LONG READ: Now half of all time spent on Facebook is spent on video… so what are you going to do about it?

Five years ago I came across a stat that changed the direction of whast I do… that 70 per cent of the internet would be video by 2017.

I looked at the data and I looked at the skills that comms people have and saw the gap and saw the need for bespoke training for comms people to plan, shoot, edit and post to the web using a smartphone.

By 2019, in the UK Ofcom confirmed that it was.

By 2021, that pace of change is accelerating.

I’m pleased to say working with filmmaker Julia Higginbottom over the past few months I’ve rebooted the Essential Video Skills for Comms workshop to deliver it online. You can find out more here.

But rather than just blog about the exciting new workshop I’ve been quietly beta testing I want to blog about where video is in 2021 and why these skills matter.

Firstly, two big announcements.

Half of Facebook is now video

For public sector people, Facebook is now the key primary route to reach peiople aged 30 to 70. In the UK more than 40 million people use the platform and two thirds use community Facebook groups.

It is the Parish pump, the local noticeboard and the place to learn, ask and check in with friends and family.

So, the news from Mark Zuckerburg in a conference call to Facebook investors that Facebook users now spend half their time consuming video is now deeply significant.

The direction of travel from a couple of years ago has become faster.

Video, in particular, is becoming the primary way that people use our products and express themselves. Now I know this is a theme that we’ve been talking about for a few years now, but we’ve been executing on this for a while, and video has steadily become more important in our product. Video now accounts for almost half of all-time spent on Facebook and Reels is already the largest contributor to engagement growth on Instagram.

Mark Zuckerburg, earnings call transcript to Facebook investors, July 2021

To put that clearly, if half the time people spend on Facebook is video, you need to be factoring in video content for Facebook.

Instagram is becoming a video platform

Follow that up with the news that Instagram is moving away from the still picture to become a video network.

Video is driving an immense amount of growth online for all the major platforms right now and its one I think we need to lean into more… I want to start by saying we are no longer a photo sharing app. The number one reason people say they use Instagram is to be entertained so people are looking to us for that. We’re trying to lean into that trend into entertainment and into video. Because, lets be honest, there;’s some really serious competition right now. TikTok is huge, YouTube is even bigger. We’ll be experimenting with how to embrace video more broadly.

Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, June 2021

You can see the full clip here:

From Zuckerburgh’s comments and those of Mosseri, a key direction Instagram will take will be its TikTok take off Reels. These are portrait videos that may now be full screen as they are on TikTok.

Right now, I’m not so convinced that Reels are a competitor to TikTok. They haven’t really developed their own sense of spece and innovation but it’ll be fun to see.

And TikTok

I’m spending more and more time in my downtime on TikTok. I’ve blogged before that I think that the platform is moving away from it being a platform just for under 24s and into a space where older demographics and brands are.

Not just that, TikTok have been also being busy wooing small business too. It’s not the global brands like Adidas that TikTok are after. It’s business with a more local reach, too.

While the Facebook ad-engine is undoubtedly more powerful and able to reach more segmented people there’s a sense that TikTok is making strides in that area.

And the UK data supports video as a booming channel

I know what you are thinking. All these big picture trends are all well and good. Right now my chief executive / councillor / Minister just wants a poster / tweet / Facebook update. That’s fine. But I firmly believe that its the job of comms to understand the trends and educate the client. A comms person in 2008 who just wrote press releases was an asset. They have long been a dinosaur.

The good news is that the Ofcom UK data support these global tectonic shifts. In Ofcom’s 2021 Online Nations report, 97 per cent of internet users had used video. Under 24s spent on average an hour and 16 minutes a day on YouTube with the figure for all over 18s being 35 minutes.

Daily users of social video are also significant. Almost three quarters of under 24s fall into this bracket. The figure remains high with 45 to 54-year-olds with almost a third watching on a daily basis.

Arghh! Public sector video? Where do I start?

Research, experiment and learn. Have a good planning process to work out if its a video you need at all and then a swift workflow. You’ll need big ticket expertise for that really important film to showcase your town to new investors. But you’ll also need video skills across the team to shoot the Mayor / Councillor / Minister / Leader’s response to breaking news or a Punjabi doctor speaking in Punjabi to other Punjabi speakers.

I’ve helped train more than 3,000 people in person over the last five years but I wanted to wait to get the online delivery right before letting you know about it. After trials and working with Julia I think we’re there.

For more information about ESSENTIAL VIDEO SKILLS FOR COMMS REBOOTED head here or drop me a note via the web form.

Picture credit: istock.

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