As video marketers, we tend to love data which shows that our market is very large – because far too many of the companies and clients that we work for are still trying to reach lots of eyeballs – just like they did a generation ago during the heyday of network television. Well, the branded social video market does reach a lot of eyeballs these days. But, we sell ourselves short if we don’t make the extra effort to explain to the aging Baby Boomers who run most of the companies and clients that we work for why the social video market isn’t a mile wide and an inch deep like network TV’s audience once was. (The prime time audience for network TV peaked back in 1978 – before, first, cable TV and, then, social video started reducing it to only half-a-mile wide and half-an-inch deep today.)

That’s why it’s useful to get our hands on independent data that shows just how diverse and complex the social video market has become even as it has grown larger. Yes, in the old days, you could run the same 30-spot on ABC, CBS, and NBC. But, these days, you need to tailor your video content and advertising for YouTube, Facebook, and other social video platforms. One-size does NOT fit all. That’s why repurposing your YouTube video on Facebook doesn’t work any better today than repurposing your 30-second TV spot on YouTube did a decade ago. The market that you’re trying to reach isn’t fragmented; it’s segmented.

Branded Social Video has an Impact on Consumers

That brings me to a new report entitled “The Science of Social Video: Turning Views into Value” that you should read before you pass the ammunition around to get ready for the next big battle to shift the social video paradigm. Now, I want you to know that I’m a skeptic – so I checked out the methodology for this research before summarizing it for you below. Here’s why I think that it’s well worth reading. Highlights of the report include the fact that:

  • Consumers spend around 6 hours per week watching video content on social media networks
  • 67% of respondents said that watch more video on social networks than they did a year ago
  • 46% of consumers said they’ve made a purchase as a result of watching a brand video on social media
  • 76% of people said they were more likely to watch a social video if recommended by friends or family

In September 2016, Brightcove commissioned a research firm, to interview 5,500 consumers aged 18 years old and over in five countries: Australia, France, Germany, the UK, and the US. The survey examined consumers’ changing social video engagement habits and preferences. The goal of the research was to find out how branded social video in particular is driving, or has the potential to drive, behaviors across the buying cycle. So, the people who conducted the survey are reputable and the research methodology is sound. What did it find?

For starters, the survey found that consumers are spending an average of six hours per week watching video content on social media networks alone. And 67% of respondents said they watch more video on social networks, like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, than they did a year ago – and 60%  expect the amount of social video they watch will continue rising over the next year.

Consumers told researchers that 50% of their social video views currently take place on YouTube, 36% on Facebook, and the remaining 14% is split over networks like Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. If this seems surprising, then it’s worth reminding ourselves that over a billion users watch YouTube videos, 500 million users watch Facebook videos, and many of the users of the other, smaller social media networks may be looking at photos instead of watching videos.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 56% watch music videos, 53% watch User Generated Content (UGC), and 52% watch film trailers, making these the most popular types of social video content. Asked how they discover video content, 62% of consumers said it was when they scrolled through newsfeeds, 49% said it was when it was shared by someone on their network, and 46% said it was when they actively looked for it.

More importantly, 74% of consumers said there was a connection between watching a video on social media and their purchasing decision-making process. In addition, 46% of consumers said they’ve actually made a purchase as a result of watching a brand video on social media, and another 32% said they’ve considered doing so.

Asked about the videos that successfully generated sales, 57% of respondents said that they had provided the right level of information on the brand or product in question. And 54% of consumers said the videos were relevant to their interests. In addition, 92% of consumers confirmed that they recognized when a brand video on social media was encouraging them to take an action like buying something.

After watching a video on social media, consumers said they will “like” it 47% of the time, share it 37% of the time, and click through for more information 33% of the time. Plus, 45% of people surveyed said they are more likely to tell friends and family about a brand after watching a good video by that brand on social media – and 76% of people said they were more likely to watch a social video if recommended by friends or family. So, what’s a great example of a social video? Well, here’s a clip that Food Network uploaded to Facebook on the 6th of January 2017. The clip was shown on the Food Network itself, but the native upload to the social network generated an extra (at time of writing) 49m views, and 1 million engagements.

This is why it is well worth while moving beyond metrics like impressions, gross rating points (GRPs), and eyeballs. Yes, these measure reach. But, none of these metrics measure the impact of a social video on the buying process. It reminds me of the old joke about the telemarketer who won an award for making the most calls. At the big sales meeting, the telemarketer says, “I could have made a few more, but some of the people I reached slowed me down by asking what I was selling.”

Brands Need a Multi-platform Video Strategy

So, why should video marketers compare how many people their video “reached” with the number of people that their company or client’s TV commercial reached? Reach? Screech! Video marketers can do better than that.

Finally, if you dig deeper, then you’ll discover that Brightcove’s report says, “Brands need to do more to ensure their videos stand out from the crowd. They need to deliver what consumers want through careful targeting, a tailored approach to each social network, and by paying attention to their audience’s ongoing preferences so they can monitor and adapt the video content they serve.” In other words, they need a multi-platform video strategy.

For example, Brightcove said YouTube’s audience type is more global in nature (88 countries and 76 languages) and the audience age is skewed towards the older millennial generation (25-34 years old). The report also said videos that were between 16 seconds and 2 minutes long had “53.8% of all YouTube views” and were among the most engaging. It noted that many of the most popular types of videos amongst consumers on YouTube are instructional in nature i.e. how-to videos. It said YouTube Is also well suited to longer-form content, presented in playlists. Finally, the report observed that more than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices.

By comparison, Brightcove said Facebook had “more traction with female viewers” and the platform’s audience not only includes the relatively young (18-29 year olds, followed by 30-49 years old), but also is the favorite network for older generations (50-64 year olds, followed by 65+ year olds). The report said the ideal video length on Facebook was 15 seconds (40% of a Facebook audience will watch until the end of a 1-16 second long Facebook video, but this drops to 18% for videos over 30 seconds). The report said that “Facebook is overwhelmingly personal and therefore great for engaging brand advocates” – so, content should be personal in nature, reflect a sense of community, use emotion, and tell local stories. Finally, the report observed that native Facebook video posts reach approximately 22% of Facebook fans, while embedded YouTube video posts reach only 13%.

In contrast, Brightcove said Twitter skews slightly more towards male users and its audience age is relatively young (18-29 year olds, followed by 30-49 years old). The maximum video length on Twitter is 140 seconds, however industry research has shown that 80% of users will only watch a full video if it is 30 seconds or less. Twitter is very well suited to awareness and engagement, meaning that brand video content that promotes and educates can do well. Finally, the report observed that Twitter favors native video (it drives 2.5 times more replies, 2.8 times more retweets, and 1.9 times more favorites than third-party players).

In other words, branded social video isn’t a fragmented market. It’s a segmented market. And video marketers who learn how to tailor content for each of these audiences and platforms can do much more than reach a ton of eyeballs. They can impact the consumer journey to online purchase in Australia, France, Germany, the UK, and the US – at a minimum. And that is the career path that video marketers will definitely want to be on.