching their video content on-demand, on their own schedule. Now, almost half of Generation Z watches their favorite shows live on social media (often while talking with friends on other platforms), and live news, concerts, and conferences are making a strong comeback. In many cases, the content is still available after the stream is no longer live, but it seems that users are expressing a strong interest in the sense of community they get from watching the same thing at the same time as their peers.
Streaming Video Is The New Cable
Make no mistake: cable TV is still huge. There’s a reason the Super Bowl is famously some of the most expensive ad space money can buy.
But cable is losing its footing at the top of the media mountain, and streaming is getting a little close for comfort.
“Cord-cutting” is getting more and more common — by 2022, 55% of Americans will have cut the cord as compared to only 22% in 2018. Most of these users object to the cost of cable TV, but in many cases, it’s simply a matter of usage. If all your favorite shows are on streaming services (which are releasing hundreds of original shows and movies every year), why bother with cable?
That doesn’t mean that these cord-cutters aren’t watching video content anymore, though — they’re just streaming like crazy. Over-the-top (OTT) video services — a term for media providers who produce content directly over the internet, bypassing broadcast TV channels that would normally curate such content — have grown through the roof in recent years.
Netflix boasts 182 million people watching at least once a month. For Amazon Prime, the number is 175 million. Hulu sees another 99 million. Apple TV+ has around 40 million. There are also plenty of other services — Sling, Youtube TV, Fubo, Acorn, Vudu, CBS All Access, ESPN+, and so on — that cater to specific niches.
There’s also a new category of digital content — streaming platforms launched by networks that have always been primarily cable networks. Disney+ has 110 million subscribers. Peacock has 54 million, thanks to a significant boost from the 2021 Olympics. Paramount+ claims 42 million.
Due to the success of original content — Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu have all been awarded Emmys for their shows — many users have multiple streaming accounts. And 30.1% of internet users use some form of ad blocker. What this means for the advertiser is that not only is it harder to get your whole audience in one place, but it’s hard to serve them an ad once you do find them. Marketers have to be more creative.
Video Best Practices
So you know how important video content is — now how do you make the best video you can? Length is key: people often see video in passing, while browsing Facebook or Instagram, so videos of less than two minutes are likely to produce the highest engagement.
That doesn’t mean there’s no room for longer-form video content. There’s a “sweet spot” of engagement between six and twelve minutes long, so if you have a more complex topic to cover, feel free to put the time in. Don’t make your video longer just to make it longer, though — several short, focused pieces of content are more effective than one long one.
Strategy Comes First
Before you publish anything, you should have a strategy in place. If you publish videos that seem disjointed and unrelated — either to each other or to the content that your customers are interested in — they’ll lose interest.
Timeliness will be important when planning your video content. You should be able to anticipate big events, relevant holidays, major sales, and the like far enough in advance that you can create content before it’s actually needed.
You’ll also need to consider whether to react to real-time events. Sometimes, news stories will break that are extremely pertinent to your business, and you’ll have to make a snap decision as to whether to address them or not. The answer is not always yes — if you don’t think you can create a relevant, on-brand video on short notice, leave it alone. Talk about the news in the form of text and photo posts instead. When it comes to breaking news video, being late is as bad as not addressing it at all.
To plan, get a lot of people involved. Actually creating the video is certainly not something you want to do by committee, but when it comes to planning, the more ideas, the better. Get a bunch of people from different parts of your company in front of a whiteboard and start writing stuff down. When it comes to raw ideas, anything goes — maybe customer service gets a lot of questions about a particular feature that can be addressed in a tutorial, or maybe sales has noticed that no one’s taking advantage of a particular pricing plan.
When it comes to the content, your main goal is to inform. Remember, you’re getting new customers all the time, so even things that seem obvious to you might be helpful. Explorations of your current products, explanations of features, sneak peeks at future products, and ideas for how to best use your product are all useful.
You can also use videos to humanize your company. To many customers, you’re just a faceless logo or a website where they type in their credit card info. Putting a face and a name behind your brand will make customers like you more and foster stronger loyalty.
To that end, use video to tell the story of your brand. Give product recommendations based on what you and your employees actually use. Solicit questions from social media in an “ask me anything” format, then answer them on air, remembering to call out exactly who asked the question in order to make them feel heard. Shoot some behind-the-scenes footage of how your company runs, or show a day in the life of one of your products. Pull back the curtain a little, and your customers will stay more interested in what you’re doing.
Brand Consistency Is Key
With everything you publish online — social media, text on your website, photos on your blog posts, and yes, your videos — you are creating a brand. People will start to link together the sights, colors, vocabulary, and tone of what you do online, crafting an impression of you in their mind whether you like it or not.
This “personality” that your company projects in the minds of everyone you interact with is your brand, and it’s vital that that brand remains consistent. You don’t want to have an appeal so broad as to be bland and meaningless — Target and Wal-Mart both have extremely wide customer bases, but you’re not likely to confuse a TV ad for one of them with an ad for the other. They’ve managed to cultivate very different ideas about what they’re “for,” and everything they do feeds into that.
Finding your brand’s voice is difficult — we have more info on branding and how to find and express a voice here — but well worth the effort. Your videos should use logos, colors, and fonts that match up with the logos, colors, and fonts on your website and social media. The vocabulary you use in the video should sound like the words you use in other contexts — make sure the person in the video and the other people who write copy are on the same page. If you use bright colors and vivid imagery on your site, your videos should look similar — the last thing you want to do is create a video that doesn’t “sound like” you.
There’s a slight caveat to this. We mentioned above that low-production-value videos account for a significant chunk of online video consumption, and to some extent, brand inconsistency can be forgiven if you want to participate on these platforms. While you don’t need to add the polish, colors, and logos that would make the videos match your brand, personality is still paramount. Stick to a “north star” of personality — the defining voice and tone that represent your organization — regardless of video quality.
Where and When To Post Video
Your strategy meetings should address where your video will be hosted and what your schedule looks like, as well. Whether you’re creating video in-house or paying someone to do it, there will be an upper limit to how much content you can create in a given time. Don’t over-reach — if you can only produce one video a week, it’s better to do that consistently than to try for once a day and fall behind or compromise quality.
If you decide to center your video strategy on Youtube, create a channel, brand it consistently, and keep it updated. Youtube offers a ton of features for content creators — playlists, channels, cross-links, ads, and more — so use them wisely. Upload everything you do to Youtube. Your customers should have to work to find what they want to see.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should only post to Youtube. Your videos took a lot of work, so spread them far and wide. Cut teasers or previews out of them and post the shortened versions to social media to drive traffic to the main video. Embed the videos into relevant web pages and blog posts — if you use Youtube’s embed tools, the views will still count toward your stats. Put them in emails, too!
Finally, think about timing. Traffic varies a lot over various platforms — not everyone is looking at the same things at the same time. You’ll need to look into the way your particular target markets and buyer personas use the internet, which sites they use, and when they use them.
Some people like to read emails first thing in the morning, some catch up on news after work at the end of the day. And there can be a big difference between posting at the right time and posting randomly — you can read more about it in our social media pillar here.
Video Moves The Needle
Video isn’t just about being flashy — it actually works. Studies have shown that people need multiple points of contact with your brand to start remembering who you are, what you’re all about, and whether you’re a good solution to their problem.
Video is one of the more powerful points of contact — it generally takes 5-7 times of being exposed to a brand for people to remember it, but video can fast-track that process. When it comes to videos, viewers retain 95% of the message — when it’s text alone, that number falls to 10%.
Video isn’t just about being noticed on OTT services and social networks — it can be a big boost to your bottom line as well. For one thing, search engines notice videos. They constitute a more compelling, relevant, and useful user experience, and tend to keep people on your site longer, which leads to an increase in traffic — up to 157% more traffic from search engine results pages.
Video can also help increase conversion on your landing pages once people reach your site. IF you have a landing page that’s trying to convert a visitor to a customer, or even just to solicit a follow-up, an explanatory video can increase conversion by up to 80%.
Consider product videos as well. If you run an online store that carries thousands of SKUs, making a video for each one might not be plausible, but we’re willing to bet you have a few cash cows that sell in much higher quantities than the rest. Make a video showcasing what they look like, how they work, and their best features. Some of those videos can be reused — for example, if you make a video about how to change a bike tire, it can be embedded on the product page for every tire you sell.
Customers want to see product videos — nearly half of them look for videos before committing to purchasing a particular product, and 64% of customers make a purchase after watching a branded video on social media.
Of course, we’re not discounting the possibility that people who watch product videos are already farther along in the buyer’s journey and ready to buy in the first place. But we all know that the buyer’s journey isn’t a guarantee — someone on the verge of purchasing might change their mind and go elsewhere if they don’t find the information they need. A product video is a branded, useful, timely piece of content that can turn an almost-purchase into a repeat customer, and that tipping point is too valuable to ignore.
Video is More Than Just Ads
Over the course of 2020 and 2021, usage of online video shifted significantly. In addition to video advertising and influencer video, brands started to use both live and pre-recorded video for a variety of other purposes in order to engage with their customers:
- Webinars: when in-person events are impractical or too expensive, broadcasting a webinar in order to disseminate important information is an excellent alternative to long-form written copy.
- Demonstrations: companies can create useful, in-depth demonstrations of their products to help people who are too far away for a local demonstration, helping with product adoption and customer satisfaction
- FAQs: customers retain information much more effectively from video content than they do from written content, so you can address your customers’ most common issues and questions with video and ward off a significant number of service calls.
- Testimonials: your prospective customers are much more likely to trust a testimonial from an existing user than they are to trust any of your marketing materials, and that credibility is only boosted by video content. If your customers are willing to participate, video testimonials can be a powerful marketing tool.
Some Final Thoughts
It’s all too easy to think that video is a flash in the pan — lots of marketers have trouble believing that today’s internet audience has the attention span to watch videos.
But with the increased fragmentation in video content consumption — people aren’t watching TV as much, they’re watching streaming services and Youtube and blocking the ads — online video has found a niche to step into.
The numbers don’t lie — online video content, usually in short formats, is on the rise and not slowing down. A third of people’s time online is spent on video, and 85% of US internet users watch some kind of video on a regular basis.
Not only is video ubiquitous, but it’s effective. Engagement rises, organic search goes up, and conversions follow. The fact is that video isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and if you’re not participating, you’re missing out.