If the year-end #YouTubeRewind video proves anything, 2015 was “the year of social video.” Nothing indicates that trend will slow down in the New Year. In fact, experts predict video will play a more “‘remarkable role in how audiences engage online,” and emerge as “the dominant medium on the internet” – more prevalent than text or pictures in the year ahead.
“The barriers that existed as little as five years ago have all but disappeared as equipment has become both more powerful and affordable,” reasoned Brendan Reilly, Video Services Director at March Communications. “The investment in these tools and resources is a no-brainer for most organizations, who now have the ability to produce high-quality, cinematic video content for very low budgets and tell compelling stories.”
So brand ambassadors, content marketing firms and digital journalists take note. What follows will have a direct impact on your budgets and strategies in 2016.
Earlier this year, scientists determined that human beings can hardly hold a thought longer than eight-seconds. That’s a shorter attention span than goldfish.
This demands “shorter, tight videos.” “Everyday social video consumption will speed up,” said Croi McNamara, Head of Video at Upworthy. “Think 15- to-30 seconds each versus current times of 30-seconds to three-minutes.”
McNamara noted that social videos will become more utility and empathy-focused.
“When it comes to video, think of the ‘inverted pyramid’ method of newswriting,” said Stephanie McCratic, founder and CEO of Acorn: An Influence Company. Her influencer marketing agency has worked with brands such as Walmart, SC Johnson, and Pampers. “The vast majority of viewers won’t make it to the end, so the call-to-action needs to be near the beginning.”
“Successful videos must add value to a consumer’s life,” she continued. “That’s why YouTube videos work so well, because people in thse videos are quirky, a little self-deprecating and helpful. It’s how consumers are learning to cook new recipes, contour their makeup and discover the latest music video.”
YouTube offers an exception to the rule that brevity is the soul of wit.
“Holistically, the number of hours people spend watching videos on YouTube has increased by 60-percent year over year,” noted Tim Bradley, Manager of Video Services at Matter Communications. “For mobile YouTube audiences, the average viewing session is now greater than 40-minutes.”
The video-sharing website will likely grow more addicting as YouTube launches new tools (similar to those driving Facebook’s feed), designed to cater to a person’s video consumption patterns. It apparently reaches more viewers in the coveted 18- to 49-year-old category than any cable network in the country.
Bradley also pointed out weather impacts viewing habits. Audiences stick around longer during cold weather outbreaks. They watch six times more video content on mobile devices when temperatures warm up.
“Content consumption on mobile devices is growing exponentially and will continue to do so in 2016,” said Reilly. “Brands that can offer engaging viewing experiences will see their content marketing campaigns extend well beyond those still relying on people’s willingness to read 800-word blog posts on a smartphone screen.”
“Mobile video should be the biggest consideration for online communications,” added Bradley.
Every day, adults in the United States watch one-hour and 16-minutes of video on mobile devices.
Vertical video will become more widely accepted across social media channels in 2016.
“It’s already the norm on Snapchat,” said Jenn Deering Davis, Editor-in-Chief at Union Metrics, a San Francisco-based social analytics company. “Most of us use our phones in vertical mode by default, and it’s simply easier to shoot quick videos vertically [rather than] horizontally.”
According to Davis, Snapchat—known for its ‘self-destructing’ messages—gets more than six billion video views a day. It will likely be the platform of choice for Millennials during the 2016 election, said McNamara.
Not Really Going Anywhere Yet
Don’t expect video streaming services like Periscope and Meerkat to take off in the next year. Although YouTube and Facebook are investing in similar capabilities, experts aren’t convinced it will go mainstream.
“The biggest problem with livestreaming is that most of us just aren’t that interesting,” said Davis.
Those connected with celebrities, sports and entertainment figures are best positioned to do well with livestreaming, she said.
Also, despite all the recent buzz, virtual reality is not expected to go very far in 2016. It will likely need more time to develop. Still, Facebook has been rolling out “video centric” 360-degree videos from such brands as GoPro and Disney. McNamara predicted 50-percent of consumers will have tried it on Facebook by this time next year.
Ultimately, video will move from a “nice-to-have” category to a “must-have” in 2016. Producers must snag the viewer’s attention in the first eight-seconds. Depending on the platform (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, YouTube), a video may run as long as 45-minutes or a short as 15-seconds. Know your audience. A “one-size fits all” approach simply will not cut it.
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Wes Benter is a senior online community services specialist at ProfNet, a service that connects journalists with expert sources. He previously worked as a creative producer for PR Newswire’s MultiVu. Prior to that, Wes worked on-air as a reporter and weather anchor for network affiliates in the Midwest. Learn more by following him on Twitter @WBenter.