Building Success on Online Video Platforms
By Brett Snelgrove
Before I dive into discussing the various video platforms let me start by asking a couple of questions …
In the ever expanding world of online video, what is most important?
The Content? Audiences? Or the Platforms?
It’s all three of course. As an independent online video creator you have more opportunity than ever before to create your own success. You have a wealth of affordable content creation tools at your fingertips, direct access to audiences and more platforms than ever before to choose from.
So as a creator, what should you aspire to?
You should aspire to create great content that engages an audience and is tailored to a platform.
And how should you measure success?
Profile? Money? Opportunity?
These are all by-product of success. Succeed at building great content for an engaged audience that is tailored to a platform and profile, money, opportunity and more will follow.
With this in mind, let’s look at what video platforms are at your disposal and how you can use them to your advantage.
Video platforms can be broken down into five categories:
Micro, Social, Streaming, Private/Ephemeral and Mobile Live Streaming.
The key commonality between them is that almost all of them are free for creators and viewers to use. There are no gatekeepers standing in the way of creators accessing audiences and building a fan base on these platforms.
Micro Video Platforms: Short Self-Contained Compelling Creativity
Vine (6 seconds), Instagram Video (15 seconds), Twitter Video (30 seconds)
Avg. Video Length: Short
Primary Devices: Mobile, Tablets
Discoverability: Social Sharing, Engagement, Hashtags (+ for Vine: cross promotion and collaboration)
What distinguishes these platforms is not just their micro video length but the mountains of imagination that creators can jam into 6, 15 or 30 seconds. What makes a creator’s content stand out on these platforms is their ability to deliver a gag, a stunning visual, a mind-bending illusion, a piece of stop-motion animation or a well crafted message that is not only short but utterly captivating. Thanks to the micro format of these platforms the content is also very easy to consume, engage with and share. With the right hypnotically addictive or emotionally charged content, the looping feature of Vine and Instagram can easily have viewers captivated for four, five or six times the video’s length. This plus a consistent frequency of uploads and well curated Vine account can compound in a short amount of time the impression that your content, message or personal brand can have on viewers.
Social Video Platforms: Emotional Impact & Personal Identifiability
Avg. Video Length: Short to Medium
Primary Devices: Mobile, Tablets, Web
Discoverability: Social Sharing, Engagement
What drives discoverability on these platforms is people’s desire to share content that they strongly identify with or that emotionally resonates with them. As a result, trending topics or memes perform very well on social video platforms. With Twitter and Facebook it’s important to be aware that video content exists in a constantly moving mixed media feed of competing content. There is no easy way to discover older content on these platforms via search, profiles or playlists. Its all about the social currency that a piece of content generates during its viewing lifespan. If content really hits on one of these platforms it will often be highly visible for two to three weeks in your social feed thanks to engagement and sharing but then will quickly disappear afterwards. As a result content can have a very short lifespan so you have to maximise its potential to connect with fans while you can.
Streaming Video Platforms: Feature Rich Video Sharing Platforms
Avg. Video Length: Medium to Long
Primary Devices: Web, Mobile, Tablets
Discoverability: Search, Platform Recommendations (+ for YouTube & Dailymotion: cross promotion and collaboration)
YouTube is as deep as it is wide and as a result there is something for everyone on the platform. It is the second largest search engine in the world and so viewer lead discoverability is primarily driven by search and platform recommendations. Creator lead tactics such as social sharing, collaborations and cross-promotion plus formats such as tag videos, memes and reaction video are also excellent for audience building.
Unlike YouTube, which relies entirely on an algorithm for content discoverability and promotion, Dailymotion’s discoverability is primarily driven by their editorial team. Search and social sharing also plays a part but its the human factor that sets Dailymotion apart. Dailymotion also service a strong multi-lingual audience and they seek to offer the best content available in each territory.
For both YouTube and Dailymotion channels it is imperative that content be well optimised for search and audience engagement plus have a strong editorial strategy to convert new viewers into long lasting fans.
AOL on the other hand is a completely different beast. Their editorial team hand picks and curates content to appear on their video portal site AOL On and they also provide video content for a network of online publishers such as Huffington Post, Tech Crunch and StyleList. They are focused on specific demographics: 20 something university students, 30+ professionals and working parents. As a result, high quality topical and hyper relative content targeted at the range of categories they service is what works best for them.
Vimeo is known for being the home of videographers, filmmakers, designers, and animators — it’s a platform all about quality over quantity. They have strong in-house and volunteer editorial teams to spotlight content. They do not deliver advertising in and around their content like the other streaming platforms but they do have an VOD offering and are currently experimenting with a subscription model for premium content exclusive to the platform.
Private and Ephemeral Video Platforms: Fun Casual Sharing & Expression
Avg. Video Length: Short (10 seconds and ‘Stories’ expire after 24 hours)
Primary Devices: Mobile, Tablets
Discoverability: Contacts/Invite Only
Snapchat is not just for ‘sexting’. It is actually part of a larger online movement within the current 13–17 year old generation to find safe and private spaces online where they can chat, share and express themselves without fear of their content being seen or shared without their permission. Or worse, having their parents lurking on their account. Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and the Twitter’s Group Direct Messages are all catering to these young users and this growing market.
The benefit of Snapchat is that its ephemeral nature creates a sense of immediacy and intimacy plus its creative tools encourages a fun and casual freedom of expression. For video makers it offers an opportunity for creative and personal content to be shared with top fans and to create appointment viewing — exclusive content available only for a short window of time. Its also an incredibly simple platform to use that takes away the burden of production and editing and excels at one-to-one expression and communication.
Mobile Live Streaming Platforms: Ephemeral Live Events & Appointment Viewing
Avg. Video Length: Medium
Primary Devices: Mobile, Tablets
Discoverability: Social Sharing, Engagement, Hashtags
Periscope is Twitter’s own mobile video streaming platform while Meerkat is a third party app that utilises Twitter (and now other platforms) as its social platform that it sits on top of. Periscope streams are available for 24 hours after they’re finished but once a Meerkat stream is done it disappears instantly. Both are using the immediacy of social media to drive discoverability. In an age of search, catch up and always present content, Periscope and Meerkat are bringing back appointment viewing. You can use them to transport fans from all over the world to experience a moment in time with you. You can share something as intimate as a webcam style chat or something as big as a live music or sports event. They can also be used to report on current events or to simply share a unique view point — be it from the top of a mountain or being first in line at the H&M Black Friday sale.
So where does platforms like Vessel, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix and Yahoo fit into this discussion?
Firstly what distinguishes these platforms from the others is that they are subscription based services that commissions and curates premium content. As a result they control who can publish on their platforms and more importantly the access to their audience. Interestingly though, they are all actively involved in audience building by commissioning content from creators known for consistently making quality content and who command a sizeable fan base. Vessel is doing it with top YouTube talent whereas Amazon and Yahoo are tapping leading creators from traditional media.
So, what are the key take-aways for succeeding on these platforms?
.1. Make what you love and share what you are passionate about
.2. Make regular content for your fans that is sustainable for you to produce
.3. Develop your own style and niche
.4. Test and iterate to find what works for you, your audience and platform/s
.5. Grow your content alongside your audience, creativity, craft and ambition
.1. Nothing builds an audience better than regular content (regular content on average drives more viewership than advertising, promotion, press and blogs combined — people go to these platforms for content, so give it to them!)
.2. Collaborate with other creators and top influencers
.3. Interact and Engage with your audience
.4. Think about how you are going to engage your audience — are you going to be Entertaining, Educational or Inspiring? Is your content Sharable, Emotional, or Relatable? Are you using the power of Spectacle, Niches and Surprise? Are you taking the best advantage of Trending and Evergreen topics?
.1. Choose one or two primary platforms
.2. Choose platforms to Syndicate to
.3. Choose platforms to use for Audience Development
.4. Tailor your content to each platform
.5. Drive audiences back to your primary platform to consolidate your fan base
What is a primary platform? One that gives you the strongest opportunity for audience discoverability and reach plus content monetisation and protection. This is why BuzzMyVideos is working with YouTube, Dailymotion and AOL as primarily platforms plus exploring and evaluating opportunities on other platforms for our creators.