Did you see the 2016 movie, The Magnificent Seven, which was a remake of the 1960 western of the same name, which in turn was a re-imagination of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai? Well, in all three movies, the hero carefully selects a small band of seven good guys to take on a small army of bad guys. And, each of these good guys is distinctly different from the other members of this group. Well, that’s what I’ve been doing since returning from the VidCon 2017 Industry Track. I’ve been carefully collecting the strategic insights, critical data, tactical advice, and trends in the digital video marketing business that I can share with video marketers to help them in the battles they face in the near future. And I want to tell the story in a way that helps them to understand that the social video market is segmented, not fragmented. Here, then, is my take on The Significant Seven social video platforms that should play a role in your upcoming plans.

YouTube is Still the Leader of the Pack

Although it faces serious challengers, YouTube is still the leader of the group. In my analogy, YouTube is like the bounty hunter, Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), the veteran Cajun gunslinger, Chris Adams (Yul Brynner), or the aging but experienced rōnin, Kambei Shimada (Takashi Shimura).

I’ve already told you about the top takeaway from #VidCon 2017 Industry Track: 1.5 billion logged-in viewers visit YouTube every single month. And I’ve also mentioned that, on average, YouTube viewers spend over an hour a day watching videos on mobile devices alone. But, Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, made five other announcements during her keynote conversation with Rhett & Link. They included:

  • Making it a whole lot easier for users to share their favorite YouTube videos with friends: Last year, YouTube announced a new sharing feature that lets users share videos right from the YouTube app. Shortly, it will be available in Latin America and then throughout the U.S. soon after that.
  • A new look for YouTube’s app and desktop site: YouTube wants to make sure that it provides the best experience when it comes to creating and watching videos. Perhaps the social video platform’s most important job is to show off your videos in the best possible way, no matter what format you choose to shoot them in. (It shouldn’t really matter if they’re vertical or horizontal, shot on a mobile phone or DSLR, or square, 4:3, or 16:9.) In a few weeks, the YouTube mobile app will dynamically adapt to whatever size users choose to watch it in. That means if they’re watching a vertical, square, or horizontal video, the YouTube player will seamlessly adapt itself, filling the screen exactly the way it should. YouTube also wants things to look just as good on a user’s desktop, too. In May, the social video platform opened up a preview of its new desktop experience. The new design is clean and has new features, including a Dark Theme that gives videos more of a cinematic look.
  • Making VR more accessible and more affordable for viewers and creators: Currently, filming 360-degree VR videos isn’t easy for most creators and some VR cameras are expensive. So, YouTube and Daydream have worked together to develop a new format, VR180, and new cameras, which make it easier and more affordable to make VR videos. This new format delivers 3-D video while capturing a 180-degree view. Now, creators only have to worry about recording what’s in front of them while viewers will get an immersive experience with a VR headset, or a video that looks just as great on a phone as any other video. In addition, YouTube is working with camera manufacturers like LG, Yi and Lenovo to build new VR180 cameras for as little as a couple hundred dollars, which is comparable to what you’d pay for a point-and-shoot camera.
  • Ten more markets for YouTube TV: At VidCon, Wojcicki announced that YouTube TV will be expanding to 10 more markets, including: Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, D.C., Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne and Charlotte. She added, “We see more Millennials using YouTube TV than any other generational group.” So, with this latest expansion, millions more Millennials will be able to stream their favorite live sports and must-see shows from top broadcast and cable networks.
  • A new slate of YouTube Red Originals: To date, YouTube has launched 37 original series and movies on YouTube Red, and they’ve generated close to 250 million views. YouTube is working with its partners to help them create incredible content that delights their fans. At VidCon, Rhett & Link shared details on 12 new projects coming to YouTube Red. Here’s the preview:

So, YouTube didn’t ride into town on a one-trick pony. Yes, some speakers in the 2017 VidCon Industry Track said YouTube has its faults and foibles – particularly its penchant for making algorithm changes without announcing them. And the social video platform can do always a better job of communicating with creators, advertisers, and the press – especially during and after a crisis like the recent YouTube ad boycott and the “Adpocalypse” that followed. But, no one questioned YouTube’s leadership in the industry. And that’s a significant story worth retelling your co-workers, clients, or colleagues around the campfire this summer.

Facebook is Second-in-command

If YouTube is still the leader of the group, then Facebook is the second-in-command. In my analogy, that makes Facebook like the gambler, Joshua Faraday (Chris Pratt), the drifter, Vin Tanner (Steve McQueen), or the skilled archer, Gorōbei Katayama (Yoshio Inaba).

I’ve already told you about one of the top three takeaways from #VidCon 2017 Industry Track the announcement of Facebook’s new creators’ app. This was showcased in sessions entitled, “The Future of Facebook Video” and “Fireside Chat with Fidji Simo of Facebook.” In addition to speakers from Facebook, there were sessions like “Hacking the Facebook Algorithm: Inside Facebook’s Secret Promotional Code,” which featured Gavin McGarry, the President and CEO of JumpWire Media.

And shortly after VidCon, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the Facebook community is now officially 2 billion people! And Facebook videos now play with the sound on automatically.

So, being second-in-command might turn out to be a groovy position. But, unless I’ve missed an update, only 500 million people are watching Facebook videos. And it’s still too early to tell how many people will mute their phone or turn off sound in their app settings. As for creators, many are still waiting for Facebook to start sharing a standard percentage of its ad revenue with more than a small number of creators who’ve been cherry-picked from the YouTube Partner Program. That’s why Facebook is second-in-command, not the co-star.

Instagram is the #3 Social Video Platform

If anyone wondered what was going to happen after Twitter shuttered Vine last October, the wondering is over. Facebook’s Instagram has emerged as the #3 social video platform. In my analogy, Instagram is like the very religious tracker and mountain man, Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), the professional in need of money, Bernardo O’Reilly (Charles Bronson), or kinda, sorta like Kambei’s old friend and former lieutenant, Shichirōji (Daisuke Katō).

In any event, Kevin Systrom, the CEO and Co-Founder of Instagram, had a “fireside chat” with Mike Issac, a reporter at The New York Times, on Thursday afternoon, June 22, and Jason Williams, who handles Strategic Partnerships and Emerging Talent at Instagram, spoke about “How to Master Your Instagram Strategy” on Friday morning, June 23.

Back in April of this year, the social platform announced that its community had grown to more than 700 million Instagrammers. Now, many of these people are sharing photos, but a growing number of videos are also being uploaded to Instagram. And with the announcements earlier this year of live video on Instagram Stories, the option to save your live video to your phone at the end of a broadcast, and the option to share a replay of your live video to Instagram Stories, Instagram has diversified its repertoire.

Has Anyone Seen Twitter Lately?

Speaking of Twitter, the online news and social networking service had a community stage in the Community Track, which was hold on the first floor of the Anaheim Convention Center. But, I didn’t see or hear any speakers from the company from during the two days that I attended the 2017 VidCon Industry Track, which was held on the third floor.

In my analogy, Twitter was like the former Confederate soldier and sharpshooter who is haunted by his past, Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), the traumatized veteran, Lee (Robert Vaughn), or the serious, stone-faced samurai and a supremely skilled swordsman, Kyūzō (Seiji Miyaguchi).

In other words, Twitter is still a serious, skilled player in the social video ecosystem. But, it is acting haunted or traumatized and appears to have lost its nerve for battle. Hey, this character added some dramatic moments in the three films that I’ve been talking about, but it would have been nice to have seen and heard someone from Twitter talking about the platform in the 2017 VidCon Industry Track.

Musical.ly is Stealing the Show

While Twitter was conspicuously absent, the relative newcomer that caught everyone’s attention was musical.ly. In my analogy, musical.ly is like the exiled Comanche warrior, Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), the young, hot-blooded shootist Chico (Horst Buchholz), or the humorous character, Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune).

Now, if you haven’t checked it out yet, musical.ly is an app for video creation, messaging, and live broadcasting. Launched in August 2014, musical.ly lets users create 15-second to 1 minute videos and choose sound tracks to accompany them, use different speed options (time-lapse, slow, normal, fast, and epic), and add pre-set filters and effects. The app also allows users to browse popular “musers,” content, trending songs and sounds and hashtags.

In less than three years, musical.ly has become the world’s fastest growing entertainment social network for creating, sharing and discovering short videos. Every day, millions of people use the platform to express their creativity with videos that are shared across the musical.ly community. With over 200 million users, musical.ly has hit #1 in the iOS app store for free apps in 20 countries – including the United States.

During the 2017 VidCon Industry Track, Alex Hofmann, the President North America for musical.ly, was interviewed by Phillip Picardi, the Digital Editorial Director for Teen Vogue and Allure, during a “fireside chat.” They also discussed live.ly, the breakout livestreaming platform, which provides the musical.ly community with a broader canvas to share and engage with one another. Immediately following its official launch at last year’s VidCon, live.ly began trending and hit the number one spot in 8 countries in the iOS app store.

They then invited Baby Ariel (Ariel Martin), the popular musical.ly personality who has  over 20 million followers  and The German twins, Lisa and Lena (Lisa and Lena Mantler), who also have over 20 million fans on Musical.ly, to talk about the app – and show the audience how easy it was to make a new video. All I can say is: Generation Z stole the show.

Verizon Plays a Surprisingly Big Role 

There were two industry keynotes at this year’s VidCon. One featured Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube. The other featured Marni Walden, the Executive Vice President and President of Media and Telematics at Verizon. Yes, Verizon Communications, the telecommunications conglomerate that started life in 1984 as Bell Atlantic.

In my analogy, Verizon is kinda, sorta like the Mexican outlaw who has been on the run for several months, Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), the fortune seeker, Harry Luck (Brad Dexter), or the amiable though less-skilled fighter, Heihachi Hayashida (Minoru Chiaki).

Why did Walden merit such a surprisingly big role? Well, she is responsible for integrating, scaling, and growing Verizon’s portfolio of new businesses in digital media and telematics. In her keynote, Marni and her team talked about Verizon’s vision for its growing digital media business, including AwesomenessTV, Oath (which includes the Yahoo! and AOL brands), Fios, Complex, and go90. That’s why she merited an industry keynote.

Twitch plays a Relatively Small Role

Finally, Twitch, the live streaming video platform that’s now a subsidiary of Amazon.com, played a relatively small role during last month’s Industry Track at VidCon. To conclude my analogy, Twitch was kinda, sorta like the Korean immigrant and assassin who utilizes knives, Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), the knife expert, Britt (James Coburn), or the young untested warrior, Katsushirō Okamoto (Isao Kimura).

Now, there was a session entitled, “The Stars of Twitch,” in the Community Track. And there was a session in the Creators Track entitled, “Twitch Fireside with Marcus ‘djWHEAT’ Graham.” But, the only executive from the company who spoke in the Industry Track was Justin Dellario, the Director of Esports Programs at Twitch. He appeared on a panel about “The Future of Esports: How Online Video Impacts Competitive Gaming.” Of course, if you’re from Twitch, that’s the panel you’d want to be on.

Social Video: Segmented, Not Fragmented

So, as you prepare for the battles you face in the near future, you should recognize that each of The Significant Seven social video platforms has a different personality, so each one should play a different role in your upcoming plans. Even if you have a great creative idea, you can’t repurpose the same video format across the entire social video ecosystem because one size does not fit all. In other words, the social video market is segmented, not fragmented. And not everyone understands the importance of this fact.

Where was Snapchat?

Now, I can hear at least a couple of video marketers asking themselves, “Where was Snapchat?” Well, there were sessions in the Community Track entitled, “Stars of Snapchat,” and “Lights, Camera, Snap.” There were sessions in the Creators Track entitled, “Making a Snapsterpiece: How to Utilize Snapchat Tools to Create Art,” and “How to Get the Most Out of Snapchat.”  And there was a session in the Industry Track entitled, “Creating a Successful Snapchat Series.” But, none of these sessions featured a speaker from Snap Inc.

Now, the quiet period after Snap Inc.’s IPO ended back in late March. So, if one of the company’s executives had wanted to speak, I’m fairly confident that he or she would have been able to swing an invitation. But, to my knowledge, none of the Snap executives headquartered over in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles made it to Anaheim, CA, to participate in the VidCon Industry Track. Hey, I totally get it. Los Angeles is the world’s most traffic clogged city. Besides, I like my Significant Seven analogy, so I’m glad that I didn’t have to write a column about the Big Eight.