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.

VIEW VIDEO: What the Ofcom’s stats on booming video means for public sector comms

You’ll not be surprised that video consumption boomed during the pandemic but the data behind the headline does surprise.

Overall, video consumption soared by 47 minutes a day for adults in 2020 reaching a rather significant five hours 40 minutes of screentime.

However, the headline figures only take you through part of the story. What’s particularly interesting is the demographic breakdown of age groups.

As a communicator, its hugely important to know the age of your audience as this may significantly skew the way you need to think about reaching them.

Because I love you, I’ve gone through the Ofcom Media Nations 2021 report to look at age ranges for the UK. If you are from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland there are supporting reports with a bit more local colour.

Glancing through all of them, there aren’t huge difference between the Home nations.

Here’s how people spent that five hours 40 minutes a day.

Live TV (162 minutes) accounted for most with streaming video sites like Netflix (65 minutes) and YouTube (41 minutes) supporting.

Trends are accelerating

Things are getting faster and video is hoovering up people’s time.

“The pandemic caused an acceleration of existing viewing trends as people spent more time watching on-demand services.”

– Ofcom Media Nations, 2021

Aside from the overall boom, subscription TV services are now used by 60 per cent of all UK households adding just over an hour to the telly. Terrestrial telly has proved resilient in 2020.

Half of UK households now use a smart speaker daily with two thirds using it to listen to streaming services and 39 per cent carrying out voice search.

Radio also remains resilient with live radio on a DAB device the most popular use (63 per cent) with podcasts flat at 15 per cent.

The boom in social video remains vibrant with 82 per cent of online adults – that’s almost nine out of 10 people who are web-connected – watching it at some point in the last 12-months.

Video booms amongst all age groups

Delving into the data, video is no longer the preserve of the young. While 97 per cent of under 24s watched some kind of social video in the last 12-months that’s to be expected.

More surprising is the older 24 to 34 group were only two per cent behind and ratcheting through the age groups almost three quarters of 55 to 64-year-olds watch. Just short of half of over 65s also have watched short video in the last 12-months.

But video has been consistently high performing over the past five years.

It’s something I’ve been flagging for a good five years.

Social audio

The hot topic of social audio is also showing up in the data.

The Clubhouse app which introduced the concept hasn’t cut through with only 0.3 per cent of the population using it by March 2021.

The report flags up audio for Twitter and Facebook as something to watch. That’s fine. I’ll wait to see them become a measurable thing.

What the public sector needs to know

Toto, we’re not in 1998 anymore.

The pace of change is ever changing and it’s never going to be this slow again. The trick is to evaluate the data before flying headlong into new trends but be across those trends.

Video remains increasingly important.

Telly and radio are in a slight decline but they remain a significant chunk of how people consume the media. For the most part, what’s happening on Netflix is irrelevant as far as the public sector is concerned. But radio, that Cinderella platform, remains a thing.

I help train communications people in how to plan, shoot, edit and post effective video. You can see more here.

PRO VIDEO : How to get the most out of LinkedIn video

linkedin vid

At last, LinkedIn has joined the race to encourage people to consume video on the channel.

The long-predicted move sees the platform for professionals allow you to upload directly to the site.

How you can upload video to LinkedIn

Easy. You can do this by adding a video when you are adding an update from your own profile from a PC. There is a video button as part of the range of options. You can also shoot video from your phone or add a video from your camera roll.

linkedin video

At the moment, this is limited to updates in your own name. You can’t do this yet from the company page. For me, this isn’t a huge loss. People connect to people on LinkedIn and let’s face it, the company page is a pretty dull place.

So, cat memes on LinkedIn now is it?

What this does is add some extra dimension to the field. This is unlikely to see an explosion of cat memes on LinkedIn. This isn’t Facebook. But it does mean that when you are looking to communicate a new field has opened-up.

How you can use LinkedIn video

LinkedIn themselves have published a short guide to using video on their platform. This is going to be a bit trial and error, I suspect. You can read LinkedIn’s own advice here.

In short, LinkedIn think:

  • Something work related.
  • Less than five minutes in duration.
  • Tips, a talk or a how-to guide they are keen to share

Interestingly, they are after candid, not-overly produced and over-selling, too. This should pave the way for in-house video that doesn’t cost the earth.

At the moment, they don’t have a live broadcast functionality but I can see that changing.

Five ways to use LinkedIn video

Consultation. If the audience is more professional than other channels, that’s fine. This is where business people and others are. So if you need to get their feedback try here. A short video may work as part of the mix.

Recruitment. If your HR team are looking to recruit a short video may help.

How to guides. There are a range of things that professional people need. Advice on how to complete a planning application, take on an apprentice and many other things present themselves.

Professional opinion. Best practice guides or vlogging could lend itself well to the platform.

Experiment. The field is clear. Dip a toe in the water.

 

 

 

CONTENT TIPS: Six laws for content that works on the web… Ooo! Aaah! Wow! OMG! And I didn’t know that!

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Six laws for content that works on the web… Ooo! Aaah! Wow! OMG! And I didn’t know that!

Every day we read, write, be amazed, shout, laugh at and share content online.

We do it after we wake-up, go to work, get to work and get home from work. The we do once we’ve kicked our shoes off.

Research would say we see 285 pieces of content every day. I’d say when I’ve got time on my hands it’s a lot more.

As communicators we are every day trying to compete with content that is shouting more loudly. Nobody is waiting for your press release. Or your video.

But how do you make yourself heard over the din?

I think it starts by looking at what works. What works for you? The meme? The 10-secondfd clip? The image? Think for a second.

It got me thinking how if I can catagorise the stuff I see that works. For me, it boils down to five words of phrases… Ooo! Aaah! Wow! Ha! And I didn’t know that!

Sometimes, if you are clever you can tick several of these boxes.

If you are not ticking any of them you need to think if that man in a suit against a wall for 20 minutes is going to fly. The chances are it won’t.

Ooo!

This is the spectacle. The arresting sight that makes you stop and stare.

Colourflow 3 #ColourflowProj #davidmcleod

A video posted by David McLeod (@david_mcleod) on Jan 4, 2016 at 1:58pm PST

Aaah!

This is the story of the dying dog’s last walk. Or the cute child. The thing that tugs on your heart strings.

Wow!

This is a spectacle. The sight that makes your jaw drop slightly.

 

OMG!

This is the one that makes you stop and plays on your fears. Like the RNLI breath test produced to try and persuade people not to swim out-of-their-depth in the sea.

Ha!

This is the funny one. The one that makes you want to laugh and share it with your friends so they can laugh too.

I didn’t know that!

This is the helpful one. The YouTube clip of the Indian student telling you how to fit a new cricket bat grip or the American showing you how to change a tyre. You look it up to help you. You’re amazed at how easy it is to follow and how complex the written instructions sound.

So, if your content isn’t any of those, should it be content at all?

Picture credit: Andrea Levers / Flickr

LIKE WTF: “A like’s a like… never fall in love with a liker.”

This cropped up as a Facebook memory thing this morning. It’s brilliant.

Take a look at it here:

“She took a screenshot of his snapchat and he tried to deny it, he said I didnae like her instagram, I just liked her facebook post that was a screengrab of her instagram, it wisnae her actual instagram.”

If you need to know how the youngstrells are communicating with each other, it’s marvellous.

By the way, this is a YouTube of the actual embedded Facebook. Not a screenshot of their instagram.

10 places to distribute your video to make it a success

5236263550_12bf640a5b_oYou’ve made a cracking video but you’re really not sure what to do next.

So what do you do?

For the past 12-months I’ve looked, made, researched and co-delivered workshops on essential video skills for comms.

As a comms person I’m convinced that video has a powerful role in creating engaging content. As I’ve said before, a large chunk of the internet is now video and that’s just going to grow.

The two things you need for engaging video

Think of Pearl & Dean. Think of sound and vision. It’s two things that go together. There’s a balancing act for creating successful video as part of a comms campaign. On the one hand you need good content. But on the other hand, good content that’s sat on your mobile phone isn’t going to reach anyone. So think about when and where you can post what you’ve made.

Live streaming is a bit different

Live streaming using Periscope, Meercat or Facebook Live is video. But this is video of the moment which is disposable. If the advantage is to be five yards away from the firefighter explaining the incident is now under control then it makes sense to use that. Speed and realtime point you to these platforms.

Don’t be blinded by numbers

Have a think about your audience. If you are keen to reach 16-year-old students about to decide which college to go to then your idea of success is not to chase Taylor Swift numbers. But if you’ve only reached a dozen then you may need to have a think about your distribution. In other words where people have the chance to see the video.

10 places where people can see your video

YouTube direct. This is the grand daddy of internet video. It’s used by more than a billion people a month. In the UK, more than 40 million people use the platform every month. Post your video to YouTube but keep it at around three minutes. Add tags and a good description so people will find it. Metadata is your friend. Optimum time: around three minutes.

Facebook direct. A new kid on the block compared to YouTube. At the moment, Facebook is rewarding you for adding video content to a page. It likes video because video keeps people interested, engaged and sharing. A hundred million hours of video is watched on Facebook every day. There is a battle going on between YouTube and Facebook but it’s worth posting video here too. Facebook can soar in the short run and is outperformed by YouTube in the long run. So think about posting to both. Optimum time: 21 seconds.

Twitter direct. Like Facebook, Twitter is liking that you post video direct to itself from the Twitter mobile app. But annoyingly, it’ll only let you upload a video from elsewhere if you are using an iphone.Optimum time: less than 30 seconds.

Instagram direct. There is a tendency for organisations to sit back and think that YouTube, Facebook or Twitter means the internet is covered. What hogswallop. If you know your audience you’ll have an idea which platforms they’ll be using. If instagram or snapchat is on their wavelength then think about how you’ll be using those channels first. By doing that you’ll have an understanding of what video may work.Optimum time: Instagram was up to 15 seconds maximum but now can be 60 seconds. Doesn’t mean you should use 60 seconds, mind.

Snapchat direct. Younger people are opting for snapchat. Again, disposability rules in the content. The platform now has 10 billion views a day. Organisations who are using it well have got to know snapchat first and make specialised content. It’s not a place to throw your three minute YouTube video.Optimum time: less than 10 seconds.

Email the link internally. Once you’ve posted the video cut and paste the URL and send it to people. Embed it in the weekly email. Or send it to the 10 people in the team you’ve featured. Invite them to share it and you can start to tap into your staff as advocates. YouTube links are good for this.

Embed in a webpage. It never fails to surprise me that video carefully shot and posted onto social channels then never makes the webpage. If you look after a museum, embed the video onto the right webpage so when visitors come they’ll have more than just the opening times to look at.

A staff meeting or event. You have an audience of people corralled into a room. Of course you should show them the film you’ve made.

A link attached to a press release. If you’re sending out a press release it is becoming increasingly important to add a video or an image to it to register an interest with a reporter. Even if it’s a short video it’s worth doing.

Target influencers. If the blogger, the reporter or the big cheese are people you’d like to see the video don’t hope that somehow they’ll pick up on it. Email them direct. Tweet them direct. Tap them on the shoulder. “I’ve got this video that I think you’ll like.”

On a welcome screen on a loop. If you have a reception or a place where people gather show the video on a loop. You may want to screen it with the sound off if you’ve only got 30 seconds of good footage. Think about silent film techniques and sub-titles.

To learn more about planning, editing, shooting and posting video using a smartphone come to a comms2point0 essential video skills workshop.

Dan Slee is co-creator of comms2point0.

VIDEO CONTENT: A cute baby will beat a man in a suit everytime

Often, when I’m helping deliver video skills training I’ll show a video towards the start.

It’s a video that I’ve taken from Facebook that I’ve not gone looking for. It’s found me. Someone has shared it and after autoplaying I’ve got distracted looking at it.

So, here is one that stopped me in my tracks just this week. So, here is one that stopped me in my tracks just this week. .So, here is one that stopped me in my tracks just this week. You can watch it here:

It’s a video of a Chinese-looking baby laughing at a man counting notes. The man pretends to spit on his hand. The baby chuckles. It makes me beam. It’s not long. I could watch it over and over.

Why do I show it?

To show that this is what we are up against competing for our attention.

Statista calculates that 32 million people use Facebook in the UK in 2016. As they scroll through their timeline they are usually not looking for content. It finds us, shared by a friend or a page we follow. The most arresting content is cute, funny and short. It can be the puppies having a bath. It could be cats. It could be something comic.

Now look at your organisations YouTube channel to get a flavour of the type of video they post.

Chances are you’ll find a man in a suit stood against a wall in the classic frightened bunny firing squad pose. There’ll be a couple of dozen views. At most. As a video, it has failed.

Here is breaking news. The world has too many videos with important people in them sagainst walls. 

Think of what people are watching. Put yourself in their shoes. If your next video is short, cute, witty or informative you stand a chance of getting people’s attention.

If it’s none of these nobody online cares.

A cute baby v a man against a wall? The cute baby wins hands down.

Isn’t it time you re-thought your next video?

Essential Video Skills for Comms workshops are staged across the UK. For more information click here.

HERE NOW: video is not the future, it’s the now

18446561558_269901d6cb_bThe title I was given for the session ‘video: it’s the future’ made me think. It’s actually already here.

It’s been clear for some time that video has been getting more important.

These aren’t bold predictions from industry analysts that may or may not come off. They’re the here and now.

The four reasons for video’s rise

What has convinced me is first anecdotal data of travelling on buses and trains watching people with their mobile phones. Where once they read newspapers now they are on their phones swiping through emails, websites and social media. People’s smartphones have got more powerful. They can watch and shoot their own video. Behemoths like Facebook and Twitter fall over themselves to make video more accessible in your timeline. Besides, we are inherently lazy. We are drawn to images.

The data makes the case

All that is true and where it is confirmed is the data. Ofcom say that 66 per cent of UK adults have a smartphone and almost half are happy to watch short form video. That’s footage less than five minutes.  TV is still here. So is TV news. But in the battle for your attention it is getting out-gunned by the clip of a new-born panda. No wonder BBC journalists are being taught how to make more short-form content.

People want to learn

It’s been an amazing experience co-delivering video skills for comms workshops with Steven Davies. People do want to learn and with a few basics they are off making good use of video. The barrier? Often it is the tech and time. An android or an apple device will cut it. A blackberry won’t. As you practice more the quicker you get at thinking through, creating, editing and delivering video.

But where does video go?

Convention has it that YouTube is the only show in town. That’s not the case anymore. Facebook at the moment is rewarding you for uploading video to a page by showing it to more people.  Twitter joined Facebook in autoplaying video as you scroll through your timeline. It’s made it easier to post video from your phone. But the idea of making one video and posting it everywhere is dangerous. The optimum time for a Facebook video is 22 seconds and on YouTube far longer. Vine is six seconds and Instagram not much more than 10 seconds. What counts as a view is opaque. On Facebook it is three seconds and YouTube 30 seconds.

The what is next?

We’re moving as fast as the tech is moving. A few years ago watching video on your phone would have been unimaginable. Today? It’s common. Two important steps are realtime and what can be grouped together as virtual reality.

Realtime is the posting video as live. Your smartphone becomes an outside broadcasting truck and as the super-portable clip onto yourself GoPro cameras are now integrated with livestreaming Twitter app Periscope the climber livestreaming his ascent up the north face of the Eiger is now possible. Even with a smartphone you can post within minutes an Environment Agency officer talking during the floods of how the Morpeth dam was working:

 

Virtual reality is something I’ve blogged about before. It’s watching footage that sees you standing in the scene and allows you to look down and around. New York Times are pioneering new ways of storytelling.

Facebook’s 360 video allows you to watch footage on your smartphone and move it around to see a different perspective. Footage of US fighter pilots taking off show this. YouTube has also allowed a 360 video and Flickr has done something similar.

But the tech

A few years ago virtual reality could be said to be a niche. Now a Google cardboard headset costs a tenner and allows a more immersive experience. But you can watch just with your tablet or smartphone. It’s not strictly the same experience but you get a flavour.

Two helpful things

We’ve created an ever-updated resource for video and comms. You can see it here.

We also co-deliver workshops for comms people with University lecturer Steven Davies who has worked as a cameraman with BBC and as a filmmaker across the public sector.

15 predictions for public sector comms in 2016… and one for 2020

3747527884_81f7e9d19a_zThe best political reporters don’t make predictions, Judi Kantor once said.

So, seeing as I’m not a political reporter for the last few years I’ve made predictions about what may happen in my corner of the internet.

Looking forward, 2016 will be my seventh year of blogging, my 23rd year in and around the media industry and fourth year in business. I’m struck by the pace of change getting faster not slower. It’s also getting harder.

Last year I made predictions for local government comms that both came true and failed. Ones I got right? Some councils no longer have a meaningful comms function. Evaluation become a case of do or die. People who bang the table and say ‘no’ to stupid requests will stand a chance. Those who don’t won’t. There are fewer press releases. Video did get more important. Customer services, social media and comms need to become best friends. Facebook pages did become less relevant unless supported by a budget for ads. Linked

I was wrong about some things. There was experimentation with social media and new platforms like Instagram, whatsapp and snapchat were experimented with. Not nearly as much as people need to.

The jury is out on content being more fractured. There are still too many central corporate accounts and not enough devolved. I’m still not sure that enough people are closing failing social media accounts.

Public sector comms in 2016…

For the last few years I’ve looked at social media in local government. But the barrier between digital and traditional has blurred and the barrier between sectors also blurs so I’ve widened it out.

The flat white economy will form part of the future. Economist Douglas McWilliams gave the tag to web-savvy freelancers and start-ups with laptops. To get things done in 2016, teams buying in time and skills for one-off projects will become more common.

There will be more freelancers. There’s not enough jobs to go around and more people will start to freelance project to project. Some will be good and some bad.

Video continues to grow massively. For a chunk of the year I talked about Cisco estimating that 70 per cent of the web would be video by 2017. By the end of the year some commentators said that figure had already been reached. People are consuming short-form video voraciously. But can you make something that can compete with cute puppies?

LinkedIn will be the single most useful channel for comms people. Twitter is great. But the convergence of job hunting, shop window and useful content will push LinkedIn ahead.

Successful teams will have broken down the digital – traditional divide. They’ll plan something that picks the best channels and not have a shiny social add-on right at the end.

Say hello to VR video. By the end of 2015, the New York Times VR – or virtual reality – videos broke new ground. These are immersive films viewed through a smartphone and Google cardboard sets. By the end of the year the public sector will start experimenting.

The most sensible phrase in 2016 will be: ‘if it’s not hitting a business objective we’re not doing it and the chief exec agrees with us.’ Teams of 20 have become teams of eight. You MUST have the conversation that says you can’t deliver what you did. It’s not weakness. It’s common sense. Make them listen. Or block off three months at a time TBC to have that stroke.

‘Nice to have’ becomes ‘used to have’ for more people. As cuts continue and widen more pain will be felt by more. Some people don’t know what’s coming down the track.

People will realise their internal comms are poor when it is too late.  Usually at a time when their own jobs have been put at risk.

Email marketing rises. More people will realise the slightly unglamorous attraction of email marketing. Skills in this area will be valued.

As resources across some organisations become thinner the chances of a fowl-up that will cost people lives increase. It probably won’t be a one-off incident but a pattern of isolated incidents uncovered much later. The kick-back when this does emerge will be immense. For organisations who have cut, when this emerges the comms team will be swamped. At this point the lack of functioning comms team will become an issue and the pedulum may swing back towards having an effective team. For organisations who have retained a team, this will be a moment to prove their worth.

Comms and PR continue to become female. A trend in 2015 was the all-female team. This will eventually percolate upwards towards leadership.

Comms and PR will get younger. Newsrooms when they lost senior staff replaced them with younger people. This trend will continue to be replicated.

As the pace of change continues training and peer-to-peer training will never be more important. Teams that survive will be teams that invest in their staff. And encourage staff to share things they are good at.

Speclaist generalists will continue to be prized. That’s the person who can be really, really good at one thing and okay to good at lots of others.

And a prediction for 2020

Those people with a willingness to learn new skills and experiment will still have a job in 2020. Those that won’t probably will be doing something else. Don’t let that be you.

Creative commons credit: https://flic.kr/p/6Ha4tJ

VIDEO SKILLS: For video, is it Facebook or YouTube or both?

12965332783_46d685a137_zSo, where do you stand? Are you in the blue corner or the red?

There’s a punch-up going on between Facebook and YouTube and the winner gets the crown of King of Video.

When you consider that almost 70 per cent of the web is going to be video by 2017 that’s actually some crown to be fighting over.

If you are even half way interested in digital communications then it is something you need to know about. Why? Because making the right decision can make or break your video.

Technology has improved and smartphones have got more powerful. You can now watch – and shoot – video on an iphone or an android device. Facebook has encouraged people, brands and organisations to upload direct to it with the carrot of its audience.

Ofcom stats reveal that in the UK 66 per cent of adults have a smartphone in their pocket. Of these, 42 per cent watch short clips over 21 per cent TV shows. So, in short, we’re rather keen on snacking on video content.

The game significantly changed when Facebook as the world’s largest social media site has thrown its clout behind video. Inspired by a Harry Potter film they invented auto-opening videos as you scroll through your timeline. It’s also a path that Twitter have gone down with videos uploaded through twitter.com.

YouTube and those who have developed channels there have not reacted well to the challenge. One vlogger Hank Green accused Facebook of ‘lies, cheating and theft’ claiming it of being slow to take down pirated content and counting a view at just five seconds as opposed to 30 seconds on YouTube. As with anything with the social web, it’s hard to piece together exact stats.

Be the blue corner and the red corner 

For me, it’s less Facebook or YouTube but rather the both of them.

YouTube remains huge. It’s the second largest search engine in the world with three billion searches a month. So it makes sense to upload content there. But Facebook is also huge. In the UK more than 30 million people have accounts and globally, it’s now running at four billion video views a month.

Erin Griffith in her ‘Fortune’ piece ‘How Facebook’s Video Traffic Explosion is Shaking Up the advertising world’ runs through the scientific arguments. You should read it. Facebook has become a place where its worth uploading video directly, she says. In February 2015, 70 per cent of uploads were direct to Facebook – almost three times the number within 12-months.

Why? Griffin says that video is a way to breathe life into your Facebook page. The secretive Facebook algorithm, she says, will show around four per cent of followers your text update, 14 per cent your picture and up to 35 per cent your video. So, video it is.

A thousand different versions of the same video

But armed with Facebook’s pile of user data is where it can get really interesting. The story of car maker Lexus making1,000 different versions of the same content and used Facebook’s demographics to distribute them is mind-blowing. So a male tech-loving car enthusiast saw a different version to the female from Chicago who loves travel.

Anecdotally, Facebook video outscores YouTube for views. In my own stream, a highlights video released when England cricketer Jimmy Anderson became leading wicket taker nets 47,000 on YouTube and 177,000 on Facebook, for example. Elsewhere, that broad trend is being talked about.

Facebook also does better than YouTube in keeping and holding the viewers’ attention. Almost 60 per cent will ‘complete’ a video. This is almost twice that of YouTube. However, videos posted to Facebook tend to be shorter at 44 seconds.

Facebook for trending and YouTube for the long haul 

If it’s trending then Facebook video stats do well. But as that fades the only place to find it and where search engines send you is YouTube. So for my  money, do both.

Brian Shin CEO Visible Measures describes it:

“If something is hot and of the moment, such as a newly released campaign, the Super Bowl, or even a cultural phenomenon like Fifty Shades of Grey, Facebook and similar social media sites are incredibly effective for driving the spread of timely content due to the trending nature of the newsfeed. But the strength of Facebook to promote trending content also highlights how powerful YouTube remains as a platform for continued viewership.

“If social media platforms like Facebook want to be longer term video alternatives to YouTube, they will need to amp up video discovery and search options within their sites. Because, at this point, the more removed something is from being ‘hot’ the more often YouTube is the only way to find the video.”

The clear trend is for video to be around and growing. Many comms teams have been caught out and are flat-footed by the gear shift. But video represents a brilliant way to engage with an audience via a Facebook page and via people who are happy to consume content on a smartphone.

Dan Slee is co-creator of comms2point0.

Picture credit.

  • By public demand we’re running a new round of Essential Video Skills for Comms workshops with Steven Davies. We are in Cardiff on November 12, London on November 26 and Birmingham on January 28. For more information and to book click here. 
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