Everything You Wanted to Know About Social Video But Were Afraid to Ask
Video is well on the way down its path toward total domination of the digital landscape. Cisco estimates that by 2020 a million minutes of video content will cross global IP networks every second. And there’s good reason for the massive increase in video traffic: people like to watch. We’re wired to. We process visuals at a pace 60,000 times faster than we do text. We’re also more likely to remember and even feel emotionally connected with a story we see over one we read.
Video also has the power to activate audiences to share and comment on content. And as more of our content consumption moves to mobile devices, syndicated properties, and social channels, the video imperative will only become stronger.
What is “social-video” and why is it important?
“Social video” is brief video content that is optimized for social platforms and mobile devices. It’s created to appeal to the audience you have, while also aiming to reach an audience you don’t have yet. The main goal of social video is to drive engagement in the form of likes, comments, and shares. And it’s important because it’s one of the most powerful ways publishers can grow their audiences.
Firstly, video is more likely to be seen in social content streams than is other content. According to social measurement platform Locowise, out of 100 Facebook fans, almost nine will see a video post on average, while six will see a text-only post, five will see link posts, and fewer than four will see a shared image.
Video also engages audiences and gets them to take action more than other forms of content. In a Facebook IQ study conducted in the UK and UAE, participants watched video content on Facebook and Instagram 5 times longer than they did static content. On Facebook, posts with video also have the highest reach and generate more engagement per post. Locowise advises that every video you post gets 236% more people to engage compared to a status update, and with every comment and share your content earns, the more the impact is amplified.
There’s also a growing potential to generate additional revenue through social video. YouTube has offered ad opportunities for publishers for some time, and now Facebook is opening new paths to monetization. In January, the company announced it would begin testing mid-roll video ads with publishers. This would allow Facebook to insert ads into videos that are posted to the platform, with publishers earning 55% of the revenue that is generated, which is the same split that YouTube uses.
How short is short?
It’s short. In fact, one widely-cited statistic from 2015 places the average length of a view on Facebook at only 18 seconds.
The type of content we’re talking about here is consumed on social channels and mobile devices. With social, it’s all about immediate gratification. When audiences are scrolling through their feeds, they’re looking to consume content quickly in order to keep up to date on breaking news and trending topics. With mobile viewing, there are countless distractions that prevent absorption of anything longer. With shorter videos, audiences get the information they need in the time they have while on the go.
Wochit’s internal statistics show that 83% of videos on Facebook are between 30 and 90 seconds. Interestingly, those 30 to 60 seconds long are more effective for maximizing views, while those 60 to 90 seconds maximize shares.
If looking to monetize through Facebook’s new mid-roll options, time gets a bit trickier. The spots only run in videos longer than 90 seconds, and they start after viewers have been tuned in for 20 seconds. As the program rolls out at scale, there will certainly be new best practice suggestions that emerge as a result.
Can I just reuse the same video across all the platforms?
You can, but you probably shouldn’t. When most of us think of video, we envision the classic 16:9 widescreen format, but what was once the standard is now just one of multiple aspect ratios widely in use.
Horizontal is still the default for video we watch on our TVs and computers. The emerging popularity of vertical and square formats can largely be attributed to mobile viewing, which made up more than 50% of all video viewing in 2016, because we naturally hold these devices with the screen oriented vertically. Square video takes up 78% more screen space in a mobile feed than does a horizontal video. The previews for these newer formats are similarly more attention grabbing because they take up more visual space than would their horizontal counterparts, and that’s particularly important when dealing with cluttered social feeds.
Wochit’s own internal data for the last quarter of 2016 showed big month to month increases in the creation of square videos, with a jump of 22% from September to October, another 39% into November and finally another 20% in December. Similarly, vertical video production jumped a whopping 94% from October to November of last year.
Social channels, which all give preference for video content in users’ feeds, are also a driving force behind the proliferation of non-traditional formats, and each has unique features, algorithms, and methods of display that put a particular aspect ratio ahead of the others.
- Facebook: Square is best, with vertical a close second. Horizontal can still work, and in fact, it’s still uncertain whether it’s the only format that will work with network’s recently-announced mid-roll ad options, as presently all Facebook video ads are horizontal. For videos made using Wochit, square format has proven wildly effective, receiving 3 times more views, 3.2 times more comments and nearly 6 times more shares than do horizontal video posts.
- Instagram: Like with its parent, Facebook, square videos perform best, with completion rates 67% higher than those for horizontal videos on the site.
- Twitter: Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Twitter remains a horizontal-video game. In terms of visual impact, all formats are presented to scrolling eyes in the same way, which is one that favors 16:9. Additionally, the platform will obscure part of the preview frame for square and vertical video, again giving the edge to horizontal.
- Snapchat: This is who the vertical haters can hate for making the format acceptable, and it remains the only format that works on the site. Square isn’t even possible, while horizontal is a complete waste of your time.
Example of a horizontal format social video from CBS News, which has earned more than 119 million Facebook views. Click here to see the video on Facebook
Do I need to hire a huge video production team?
Not necessarily. The days of over-complicated video editing are over. Today, everyone in your organization can be video producer with limited training. From your marketing and social teams to editors and journalists, every member of your team who produces content can be empowered to produce video content, and given the medium’s importance, they should be encouraged to across the entire organization.
Can I afford to make video?
Yes, absolutely. In fact, you can’t afford not to. But video production today is a much less costly proposition than in years past. You don’t need fancy equipment because so much video is viewed on mobile devices that it’s perfectly acceptable to shoot using a mobile device. There are also a host of tools widely available that can help make your video production a low-cost and low-stress endeavor. From finding and cataloguing assets to editing and publishing from the cloud, there’s no organization too small or too financially strapped to have a healthy video production schedule.
Dror Ginzberg has over 25 years of experience in technology with a focus on video and related technologies. As CEO of Wochit, the video-creation platform he co-founded in 2012 that’s used by journalistic storytellers such as newsrooms, media brands, publishers, and professional bloggers, Ginzberg is enabling production of high-quality content at the scale and speed needed to meet today’s rapidly-increasing demand.