Picture Tom, a 27-year-old. He’s on a bus on the way to meet friends for dinner. To pass the time, he’s scrolling through Facebook and stops when he sees a video related to his favorite football team – who are playing that night. It’s a short clip, showing a dramatic goal, which Tom immediately ‘likes’ and shares to his friends. Before the video of the clip itself, he sees a flash of branded advertising – “this goal brought to you by ABC Beverages".
In a nutshell this story defines what we mean by ‘social video’, a term which has grown in usage across the content creation, marketing and advertising sectors in recent years.Let’s get to grips with what social video is, before looking at how your organisation can take advantage of the opportunity it presents.
Context: the explosion in online video
It’s no secret that online video consumption has increased dramatically in recent years and disrupted traditional video publishing models:
- There are more than 8 billion Facebook and Snapchat video views every day
- There is more than one billion YouTube users worldwide
- More than a third of respondents to a recent AdWeek survey reported they only consume video content online
In early 2017, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg told investors: “I see video as a mega trend, [in the] same order as mobile”. There has been a vast growth in video consumption online in recent years – and software firm Cisco predicts that a million minutes of video content will cross the internet every second by 2021.
Of course, there are many different types of video available online, and not all of this counts as ‘social video’. From streaming websites to product demos and videos of cute animals, there’s vast amount of video being transmitted online which isn’t strictly ‘social’. So what exactly do we mean by ‘social video’, and how’s it different to other kinds of online video content?
Social video defined
Definition of social video: Social video can be defined as digital videos which are designed by content publishers to be shared on social media platforms for a specific business purpose.
This definition allows us to differentiate social video from other types of content. Social video is a kind of content designed specifically and intentionally to be shared on social media platforms (rather than a company website or broadcast over a streaming service). Unlike ‘viral videos’ spread on social media that can be created by anyone, we take social video to be a kind of video with a specific business purpose – usually in terms of advertising or for boosting engagement with a broadcaster.
What this means:
- Social video needs to be highly shareable: the content should be easy for viewers to share
- Social video needs to be optimized for a range of social networks: different platforms such as Instagram, Facebook or Twitter have different requirements for video
- Social video needs to play well on different devices: it should look good on small screens and load fast
- Social video will typically be short in length: it will rarely last more than a minute
- Social video will have a business purpose: it should be branded in some way or contain an advertising message
What does social video content look like for broadcasters?
Social video is clearly growing – but what does it actually mean for broadcasters? Here’s how one broadcaster began creating social video content:
- beIN Sports are a leading sports broadcaster in the MENA region
- They purchased rights to broadcast the 2018 Football World Cup across the region
- Aware of the new trends of social video, they also wanted to distribute clips of goals, shots, fouls and other events during games direct to social media platforms
- They used a clipping tool which allowed staff to ‘live clip’ matches then automatically distribute these across all the social media platforms where beIN’s viewers are
- This resulted in thousands of additional clips being shared and viewed by end consumers – all with beIN’s sponsors’ messages
As this example shows, social video presents a compelling opportunity for broadcasters, advertisers and consumers alike. And it’s not just sporting events – anything from politics to entertainment to cookery shows can be live-shared on social media in this way.
Let’s explore why social media is growing, before looking at how publishers and advertisers can capitalise on the opportunity it presents.
Why is social video so popular?
Social video is becoming an increasingly popular way for brands, publishers and consumers to interact. This is because:
- Videos are easy to consume and their messages are often easier to understand than lengthy text-based content
- There are multiple psychological reasons people choose to share news, stories and views on social media – and video is an excellent means of sharing an idea fast
- There is a growing trend to ‘multi-screening’ – consumers are often using many different screens at the same time to consume content – such as watching a program on television while simultaneously finding more about it on their smartphones, for instance. Social video can provide instant replays that viewers can look at again in their own time
The benefits of social video
Publishers and advertisers who can tap into these trends can expect to reap multiple benefits from creating and distributing social video. These include:
- Increased brand engagement
- More frequent exposure
- Access to the fast-growing market for video on social media
- Respond to consumer demand for content on multiple different platforms and devices
- More interaction with consumers
- More insight into what resonates with audiences
What are the leading platforms for social video?
According to research company Tubular Insights, the most widely used social video platforms in 2018 are:
Any business trying to provide social video will, of course, need to ensure their videos can be played easily on these (and other) platforms.
So what about the kinds of content consumed as social video? Tubular Insights provide more enlightenment in their Q3 2018 State of Online Video report where the most viewed content types include:
- News & politics
- Food and drink
Any broadcaster who can rapidly share clips around these themes on social media platforms can expect a leap in engagement with their content.
The challenge of social video for content creators and advertisers
Social video clearly represents a valuable opportunity for content creators and advertisers. However, it also poses a number of technical and strategic challenges too. Let’s explore these now.
The technical challenge of rapid creation and distribution
Social videos need to be created, edited and distributed to viewers fast. This requires timely editing, as well as the know-how to distribute the content to all relevant social media platforms and ensure files display correctly.
Finding the audience and the platform
Different kinds of audiences use different social media platforms. For instance, Facebook is widely used across generations, while Snapchat is generally targeted at younger audiences. Some social media platforms are used everywhere in the world – whereas certain countries have their own equivalents – think Twitter versus China’s Weibo. Choosing the right social media platforms to distribute your content will therefore require research and testing.
Creating social video for specific verticals
There is little value in a broadcaster simply distributing all types of content from one central point. Audiences want to see content that’s truly relevant to them – so it will be essential to use different social media outlets to distribute different kinds of content. If you are a sports broadcaster, for instance, you may want to set up different content pages for different kinds of social video – one page for football, one for tennis, another for golf, and then ensure the correct social videos are distributed to each.
If your organisation is aiming to invest in social video as a means of engaging with today’s audiences, these challenges need to be addressed strategically.
Ready for social video? Now understand the practicalities involved in implementing it
We have defined social video as “digital videos which are designed by content publishers to be shared on social media platforms for a specific business purpose”.
This implies that there are three key actors involved in social video: content creators, advertisers and, to a lesser extent, content consumers.
- Content creators film new video, or re-purpose existing content to share over social networks. The goal is to find ways to distribute content in a timely and relevant manner
- Advertisers will pay to have social videos branded with their logos or a relevant message. The goal is to increase brand exposure to specific and relevant target audiences
- Content consumers will view, like and share content that they enjoy and which they perceive as relevant and good quality
For each of these groups, social video will have an impact on their behavior. Let’s look in more detail at how this plays out for each group in turn.
Content creators: implementing social video strategies
A content creation organisation may be a traditional broadcaster or an individual content production agency. In either case, if you wish to create social video, you will have to implement new strategies:
Editing and re purposing content
To implement a social video strategy, content creators are required to edit and re purpose their video content – often in real time.
This will mean:
- Ensuring consistency in style
- Configuring video content for different social media platforms
- For any ‘live’ content you wish to share, you will need software which facilitates live editing and sharing
Content creators need to know their audiences. And in the world of social media, these are ever more differentiated. If social videos are just a few seconds long, the content has to be highly relevant and interesting – otherwise it’s not worth sharing:
- Deciding on how to differentiate your audiences and target them with specific kinds of content
- Potentially creating new pages and sub-pages for fans to follow on different platforms (e.g. a finance news broadcaster setting up individual Twitter feeds for their fin-tech, currency markets or commodities trading news briefings)
- Finding out which platforms your target audiences are on
- Dealing with the technical challenge of configuring all social video to different platforms
Changes in process
Content creation is often fast-paced. Social video only adds more time-pressures:
- You will have to make editorial decisions in a fast-paced environment – asking: “is this the kind of content we should be distributing?”
- There may have to be a review process put in place every time a video is sent out
- It will be essential to check every video to ensure it complies with editorial standards, breaks no regulations and keeps advertisers happy
- The social videos you distribute will need to be measured and monitored to ensure they have impact
Advertisers: implementing a social video strategy
Social video is potentially very exciting for advertisers. It allows you to have your brand associated with timely and exciting events - think again of our example in the opening paragraph of this article, where a brand associates itself with an exciting goal in football. What’s more, if a video is shared widely, this could potentially result in huge exposure for your brand at no extra cost. All the same, the following issues need to be considered:
Control over the content itself
You want to be confident your brand is associated with positive moments and messages – whenever social video is distributed, you will need assurances the content itself represents your brand. In the fast world of social video, however, this could be a challenge. It will require:
- Setting clear definitions of the kind of social video you want a broadcaster to associate your brand with – and what isn’t permitted
- Ensuring that the right kinds of ads are being seen by the right kinds of audiences – for instance, ads for alcoholic drinks should only be presented to adults
- Making sure your advertising message is relevant. If you are a sports brand, your ads will seem irrelevant on a thirty-second social video clip from a cookery show, for instance
Measurement has always been essential in advertising, and this is especially important when it comes to social video.
- Setting targets for the number of views per video
- Tracking the impact of those views in terms of clicks, for instance
- Measuring ROI of ad-spend
The final group that is affected by social video is, or course, the end consumer. To be effective, social video will need to be:
- Relevant to their interests
- Timely – related to current or recent events
- Easy to share
- Fast loading
The bottom line is that consumers will be the judge of whether your social video content is any good – if it is not relevant or of high quality, they will simply ignore it.
Social video presents an enormous opportunity: but requires serious planning if you are to succeed
Audiences today want to access relevant content fast. They want to consume it on their own time. And they want to watch it on any screen they like, wherever they are.
The good news? Social video responds to all of these needs - by providing relevant, interesting and useful content which is shareable and engaging.
For content publishers, it allows them to reconnect with today’s consumers who are less attached to traditional television. And for advertisers, it provides a way to associate their brands with positive or powerful moments and provide highly targeted advertising. When social video strategies are implemented correctly, everyone wins – consumers, content creators and advertisers.
However, creating and distributing social videos in a cost effective, timely and efficient manner remains a challenge for many providers. But, through a smart strategy and an in-depth knowledge of your audience and their needs, social video has the potential to boost engagement and achieve significant ROI.
Social video is the biggest new opportunity for broadcasters: make sure you capitalize on it.
Wildmoka provides the tools to support your social video strategy. Learn more about them here.