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.

SURE SHOT: 5 videos that show that video is thriving as a comms channel

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Three years ago when we started to train people on how and when to use video for comms it felt like the early days.

The business case was there and the stats pointed clearly why it was a massively important comms channel. But examples were still thin on the ground. That’s all changed. There are more and more effective videos to be found.

Here are five that caught my eye over the last few months. Shot in-house. Engaging. Funny at times. Sad at others. This isn’t hard.

Being a real voice

Newcastle City Council are the Martin Scorcese of public sector video. They are sketching a new language on how to use the medium. They are letting real people speak. Sometimes those real people work for the council. Sometimes it has rough edges. But the rough edges make the content work.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FNewcastleCityCouncil%2Fvideos%2F10155081344978790%2F&show_text=1&width=560

Being a 360-degree Red Arrows watcher

I’ve long argued that content on social media shouldn’t always be call-to-action. It should be mixed. So, when the RAF’s Red Arrows came to town the day was a celebration. This 360 video catches the jets but so much more. It captures the crowd, the enthusiasm and the comms officer filming. But that’s fine. Good work Denbighshire Council.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fdenbighshirecountycouncil%2Fvideos%2F1592989687390081%2F&show_text=1&width=560

Being eye-catching with a dancing GIF

Bath and North East Somerset Council have been good at video for a while. When they delivered a wheelie bin they were surprised to see a mobile resident. Marvellously, they also turned it into a GIF.

Being creative with Superheroes

Video isn’t just point and film a vox pop. You can be creative too. Here Kent Fire and Rescue have a more polished video that tells a story. Firefighters are secret super heroes. But you can be too if you test your smoke alarm.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fkentfirerescue%2Fvideos%2F10154082530404520%2F&show_text=1&width=560

Being a teller of an emotional story

The daughter of a police officer killed while on duty came to Bedfordshire Police to be the Chief Constable for the day. It was about the force saying ‘thank you’ and showing what being a police officer involved. It is a mix of video, stills, text, music and it works beautifully.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fbedspolice%2Fvideos%2F10155283704926311%2F&show_text=1&width=560

Can I help?

Over the past two-and-a-half years I’ve helped train more than 1,000 comms, PR, marketing and frontline people in when and how to use video. This has been delivered together with Steven Davies. It’s something I’m massively proud of. Full disclaimer: we’ve trained people from Newcastle City Council, Bath and North East Somerset and Kent Fire and Rescue. 

You can find out more about our Essential Video Skills for Comms workshops here or shout me on Twitter @danslee and by email dan@comms2point0.co.uk. 

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