The folks at HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales platform, have just published their eighth annual State of Inbound Report. And the big news is buried on Page 44 of the 65-page long report: Inbound marketers see YouTube and Facebook video as the future of marketing! And this future also includes Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine!

Now, most video marketers will shrug their shoulders and say, “We’ve known that video is the future of marketing for years.” But, take a closer look and who HubSpot surveyed. They are marketers in B2B, B2C, small, and mid-sized businesses. Half of the companies represented generate under $1 million each year. And HubSpot was able to get 4,500 respondents from over 132 countries. So, this is a big freaking deal.

Video & Content Marketing

If video marketers aren’t familiar with the concept of inbound marketing, it’s a term that was coined back in 2005 by Brian Halligan, the CEO and co-founder of HubSpot. Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, Halligan says inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product. The concept started with blogging, which is why one of the questions that the 2016 State of Inbound Report asks is: “How long does it typically take you or someone in marketing to write a 500-word blog post?” (The answers range from under 1 hour to over 4 hours. More significantly, only 42% of blog posts are 500 words or less long. Another 42% are 501 to 1,000 words long. And some are 1,001 to 1,500 words long or longer.)

Unlike most YouTube creators or media companies, inbound marketers aren’t trying to build a large consumer audience that will be monetized by selling advertising to brands and agencies. According to HubSpot, inbound marketers are more likely to work for small businesses or B2B companies that deal with high dollar values, long research cycles and knowledge-based products. They are more interested in aligning the content they publish with their customer’s interests, attracting inbound traffic naturally that they can then convert, close, and delight over time.

And while inbound marketers may be late to the digital video dance, they have a very clear picture of what the future of marketing will look like. HubSpot asked them, “What content distribution channels do you plan to add to your marketing efforts in the next 12 months?” And 48% said YouTube, 39% said Facebook video, 33% said Instagram, 20% said messaging apps, 15% said podcasts, 13% said Snapchat, 8% said Medium, 5% said Slack, 5% said Vine, and 5% said other.

hubspot-graphic

According to the report, the biggest takeaway, is this: “Marketers are thinking hard about decentralized content. Many are experimenting with taking their content to new channels; this is a fairly new tactic that few have mastered, but many are working on.

In our survey, marketers clearly are accounting for video content’s rising popularity among global online browsers, with 48% planning on using YouTube and 39% looking to use Facebook video.

With such a large number of respondents, HubSpot can drill down into data and still get an accurate picture of what different segments think about the future of marketing. For example, inbound marketers in North America (NAM) are the least enthusiastic about video content, with only 35% saying they’ll use YouTube as a channel and 28% saying they’ll use Facebook video. By comparison, 56% of their counterparts Latin America (LATAM) say they’ll use YouTube and 50% say they’ll use Facebook video. When it come plans on leveraging YouTube and Facebook video in the future, inbound marketers in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), Southeast Asia (SEA), and Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) are somewhere in between.

Slicing the data another way, HubSpot reports that video dominates the agenda of C-level business leaders. By far, senior executives are embracing video content for their business, with 56% of C-levels planning to add YouTube as a content channel, 46% thinking about Facebook video, and 17% looking into Snapchat. It’s worth noting that YouTube and Facebook have spotted this trend in the digital video marketing business. Ironically, both video platforms have recently launched traditional outbound marketing efforts to reach innovative inbound marketers. (Double facepalm.)

For example, YouTube acquired Directr, a video editing startup, back in August 2014. The Directr for Business app was tailor made for marketers in small and mid-sized businesses with an iPhone. Among other things, the app featured a storyboard-driven creation process that provided novice video marketing teams the ideas, guidance, and tools they needed to create great HD videos with just their iPhones and share them instantly to their websites, blogs, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

Directr for Business included storyboards for:

  • Customer testimonials,
  • Product announcements,
  • How to tutorials,
  • Executive profile videos,
  • Event videos,
  • Social media tips, and
  • Press release supplements.

In June 2016, the Official YouTube Blog announced the launch of the YouTube Director suite of products. Although it is now spelled with “o”, YouTube Director for Business still provides shot-by-shot guidance – so inbound marketers can create a high-quality video ad for their business without needing extensive video editing experience. They can browse through more than 100 video templates designed for businesses like the five in this video, who YouTube challenged to create a video ad in 20 minutes or less.

The folks at YouTube also announced YouTube Director onsite, a service that will send a professional filmmaker to shoot and edit a video ad for free whenever a business spends at least $150 to advertise on YouTube. Currently, YouTube Director onsite is only available in six metro areas. But, it’s expected to roll out in more cities soon. Now, I’m not going to knock the app. It’s free. And it solves a real problem that faces many marketers in small and mid-sized businesses who are making a video for the first time. And I’ve got no problem with YouTube Director onsite. Requiring small and mid-sized businesses to spend $150 to advertise on YouTube seems very reasonable to me.

But, let me ask video marketers a couple of basic questions. First, “Did you know that the YouTube Director for Business app was available for the iPhone in the U.S. and Canada?” Second, “Were you aware that the YouTube Director onsite service is available in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.?” I’ll bet that most of you didn’t.

In other words, there’s nothing wrong with YouTube’s product or service. But, inbound marketers will be the first to tell you that one blog post does not constitute an inbound marketing campaign – even a blog post with an embedded video and a link to an associated web page. And the examples in the embedded video above seem fine – if you’re a business that’s already interested in buying a video ad. But, they don’t really resonate with inbound marketers who are planning to create quality content that pulls people toward their company and product.

Heck, the video above shows five businesses running that are using TrueView video ads to reach a local audience and increase awareness. Now, that’s a legitimate marketing goal. But, not one of these businesses seems interested in adding interactive elements – like cards, call-to-action overlays, shopping cards, and auto end screens – that could help them achieve other advertising goals, such as driving consideration, favorability, purchase intent, and sales. Hey, these are legitimate marketing goals, too.

Facebook Video & Marketing

Meanwhile, the folks over at Facebook are also working to help marketers in B2B, B2C, small, and mid-sized businesses small businesses create video ads. For example, the social network launched slideshow, a new type of lightweight video ad created from a series of still images, in October 2015. Slideshow uses video-like motion and no sound, giving inbound marketers a new way to tell their stories to people around the world. This solves two problems.

facebook-slideshow

First, the Slideshow tool makes it a lot easier to create video ads from still images. All marketers in small and mid-sized businesses need to do is upload three to seven still images – which can come from an existing video, a photo shoot, or even stock imagery from Facebook’s library. Then, they simply choose the length of their slideshow – which can be 5 to 15 seconds long. In other words, slideshow reduces the investment required to shoot and edit a video as well as the need for video production time and resources.

Second, a 15-second slideshow can be up to 5x smaller in file size than a video of the same length. This is especially important for inbound marketers are trying to reach people in emerging and high-growth countries, where connectivity and the prevalence of basic devices make it difficult to deliver video to their entire audience.

In August 2016, Facebook announced some new features for slideshow ads. This included the ability to add text and music, create slideshows from Android mobile devices, and use assets from Facebook’s stock image database and Pages Photo Library. In addition, Facebook launched a new tool that allows inbound marketers in emerging and high growth markets to take existing video assets and turn them into a slideshow that will play on slower connection speeds – in just a few clicks.

Were you already aware of this? Or, did you miss this news about advertising on Facebook? In other words, there’s nothing wrong with Facebook’s tool. But, inbound marketers will be the first to tell you that two posts on Facebook Pages don’t constitute an inbound marketing campaign – even these posts include images, videos, and links to related Facebook Pages. And the examples of companies using slideshow in posts include Coca-Cola in Kenya and Nigeria as well as Unilever’s Paddle Pop ice cream brand in Indonesia. Now, these are both great brands, but I wouldn’t describe them as small or mid-sized businesses.

So, if you work at a brand or agency that’s already interested in buying a video ad, then you might have stumbled over the news. But, if you’re and inbound marketer who is planning to create quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, you probably missed these announcements.

And, even if you didn’t miss these announcements, neither on mentions the fact that you can track website conversions – including checkouts, registrations, leads, key web page views, adds to cart, and purchases – after seeing your Facebook ad. All you need to do is add a snippet of code to the HTML on your website, and you’ll get reports when people see your ad and take action.

Why haven’t YouTube and Facebook connected the dots for inbound marketers? Maybe they’re optimized to use traditional outbound marketing to sell boatloads of advertising to a few big advertisers. But, if they want to solve problems for thousands of innovative inbound marketers, then they might want to practice a little inbound marketing themselves. According to HubSpot, “Inbound marketing is about using marketing to bring potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing efforts fight for their attention.” Hey, what a concept.