A Guide to Social Video

Article ImageBelieve it or not, YouTube celebrated its 10th birthday on Feb. 14, 2015. The Google-owned online video site has grown immensely since its debut; the visual content platform currently sees more than 300 hours (or 12 1/2 days' worth) of video uploaded per minute. Despite its popularity, YouTube is by no means the only platform or service on the market for brands looking to use social video.

For many companies, "social video" is an enigmatic content format. However, Tania Yuki, founder and CEO of the social media marketing and analytics company Shareablee, believes brands simply need to look at social video as "designed to be consumed within ephemeral environments-easy to consume, fast to the point, involving some spectacle that makes it worth stopping what you're doing, and enjoying a brief immersive video experience." This definition separates social video from more evergreen formats, such as films or interviews.

As previously mentioned, brands looking to step up their social video presence in 2015 and beyond have plenty of tools and services to choose from. For starters, companies can hardly go wrong posting video to Facebook. The Mark Zuckerberg-founded com-?pany aggressively pursued native video in 2014; now the site boasts 3 billion views per day via videos uploaded directly to the social platform from marketers, brands, and users. Brands looking for lots of video views and shares should default to creating social video for Facebook.

Alternatively, companies can now upload clips directly to Twitter. The platform introduced its own native video player in late 2014 and a video capture tool for its mobile app in January 2015. Twitter video is best used for brands interested in sharing relatively short clips of up to 30 seconds. Quite appropriately, this length is useful for playing video ads.

If brands want to make a big impact with shorter content, they can now choose from platforms such as Vine (owned by Twitter), Instagram (owned by Facebook), and Snapchat. Vine limits videos to 6 seconds, but this time restriction tends to force brands to be more innovative and to the point with their Vine content than on other platforms (check out Lowe's #LowesFixInSix campaign). Instagram boasts a massive userbase (300 million, as of December 2014), which means brands looking to reach more people should consider making social video for this platform. Finally, Snapchat allows companies to share short videos that generate buzz around a particular initiative before the videos disappear from the platform entirely.

No matter which platform or service a brand chooses for social video, it's important to create content that's as compelling as possible. Yuki notes that an average brand posts 25 pieces of content per week and that not all consumers are on social media as long as a brand might assume. "The average person is on Facebook just 12 minutes each day, according to comScore," she explains. Therefore, brand content needs "to hold its own in this competitive environment."

Additionally, brands need to know what kind and format of content perform best on the various social video platforms. Yuki believes the key to brands' social video success is paying attention to what's working (and what's not). "The content has to match the medium and has to understand the lens and environment in which it is going to be consumed," she says. "If it jars in any way or seems too polished, it often is disregarded. The human mind always looks for what doesn't fit, and we reject it."

Yuki adds that visual content "can't merely be repurposed" from another video project by the same brand; the original format may not perform well on social media. For example, an adult beverage company would be hard-pressed to figure out how to reduce a 30-second video ad to make it fit into Vine's 6-second time limit. The brand would be better off making a brand-new, shorter clip based on the ad's initial concept.

Once companies are able to grasp these social video creation and distribution basics, they'll have a much easier time getting started producing video content. And while social video takes extra time and effort up front to ensure brands use it properly, Yuki believes the companies that make this investment will be rewarded accordingly with consumer appreciation and support. ?"Competition for attention has never been greater across social environments, and video is by far the most effective way to request a moment of people's time in exchange for delivering something of value," she says. "Brands who can be storytellers will be highly rewarded with attention, loyalty, and sharing." 

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)