There’s been an explosion of growth in video on social media in recent years. Views of branded video content have increased 99% on YouTube and 258% on Facebook between 2016 and 2017. On Twitter, a video Tweet is 6x more likely to be retweeted than a photo Tweet. If you haven’t taken a closer look at the power of social media and video together, you’re in for a surprise. The numbers are big. Really big.
“I see video as a megatrend,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, February 2017
We could go on and on with more numbers like that, but it’s better to show you. Let’s see how brands are driving dramatic growth with video on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.
Facebook has the largest audience of any social network, with more than 2.07 billion monthly active users. That’s more than one-third of the world’s population, and a whole lot of those people are watching video. Around 100 million hours of video are watched every day on Facebook. Like YouTube, Facebook has a massive and diverse audience, which makes it harder to characterise than the emoji-filled landscape of SnapChat. The overall point to remember about Facebook is that people come to be entertained. In other words, cat videos. This video, for instance, titled “How to wrap your cat for Christmas 101” got more than 100 million views and 1 million shares.
Here’s another, titled “Loaded Scalloped Potato Dome,” which has racked up more than 85 million views:
But what if your company doesn’t have a cat and some wrapping paper handy? Clearly, there are a lot of businesses that don’t fit into the viral Facebook mould, and yet still score major successes. Of the 79 percent of marketers who have published video content on Facebook, 85 percent say it has been a success. So let’s take a look at some examples of how to drive real results with real businesses.
The warm fuzzy
Airbnb coined the term “vacation mom” to describe what your mom is like on vacation. They created a heartwarming video of travellers sharing their favourite vacation stories with their moms, with each traveler sharing funny things their mom does that qualifies her as a “vacation mom.” The result has been 2.4 million views, and a whole lotta warm feelings for the vacation rental giant.
Facebook video power tips
Make sure to experiment across a wide range of creative strategies to identify what works for your brand, and keep in mind that entertainment tends to win the day on Facebook, as does emotionally-charged content. Set goals (such as for more views or engagement) and track your performance. And consider going long. Facebook recently announced a change to the algorithm, “We know that completing a longer video is a bigger commitment than completing a shorter one… we’ve realised that we should therefore weight percent completion more heavily the longer a video is, to avoid penalising longer videos.”
Here are some more tips:
- Remember graphics: 85 percent of videos are viewed with the volume off, according to Digiday.
- Create playlists of videos: Make it easy for people to find similar videos.
- Add a featured video: You can pin a video to the top of your page to introduce your brand or highlight a new product.
- Upload videos directly to Facebook: Native videos give you analytics and better visibility in the feed.
- Make sure you have a call to action: Give them something to do after they watch (or during) the video with an on-screen CTA.
More video is consumed on YouTube than any other social network. Over 1 billion hours of video are watched daily on YouTube in 88 countries in 76 languages, according to YouTube’s statistics. YouTube is also the world’s second-largest search engine after its parent company Google. YouTube has tremendous reach, but finding people with so many other videos vying for eyeballs is the tricky part. Yet, marketers find overwhelming success on YouTube. Out of the 85 percent of marketers who have published video content on YouTube, a whopping 83 percent found it to be an effective strategy. Let’s look at a few of those companies who are hitting the mark.
Going beyond demos to what people really care about
For Groupon, using YouTube effectively required going beyond standard demographic targeting to create contextually relevant videos based on their audience and the kind of content they consume. For example, they created travel videos for jet-setters and recipe videos for foodies. Here’s a family activity-related video Groupon created for parents:
Putting videos in context has been Groupon’s formula for success on YouTube. According to Groupon’s CMO Vinayak Hegde, “Intuitively it makes sense — if someone is on YouTube searching for videos about microdermabrasion, you’d think they’d be more receptive to an ad about a beauty deal. The testing proved our instincts were right: contextual relevance really is key to success.” The campaign resulted in approximately 160,000 new paying customers, plus gave the company a 20 percent lift in brand favourability.
Get a bump that doesn’t break the bank
YouTube has a range of ad formats, but the bumper has to be one of the most tantalising. The six-second ads are short and sweet. But if you think six seconds is too little time to get your message across, check these out:
Go big in a small amount of time
See! Six seconds is plenty of time to give your brand some top-of-the-funnel awareness (even for understanding the hidden dangers of static cling). The key with bumpers is knowing you can’t do a little of everything. Go big in the small amount of time you have. If you want to focus on more than one point, consider producing a series of independent thoughts to cover each of your angles.
Hitting your target with YouTube video
YouTube has the most variety of video on any social network. People stream everything from entire movies to six-second bumpers. With so much range on YouTube and less clear structure, it’s essential to know your audience. Yet it’s harder to pin down what feels native here, especially when you compare it to more defined platforms like Snapchat (playful fun) and Instagram (visually engaging). Even if you don’t have a YouTube channel yet, start with what you already know about your customers. Here are a few more pointers to keep in mind:
- Get personal: With such a diverse platform, start by targeting your audience (whether you’re using AdWords or not). What are your most popular website pages? Who are the people looking for those products? Think about what they’d like to see. (Audience segments + context)
- Be more interactive and try new things: You have one of the widest audiences to experiment with. Learn more about what your audience wants to see by testing out a variety of video content, even interactive video. Then double down on what works.
- Release new videos on a regular schedule: YouTube is eating up viewing time from TV networks, so keep your content fresh if you want to pick up these viewers.
- Optimise your content so it ranks: Remember, YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. You’ll also be helping people find you from Google. Write great titles and metadata with engaging calls-to-action.
- Make sure you’re sharable: Enable embedding so people can share the love they feel after watching your video. Go to advanced settings in your Video Manager, then Distribution options, and check “Allow embedding.”
People love Instagram. For many people, it’s an alternative to information overload. There’s a seductive simplicity of gazing at visual content without having to read. Even though it’s not the biggest social network, a lot of users like it the best. A recent Forbes article entitled “Why Instagram Is The Top Social Platform For Engagement” broke the network’s success down to its highly visual nature and simplicity, which also works great on mobile. The stats on the network are impressive. There are 800 million monthly actives, 500 million daily actives and 250 million daily stories actives, according to Instagram company data. Marketers are loving it, too – 65% of video marketers plan to include it in their 2020 video marketing strategy
So how do you get the attention of all those Instagrammers? According to James Quarles, Instagram’s VP of business, “People are in a mindset of being open to discovery.” To harness that, Quarles recommends that the interests of users makes effective targeting signals for ads. It’s good advice for creating organic video as well. Let’s look at an example of how to do video on Instagram.
Ben and Jerry’s has fun playing with their food
Ben and Jerry’s releases a strong lineup of ice cream content to their Instagram presence, they’ve published more than 2,300 posts as of January 2020. Looking at Ben and Jerry’s delectable lineup of Instagram videos, they’ve got recipes, new product launches and just some videos of them playing around with ice cream. But one Instagram video has truly taken the cake: “5 Exercises to Define Your Core.” The video shows a series of hilarious exercises you can do with Ben & Jerry’s “Core” flavours, including deep core twists (twisting the spoon deep down into the tub).
Maybe it alleviates our dessert guilt or takes some of the pressure off that New Year’s resolution to get six-pack abs, whatever it is about this video sure strikes a chord – it’s racked up more than 1.2 million views so far.
Instagram power video strategies
While people love beautiful, playful moments on Instagram, putting in a little story (even humour) can get big results. Here are a few more strategies to rev up your videos on Instagram.
- Reduce words: Don’t make people read too much. Instagram is a visual medium
- Think in variations on your theme: People tend to find a theme and stick with it. Instagram accounts often have an overall look and feel, then keep repeating their theme in new ways.
- Keep it simple: Don’t get overly complicated, but keep the execution beautiful. People look to Instagram for simplicity and a breath of fresh air. Give highlights, not all the instructions.
- Maintain focus: Be single-minded in your focus on one idea for your video.
While Instagram is playful and sometimes funny, it’s still stylish and polished. Not so with our next social network. Snapchat captures the fun of drawing a moustache on someone while they’re sleeping. There’s a playful (sometimes prankster) humour, which many of the most successful Snapchat videos capture. And it’s definitely off the cuff. There’s a raw quality to Snapchat that’s all part of the fun. If you’re thinking that’s not what big brands and serious businesses do, you’re dead wrong. Check out some of the most credible businesses colouring outside the lines (and on faces) with Snapchat video.
General Electric’s emoji science
The global conglomerate has an amusing series on Snapchat that’s both on brand (science and technology) and on network (fun): it’s called Emoji Science. Here’s a video of Bill Nye the Science Guy doing an experiment with a little help from an emoji:
GE’s Global Director of Innovation Sam Olstein described the unique ways they use Snapchat in an interview with Fast Company: “The disappearing nature of its content encourages repeat usage and provides us with a unique way to celebrate invention with an expanding community of young fans.” What’s not to love about encouraging curiosity around science and encouraging young minds?
But is it all kid stuff?
If this sounds like kid stuff, it sorta is. In 2017, 36 percent of Snapchat’s U.S. audience was between the ages of 12 and 24, according to an eMarketer report. The same report shows the percentage of Snapchat users aged 35 to 44 at about 5.6 percent. That number drops to 2.8 percent for the 45 to 54 demographic and continues to drop as the age groups get older. But that’s changing according to eMarketer’s forecasting analyst Jamie Chung: “Older groups are now more likely to tune in for content.” And big brands are swooping in on the trend. Recently, Snapchat has done content deals with the NFL, A + E Networks, Turner and NBCUniversal.
Let’s see what adulting looks like on Snapchat.
The Washington Post on Snapchat
The Washington Post is pretty grown up. Here’s an example of some adult political coverage on President Trump’s first joint address to Congress:
There’s no crazy emojis (the bald eagle emoji is neatly drawn) or sloppy on-screen text (it’s typed). What you do get that’s very Snapchat is raw footage that gives you an immediate feeling of being behind-the-scenes. Ironically, in order to watch this Snapchat video, you have to go on Washington Post’s YouTube channel. Remember, this video has already disappeared on Snapchat. But if we weren’t looking for Snapchat content, would anyone really want to go back and watch a behind-the-scenes look at a joint address to Congress? Maybe not. It’s sort of like watching a pre-show again, it doesn’t make sense after the show. And that’s a lot of the beauty in Snapchat: documenting moments that will never happen again, and won’t be around for long. Snapchat Stories vanish after 24 hours.
Tips for your SnapChat strategy
Sometimes, the best place to fish is where no one else is fishing. If you’re contemplating using video on Snapchat, the field is likely to be more open now than in a few years, according to projected growth reports. Yet even with Snapchat’s growth, the results from marketers are the most mixed of any network. In our recent State of Video Marketing survey we found that 11 percent of marketers have used Snapchat video. If you’re not already on Snapchat and still on the fence, get an account and start watching other brands. Here are a few thoughts to help spark ideas and improve your strategy:
- Colour outside the lines to tell your story: People like text and emojis with their Snapchat stories.
- Go behind the scenes: Snapchat users gravitate to the raw quality of video that’s less produced and feels more real.
- Try repurposing content to video from your blog: Create a video based on a listicle on your website, and do quickie DIYs. Just be sure to adapt the content to video, point out helpful hints on-screen, and add plenty of emojis and notes.
- Embrace the fleeting nature of Snapchat: Get creative about timely events. Think of your Snapchat presence as a daily newspaper that chronicles your brand. What happened yesterday was old news. Your audience wants to know what today’s headline is.
- Keep it really real: The immediacy of Snapchat could make for impromptu interviews around your company and straightforward Q&As. Revel in the transparency of giving your audience an unvarnished look at who you are and who the people in your company are.
Although video is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Twitter, maybe it should be. According to Nielsen, Twitter video is two times more memorable than other premium platforms. The effectiveness of video within Twitter is pretty impressive, too. Video tweets are six times more likely to be retweeted than photo tweets. Why is that? There’s research showing people feel like Twitter video is organic in their social feeds and they respond better to it.
A report by IPG Media Lab explains the data like this: “The unique environment of social feeds, where content is personal and self-curated, has an impact on how video ads are perceived, specifically, as more ‘relevant to [consumers’] interests’ and ‘less intrusive’.” Let’s look at what a few brands are doing to make the most of Twitter video.
Major League Baseball video stats
MLB has a fun feature called “MLB Stat of The Day” that’s a video clip of the day’s best stat. It’s a fast way to see the highlight, even if you didn’t have time to watch ESPN or catch the last 10 minutes of local news. Twitter video can be up to 140 seconds, plenty of time for a big play. With over 29,000 views of this video, “MLB Stat of The Day” shows the success of creating a series. Making it daily is even better.
Ultra-fast ‘How-to’ recipes
Next up is a seven-second recipe video from Proper Tasty Recipes. Granted that’s too fast to tell you how you to make it, you’ll just feel like you did all the work. See how it works with this waffle grilled cheese video:
How to get people to watch your Twitter videos
While Twitter isn’t synonymous with video the way YouTube is, Twitter video may just be the undiscovered gem in your content strategy. Video has been shown to be more effective on Twitter than other networks. Here are some data-driven tips to help your video strategy. According to Twitter marketing research, there are four things that make people more likely to watch your video:
- Having an early story arc: This makes a video 58 percent more likely to be viewed past three seconds.
- Topical content: This makes your video 32 percent more likely to be viewed past three seconds and leads to 11 percent higher completion rates.
- Putting people in the first three seconds: This increases emotional intensity viewers have with the content by 133 percent (versus videos without people).
- Adding in words: Videos that have text are 11 percent more likely to be viewed, and they have 28 percent higher rates of completion.
Will you use video on social media in 2020?
In The State of Video Marketing 2020, we surveyed 656 consumers and marketing professionals about their plans for 2020. See how your strategy compares with what our survey respondents said:
- YouTube: 88 percent of marketers say they plan to use it in 2020.
- Facebook: 76 percent of marketers plan to use Facebook Video in 2020.
- Instagram: 65 percent say they plan to use Instagram video in 2020.
- Twitter: 38 percent plan to use Twitter video in 2020.
- Snapchat: Just 9 percent plan to use it in 2020.
Some things make so much sense, you can’t understand why you didn’t think of it sooner. Social networks are meant to be about shared experiences. Video communicates more in sight, sound and feeling than words or images alone. That’s why people can’t get enough of video on social networks. The companies you’ve seen here are examples of what’s possible. See what using video on social networks can do for your business in 2020.