New approaches to video from four digital leaders
If you’ve been paying attention to recent media industry coverage, then you may have been distracted by all this chatter around Facebook Instant.
However, there’s also a much larger tectonic shift happening on the Facebook platform, one that’s not just impacting a tiny pilot group of elite publishers like the Instant experiment: Facebook is pushing video content like crazy.
There are two things going on here.
1) Facebook is favouring video uploaded through its native player
A Business Insider article claims the social network’s algorithm prioritises videos to make up 30% of the News Feed. And Facebook itself has shared that users are seeing 3.6 times more video compared with one year ago.
2) Publishers and brands are responding by uploading record amounts of video to Facebook, and getting record engagement.
Liam Corcoran at NewsWhip, a social analytics firm, told me that “average share rates on Facebook native videos are far higher than those of other types of Facebook posts, such as Links and Images.”
Corcoran took the example of BBC News’ Facebook page, where “average share rates per video were over four times higher than those for external links”.
But it’s not just Facebook
Facebook isn’t the only force impacting publishers’ video strategies: newer platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine are already the focus of much experimentation around new video formats. And of course there’s the continued growth in views and uploads on YouTube, which is still a vital platform for most media.
The one constant across all these platforms is the growing consumption of video on mobile — Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said 75% of the network’s 4 billion daily video views come from mobile devices.
In need of a better way
Therefore, the current state of video for publishers is this:
The distribution channels and consumption habits are evolving rapidly, and a new approach to video is required. One that caters to a mobile, social audience, and involves a healthy amount of experimentation around new formats and more efficient workflows.
I spoke to some global leaders in the space, to find out what they consider as the new approach to video. Here’s a selection of key quotes:
Jigar Mehta (@jigarmehta), Engagement Lead at AJ + (USA)
When we produce video for Facebook, we have to assume that the audience is going to be watching on their mobile phones with no sound, so we have to optimize video to tell the story with no sound.
On Facebook, we know that we are competing for time on a platform where content FOMO [fear of missing out] is rampant, so we strive to make our videos very engaging from the start, and not waste any time getting straight into the stories we tell.
We are always thinking about how we can get as much information across and tell the stories we need to tell in the shortest amount of time possible, while still being engaging.
Sven Christian (@sven_christian), Head of Video at Spiegel Online (Germany)
[Disclosure, Spiegel Online is a user of the wochit video creation platform]
Our emphasis is on scenes, sound bites, and atmospheres. We show, don’t tell!
So we use as little comment as possible, instead utilising bullet points to answer the basic questions: who does what where when and try to explain why.
Video has the power to transport information quicker and closer to the viewer than text. But text can explain things more deeply. Fortunately I work with fantastic writers: we can show, they can tell.
Matt Cooke (@mattcooke_uk), Head of News Lab at Google (UK)
Short form video lends itself to mobile devices, where people are either on the go or they’re looking for a short burst of knowledge or entertainment, They’re watched by people throughout the day whereas traditionally longer form content has always been viewed on a television and in the evenings. For creators this sets a challenge, how can they capture the attention of people during their busy day?
One thing I’ve personally noticed as a consumer is the depth of content around supposedly niche subjects and issues — there is now a place to find videos and stories about the things you care about.
Stefan Ploechinger (@ploechinger), Head of Digital at Suddeutsche Zeitung (Germany)
[Disclosure, Suddeutsche Zeitung is a user of the wochit video creation platform]
We don’t believe in the TV approach any more — web video works differently.
Our approach is to create video that is crisper, more playful, rougher, and with all sorts of visualisations.
What comes now?
Clearly there are some common trends here, with the emphasis on short form video that is highly engaging and full of striking visuals.
As publishers move away from the traditional TV approach to video, many have experimented with creative ways to inform and entertain through video. This will be the topic of my upcoming post: “Top publishers’ favorite formats for short form video.”
Until then, you can dive deeper into how four publishers are using Facebook for video in this earlier post for TheMediaBriefing from March 2015.