Social Media

The top social platforms are going after video in a big way. In social media, it used to be all about the photos. For years, “images are king” was the prevailing content strategy for brands in social. 

Brands flooded the feeds of Facebook and Twitter with everything from carefully crafted micro-ad images to unpolished pics with minimal branding. They developed campaigns based around meme generators and user-generated photo contests. They devised image-heavy onslaughts of content on Tumblr, dipped a toe into the Instagram stream and marveled at the website traffic that could be generated by a smartly executed, yet deceivingly simple, Pinterest pin. 

And while brands have been huddled over a product shot, trying to make it look like a box of cereal just snapped a selfie, video content has been making its move in a big way.   

Watch It in Social

According to an eMarketer report “Video Advertiser: How Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat are Changing the Rules,” as of January, YouTube captures nearly 20 percent of U.S. video advertising spends. And Facebook is gunning for YouTube hard, even adjusting its algorithm to increase the reach on uploaded video versus uploaded imagery to brand pages. In October, Facebook ranked as the second-biggest online video property in the U.S. and that’s just on desktop.  

Social platforms are the second most popular place for Internet users to watch video online, right behind video sites and digital video apps. Last year, users watched more digital video on YouTube (75%) and Facebook (33%) than Netflix (28%) and Hulu (14%). In June 2014, Cisco Systems predicted that video would account for 80 to 90 percent of global consumer Internet traffic by 2018.

New Video Products

As Facebook-based video campaigns like the Ice Bucket Challenge capture the public’s attention, Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest have recently made their own play for advertiser dollars. 

In February, Twitter announced a wide launch of their promoted, in-stream video product, which had been in beta with select advertisers since August. Recently, Snapchat announced that their 10-second video ads will cost just two cents per view and be available to Snapchat Discover publishers. And in May, Pinterest announced video ads called Cinematic Pins. Like Promoted Pins, these motion-censored video ads are specially formatted to blend into pinners’ home feed. Pinterest hopes the auto-play videos, which move in relation to how quickly a user scrolls through the feed, will be less disruptive than Facebook’s auto-play video units. 

Stream It Live  

Apps devoted to live video streaming have popped up recently as well, adding a new dimension to the “crowdsourced newsroom” function of popular platforms like Twitter. Meerkat debuted in March and was quickly popular on Twitter, where it had a direct link to allow users to post live video to their followers. Shortly after its release, Twitter announced its acquisition of live video streaming app Periscope and cut off Meerkat’s access to Twitter’s social graph. Nine weeks after its launch, Meerkat had gained two million users. Periscope hit a million users in 10 days. Despite the grappling between the two apps, it was clear that live video streaming was in demand for social users. 

In terms of what livestreaming video could mean for brands, look to sports. Live events have long been a benefit promoted by cable providers. In April, thousands of viewers used livestreaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope to watch the heavily touted boxing match between Mayweather and Pacquiao, neatly avoiding Pay-Per-View’s fee. 

Livestreaming video makes sports leagues and their television partners nervous in the short-term, but could present a new way for brands to engage in real-time marketing. 

It is too soon to tell if Cisco’s prediction for video content will come to fruition. For many, images are still king in social media. But if video continues its evolution, becomes even easier to make, more accessible and shareable online, it’s certain to become social’s queen.  


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