Why it’s really (REALLY) time to think about video on social media differently.

Over the past few years, video has increasingly gained a foothold in the social media space — this is nothing new. One could argue that YouTube has been the social video powerhouse for over a decade, however now that mobile-first mentalities and higher network bandwidths are giving video a viable stage for the spotlight.

We’ve all seen it. We scroll down our feeds, and suddenly an unsolicited video automatically plays — left to our mercy to unmute — recommended by friends or from brands I follow. As the months pass, more videos surface between friends and family’s posts, ironically less from friends and family. In addition to brands moving videos onto these channels, those wildly popular meme-like catchy videos (that have long been successful on YouTube and Vine) have flooded the space.

Many marketers have speculated that Facebook is taking preference to organic video posts, in hopes to chip away at YouTube market share. I’ve also seen video performance far outshine other post types in paid awareness social campaigns across channels. Additionally, gone are the days where professional production houses have the market cornered on video creation. Influencers and independent shops with increasingly affordable technology have proven that great video doesn’t have to break the budget. These reasons alone could by why marketers are flocking to the format.

I’ll use this as a forum to state that a 30-second commercial doesn’t make for great social posts — what’s the dialogue you want to create? It’s also important to note that videos should always take shape of the audience and your role of the specific social channels — and also takes into consideration variables such as attention spans, audio and length. Could a two-minute video be cut into different versions to apply across Facebook, Twitter, Vine and Tumblr? Potentially, but would each of these vastly different audiences care about the same message? The landscape is becoming increasingly complex, and these questions are warranted.

So what does this mean as we look forward?

Will videos overcrowd our feeds (and ultimately our patience)? I’m sure it’s a possibility. We use the term “thumb-stopping,” but what does that really mean in a crowded video space? This medium is becoming gradually dynamic, and won’t necessarily map back to how we’ve always consumed it.

Here are four potential opportunities making headway:

  • 360° Video (Facebook, YouTube): Filmed with a camera system that records all 360 degrees of a scene around the camera, viewers have the ability to pan around the video and watch the video from any angle they choose. Here’s an article on how several brands are using this technology.
  • Livestreaming (Facebook, Periscope, Meerkat, UStream, Livestream): Livestreaming has been in the mix for quite some time, but many haven’t considered it social media. Livestreaming allows users to be part of an event, an unveiling, a Q&A or demonstration, without the big production costs (a laptop with a camera, or just a cell phone). Though there are mainstream networks on the landscape currently, Facebook is quickly allowing verified users to broadcast live on the channel.
  • Immersive Ads (Facebook — and still in infancy): If you’ve seen Facebook’s new Instant Articles feature, this is similar — although an instant, rich way of interacting with promotional content — allowing users to engage with individual pieces and videos within the experience.
  • Virtual Reality (on the distant horizon — but on the horizon): With Facebook purchasing Oculus, an up-and-coming VR company, it’s without saying the company is trying to figure out how virtual reality fits as a social experience. It’s worth asking the questions now if VR has a place within the digital ecosystem.

Remember, video is great and should be leveraged. Think about what your target will genuinely be interested in, and the conversation you want to create. In an increasingly crowded space, simple video syndication from a YouTube channel is no longer the norm. With different ways to use video, it’s time to think about this content form differently, and it’s important to ensure a long-term vision for how video fits within your brand’s social ecosystem.

How are you leveraging video as part of your brand strategy? I’m looking forward to revisiting this post in a few months with new updates and technologies dotting the landscape!