2017 threatens to be the biggest year for video yet. At the end of 2016 many were trying to guess what video platform might lead the way this year. Will it be one of the established platforms, a new social media or, will an existing platform transform itself?
WILL YOUTUBE OR FACEBOOK PREVAIL IN THE VIDEO WAR IN 2017?
It is difficult to know, but it is a solid bet that the two biggest video sharing social media platforms will continue to push, and develop, their video offering.
Many have long heralded the end of YouTube as the most popular video platform, citing Facebook as now the champion of online video. It is true that Facebook has become more video based. Even just as a very (very) casual user, I’ve noticed more friends uploading videos. With an approx. 1.7bn users, there is a potentially huge audience for any video posted. Facebook themselves were promoting their reach, saying that they could specifically target the audience a marketer wanted to reach due to their analytics – and because people share so much personal data on the platform.
PROBLEMS FOR FACEBOOK
However, in the second half of last year it was found that Facebook had inflated the level of its users’ time commitment to video. Industry experts predicted that it had been inflated by approx. 60-80%. For those brands that had heavily invested their video efforts in Facebook, this was something of a shock.
This isn’t to say that brands are going to turn their backs on Facebook as a video platform. However, it probably gave many pause for thought and cause to review their use of YouTube. Especially when you consider just some of the following stats:
- YouTube is the second largest search engine, behind only Google
- 56 countries post content in a total of 61 languages
- More than one billion unique users visit the website every month
- 100 hours of video is uploaded every minute
- Six billion hours of video are watched every month
- 25% of global views are from mobile devices
While there are some massive figures mentioned in those stats, I think it is the first stat which stands out. Internet users, worldwide, are using YouTube to find ‘things’. Whether that is answers to a problem, information on a certain topic or advice – whatever it is, they are using YouTube to supply the answer.
THE USE OF YOUTUBE AS A SEARCH ENGINE
It this that marks YouTube apart from Facebook. Yes, with Facebook there is a targeting aspect that YouTube cannot supply but users are yet to use Facebook as a search function. This means if you want people to ‘find’ your videos and by virtue, you, then it is YouTube that you need to use.
Both websites are also investing heavily in live video streaming. As early as March last year, Facebook Product Manager Vibhi Kant was quoted as saying, “…Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are live, compared to after they are no longer live.”
But, interestingly, Business Insider reported (from July 2016) that ‘data from Tubular Labs, a video-intelligence-software company that tracks activity from Facebook Pages, shows that while live-video views are steadily increasing, the number of streams and the number of accounts making them haven’t seen the same spike.’
This means that those ‘doing’ live video are increasing their output but not many new people are joining in. Why? Well, there are a few theories but the one that has the most supporters is that, unlike filmed video, it can be tricky to be interesting in live video.
Firstly, whatever your live video is about, it should be interesting enough to engage viewers on content alone – without necessitating their input. If your topic will only work provided viewers leave comments and questions, then the immediate concern will be whether it will receive enough comments/questions so that it is a success.
Of course, if people do start to leave their thoughts and questions then this will only help the video – especially if it is possible to reply to them during the video itself. Interviews, talks and alike all have the possibility of answering viewer’s comments, in a real-time environment.
And, in fact, it appears Facebook are aware of this as they are now paying certain organisations to create live video content for them. This is a move away from just letting the users create it and then simply selling ads for revenue. The type of content Facebook are paying for creation, and therefore presumably what they feel lends itself best to this medium, are interviews, talks, panel Q&A’s etc.
Where video goes this year, brands will follow – of that I am certain. It has proven itself to be too much of a powerful medium to be ignored, or only partially employed. Where Facebook and YouTube take video, both live and non-live, is still debatable, but it will be interesting to watch these two giants go head to head.