Online video marketing in 2015: Be everywhere

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • Driven by the mainstream (and global) adoption of powerful mobile devices, consumption of online video has grown at a tremendous pace
  • Along with the leading global channels (such as YouTube), regional or national platforms (notably China’s Youku) also play an important role
  • Major social channels, especially Facebook, Instagram, and, more recently, Snapchat, have also emerged as significant platforms for online video

In marketing circles today, the two words on everyone’s lips are “mobile” and “video.” Both trends are linked to the changing way consumers are accessing and communicating on the Internet: anywhere, quickly, on multiple screens, and increasingly via images rather than text. Recent research has found that our brains process visual data 60,000 times faster than text, and that 40% of people respond better to visual information than text.

Smartphones and tablets, which are now used more than PCs to connect to the Internet, serve as key conduits for photos and videos, especially among youth. Some estimates have it that video will account for 69% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2017. In the meantime, the average amount of time spent watching online video is projected to increase by 23% this year, and 19% in 2016. In China alone, an estimated 428 million online video consumers spend an average of two hours per day viewing video content.

The question today for educational marketers is not whether to create videos aimed at students (this is now a given), but rather how and where to invest in video marketing. The days of simply posting a video to YouTube and linking to it via every other social platform in use are over; YouTube now has serious competition from Facebook and Instagram – and, out of (seemingly) nowhere, Snapchat.

Hello, Snapchat

Snapchat was launched in 2011 by three Stanford students and is now vying with Facebook and YouTube to be the millennials’ video platform of choice. This is a surprising turn of events given that Snapchat videos – like its chats and pictures – vanish after 10 seconds (though they can be seen again using Snapchat’s “Stories” feature for 24 hours as well as the recently launched “Replay” feature).

snapchat-profile-screen
The Snapchat profile screen

Snapchat announced last week that “6 billion vanishing videos are viewed daily… in a three-fold surge from early this year.” Snapchat’s 6 billion video “views” compares to Facebook’s latest announcement of 8 billion daily views (twice as high as earlier this year) and YouTube’s 4 million views. It is important to note, however, that each platform measures views differently, as the infographic at the end of this article reveals; for example, Facebook counts a “view” for any video clip played for at least three seconds versus YouTube’s 30-second “view” requirement.

Why Snapchat?

Tech reporter Maya Kosoff, writing for Business Insider, conducted a small focus group survey with Snapchat users between the ages of 18 and 26 to learn about their habits. Asked which features of Snapchat they use, one survey participant answered:

“Photos and videos – when people chat me I think ‘why?'”

This is a telling comment that sheds light on millennials’ growing preference for image-based over word-based communication. Part of the reason for this shift is that millennials now expect to express themselves, receive information, and share what’s important to them immediately.

Past studies have shown how many Facebook and Twitter posts with links to articles in them are shared and liked without the user having clicked on the link. It is that impatience, that addiction to clicking, that is behind the sudden rise of Snapchat. Snapchat’s speed – the speed at which it allows users to communicate as well as the speed at which content disappears – mirrors the behavioural impulses of today’s youth. Nick Bilton, writing in The New York Times about kids’ obsession with Snapchat, notes:

“Children are incredibly impatient – especially in an age where downloading a song, watching a video or looking something up happens as quickly as their fingers can tap a smartphone screen. This is where Snapchat excels.

When you open the app, the phone’s camera is already turned on. So you’re right in message-sending mode and can take a photo or video in seconds. You choose whom you’re going to send it to afterward.”

And this is why it is important for educational marketers to consider posting videos to Snapchat – as well as to Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube – as well as whatever social media apps are popular in their target markets.

Adjusting video to multiple platforms

Despite the meteoric rise of Snapchat, platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube remain essential for posting videos – not the least because they allow for longer, more persistent videos than Snapchat, but also because they continue to attract massive user audiences. Their ability to keep growing is due to the fact that today, social media users use multiple platforms to suit their changing moods and tastes. Enjoying a Snapchat video, for example, does not preclude enjoying a YouTube video. One could use Snapchat in one moment and in the next, click a YouTube video someone had linked to on Facebook. Click, click, click, click, click, in other words – that is the manic rhythm of our social media use today.

Martin Beck, writing for Marketing Land, does an excellent job in distinguishing what various media platforms call for (and provide in terms of available analytics for performance measurement) in video creation. He writes, “Each platform has unique requirements, metric measurement capabilities and sharing features to keep track of” and has this to say about video length:

“How long can your video masterpiece be? Keep in mind that if you’re trying to use the same video across multiple platforms, a lowest-common denominator approach might be wise. Aim for Vine, and you’ve got a six-second video that works most anywhere else. Aim for Instagram and its 15-second maximum, and that also can work on many other platforms. Anything longer than Twitter’s 30 seconds and you’ll be limited to YouTube, Facebook and Tumblr.”

Please see the end of this article for a helpful infographic related to video on the various platforms.

Considering the goals of video creation

There has been a good deal of opinion in marketing news this year about the wildly varying definitions of what constitutes a video “view.” For some experts, a view only matters if it achieves real engagement with the viewer, something the videos shared on Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine are less able to achieve given their short – or even disappearing – quality. To be sure, it is difficult to really tell a conventional “story” on these platforms – which is why YouTube remains a compelling destination.

But telling stories is not the only purpose of brands’ presence on various social media platforms today. Just as important is being where the target markets are – in the case of educational marketing, meeting students where they are. If students are viewing videos on Snapchat, no matter the videos’ length – then they are viewing them there, period. They are engaging with content there simply because they are choosing to consume it there. So the educational marketer is wise to be on Snapchat, as well as on other platforms to be able to tell longer, different stories.

When it comes to platforms allowing longer-form videos such as YouTube, the goals are different. Amy Gesenhues, also writing for Marketing Land, interviewed a series of media executives on their goals regarding video creation. Here are two illuminating responses:

  • Why YouTube is important: Tammy Gordon, VP of AARP Studios (the media arm of AARP, a retirement support organisation) says, “If someone is specifically searching for a topic, they will be more patient when viewing YouTube videos, resulting in consistently higher watch times compared to Facebook.” Ms Gordon notes that her team is “interested in view-duration, tracking the percentage watched in relation to the full length of a video” and says, “we create content that reflects this goal, and we often see viewers stay engaged until the very last second.”
  • Looking for shares: When asked about video metrics, Gerome Hiquet of ToughMudder (a fitness and teamwork-building organisation) says, “We don’t want consumers to view a video and close their screens; we want them to spend time engaging with our websites and social channels, sharing our videos within their network, and, then, ultimately, purchasing tickets to participate in an upcoming event.”

Where should you be? Statistics provide clues

Facebook: As mentioned earlier, Facebook currently boasts 8 billion daily video views, with more than 500 million people watching videos on the site every day – and 1.39 billion people now use Facebook on mobile devices, including more than 1 billion on Android. Facebook has just announced that in September 2015, over 1.5 million small businesses posted video to Facebook. Three-quarters of Facebook users (75%) are outside of the US.

Instagram (owned by Facebook): 400 million monthly active users are on Instagram, and 90% are younger than 35 (41% are between 16 and 24). Seven-in-ten Instagram users (70%) are outside of the US.

Twitter: Of Twitter’s 320 million monthly active users, 80% are on mobile, and there are more than 40 million registered users of Vine, the video sharing app used by Twitter. More than three-quarters (77%) of Twitter users are outside of the US.

YouTube: Over a billion people use YouTube, and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours of video on it and generate billions of views. Most (80%) of YouTube’s views are from outside of the US, and YouTube has launched local versions in more than 70 countries. YouTube reports that “the number of hours people spend watching videos (aka watch time) on YouTube is up 60% year over year, the fastest growth we’ve seen in two years.”

Snapchat: 100 million people use Snapchat every day, and 71% of users are under the age of 34; 45% are between 18 and 24 years of age. Most Snapchat users live in “mature” Internet markets (e.g., the US, Canada, the UK, and especially Ireland).

WhatsApp: The popularity of this messaging service (which allows users to send pictures and videos, too) is relatively low in the US and very high in other parts of the world. At the end of 2014, 8% of mobile Internet users were on WhatsApp, compared to at least 70% in Spain, Hong Kong, Singapore, Argentina, Malaysia, and South Africa. GlobalWebIndex also notes India and Mexico as huge WhatsApp markets.

Other messaging applications allowing users to send and receive video: Needless to say China has its own distinct social and video platforms, the largest of which have accumulated massive audiences. For additional background, please see our earlier post on China’s social and mobile web.

GlobalWebIndex reports: “Elsewhere, the success of WeChat in the Asia-Pacific region is typical of this being the region where Facebook’s two messaging apps face their biggest challenge. In fact, Line is tops in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand; BBM is wildly popular in Indonesia; Kakao Talk leads in South Korea; Zalo is significant in Vietnam; and WeChat has the Chinese market sewn up. All this makes it pretty clear that APAC is the region yet to fully succumb to WhatsApp and Messenger.

an-analysis-of-major-online-video-platforms
An analysis of major online video platforms. Source: Marketing Land



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