3 Ways to Determine Which Social Video Platform Your Brand Should Use

Jul 14, 2016

Have you ever felt like you can't keep up with all the new social video platforms hitting the market?

YouTube, Twitch, and Vimeo have been around for a while, but over the years a host of new contenders for video attention have spawned. There's Vine, Tumblr, Twitter Video, Facebook Live, Facebook Video, Instagram, Periscope, Snapchat, YouNow, Musical.ly, and even more. And as a content-based business owner or marketer, you're "expected" to get to know them. All of them.

While the plethora of social video options may be confusing and even overwhelming, the truth is that choosing which one(s) to use to promote your brand doesn't have to be as complicated as much of the marketing industry makes it out to be. In fact, making this decision can, and should, be based on age-old, traditional marketing principles. Focusing on these guidelines, which are always relevant no matter what platforms come and go (and they do/will), will ensure you reach more of your audience, make the most impact, and even end up bringing in more revenue for your brand.

Here are three ways for your company to help decide where best to invest your social video efforts:

1. Always Consider Your Audience First 

This is such a simple, traditional marketing concept that's often overlooked. Brands can't exist without their customers and fans, yet more often than not companies subscribe to FOMO (fear of missing out) at the expense of their audience. Instead of asking where their fans spend most of their time online, a brand will often say things like "Our competitors are using Snapchat, so we should, too" or "I heard YouNow is the next big thing; shouldn't we be jumping on that ASAP?"

Your social video efforts won't matter a single bit if you don't pay attention to which platforms your audience prefers to use. Getting yourself in front of their eyes is, after all, the goal with marketing through social video. Why waste your time elsewhere? In truth, yes, brands should try to experiment with new platforms, but again, not at the expense of missing out on audience reach. Try social video options you haven't before, but accept the fact that you may need to stop using some platforms if they don't resonate with your audience.

2. Keep in Mind Your Brand's Tone/Voice

While picking your audience's favorite social video hangouts may have narrowed your field some, you also need to make sure those platforms can support your brand's unique voice, attitude, tone, style, or whatever else you prefer to call it. If you can't recreate brand image on a social video site or app, it may be best to avoid spending marketing efforts on that specific platform.

For example, let's say your brand is aimed at a millennial audience, and your marketing takes a decidedly more "adult" approach in that you assume they're educated, professional, and savvy. In this case, Snapchat may not be the best use of your time (as of February 2016, 60% of that app's U.S. users are reportedly under the age of 24). You might find success on Facebook, however, as about 30% of that video platform's users skew older at 25-34, and your brand's voice will more easily speak to and reach those users.

3. Consider the Type of Content Your Brand Best Produces

This should seem like a logical way to guide your brand's social video efforts, but in many cases, it's a guideline that's neglected in exchange for following the newest, shiny platform and all the "perks" it offers. Brands often feel compelled to try out the latest social video platform just to see if they can make something succeed, while their forte (whether it be video advertising, short films, live streaming, or other types of content) takes a backseat. Unfortunately, this approach will end up slowing down your process of building expertise and a following on a social platform which enhances your best content.

As I mentioned before, there's nothing inherently wrong with experimenting with new platforms. In fact, I encourage it, but only to the point where you start seeing quick returns or none at all. Otherwise, keep focusing efforts on platforms you have or are finding success on, which also fit with your brand's preferred type of content. For example, if you're mainly producing how-to videos for your product, it makes more sense to post these on YouTube or Facebook as opposed to Vimeo. Such videos could even be cut into smaller chunks and posted in parts on Vine (like Lowe's #FixinSix campaign), Instagram, and Snapchat.

Following these three principles, you should be able to select one or even a few social video platforms which will result in maximum returns for your marketing efforts. Of course, unknown variables will always come into play, and your social video may not work out as expected. Just remember the world of online video is still young, and many of your competitors may not even be using social video yet. Just keep experimenting, find your brand's top social video platforms, and enjoy the rewards of your efforts.