Business Insider’s latest BI Intelligence report examined the impact of social video on the digital distribution and consumption of video content. BI defines social video as “video that is influenced — in any part of the pipeline, from production to distribution — by social media.”
It’s no surprise that social media has become entwined with our video consumption habits, considering it also informs most of our other behaviors from shopping to parenting to interacting with friends and family. What is interesting, however, is how it is actually changing video content itself.
Social media audiences aren’t known for their attention spans, so new video content is being condensed to suit their viewing habits. BI calls it “snacking” on video. Shorter videos are more conducive to sharing, and some of the newer social mobile video apps like Instagram, Vine and Tout limit video duration to 15 seconds or less. The average duration of an online video was 5.6 minutes in April 2013, compared to 6.6 minutes one year ago, according to comScore.
In the last five years, every digital shop has gotten the request from a client: “make us a viral video.” Going viral is the end all, be all of video advertising, because it directly translates to awareness, impressions and even PR that didn’t have to be paid for. While there’s no formula for making a viral video—it simply has to trigger the right emotions at the right time and in the right context for mass sharing—many content creators are developing video specifically with that goal in mind. That means catering to the modern viewer. In addition to shorter durations, today’s online video viewers demand authenticity, which means steering content away from branded marketing speak and not being afraid go for real emotion.
In pursuit of the viral video holy grail, many brands have even turned to amateur videographers that have seen success on YouTube and Vine to create content for them. It’s a risky prospect for many brands, but those who take the risk and strike the right emotional chord with audiences can reap amazing rewards. BI does note that the entertainment and consumer goods verticals are most ideally suited for the medium.
The influence of social video and the brand impact of viral video have led to an influx of digital video advertising, BI states. Data from comScore shows that 85 percent of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video in April 2013, and video advertising is now up to 13.2 billion monthly views in the U.S. alone.
Another interesting finding is that YouTube, for a while the hub of all online video, has begun to stagnate in the last year terms of audience views while Facebook’s video viewership numbers have skyrocketed, growing 18 percent in the last ten months to 63 million unique visitors. YouTube’s audience is still twice the size of Facebook’s at present, but the trend seems to dictate that the two will soon meet in the middle.
One thing is true of all of the social media sites: mobile is an enormous opportunity for audience growth and monetization. Sitting in front of the tube is no longer our only way of viewing video; these days we watch TV and movies streaming from our tablets while waiting at the airport, or on our smartphones while slogging away on the Stairmaster. So video content is shifting to be both viewable on those devices, and shareable via our social media apps.
Social media is also not just a place to view and share digital video; it also actually influences the content that we watch. Data included in the BI report shows that consumers are more likely to enjoy video that has been recommended via their social network, and also more likely to finish watching a socially recommended video in the first place.
What all of this means for digital video advertisers is that social media continues to open up more and more opportunities for them to build brand awareness and affinity amongst an extremely influential audience group. But their video content can’t be just any old repurposed commercial or marketing collateral; it has to be authentic, resonant and it must meet the guidelines set down by those audiences with regard to format. Investing in real creative talent, and not being afraid to find it via more uncommon avenues, can help brands harness those opportunities for a major payoff.