Choosing the right video platform for your campaign

In today’s busy media environment, video is still one of the most powerful and popular mediums for promoting your content and products. Videos are engaging, easily shareable, and seemingly designed for the web.  

Up until a few years ago, the digital video market was arguably completely oversaturated by a wide variety of platforms. YouTube was already establishing its dominance, but the previous diversity of the visual media environment problematised many attempts at successful video campaigns online.

Today, things are different. There are only a few video platforms out there, and these have survived primarily because of having the resources and mindsets flexible enough to adapt quickly to an increasingly social Internet. The narrowing of this market has in part been further stimulated by the monopolisation of social media by platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others.

With only a few giants left competing for viewers’ attention, the video platform you choose for your campaign arguably isn’t as important today as, say, well-managed social media output on the platforms you distribute this video content on. However, today’s video platforms are social networks in their own right, and making the appropriate choice involves an understanding of the audiences, past successes, and best practice for each.

What to look for

The key requirements for a video platform broadly relate to analytics, curation, and distribution. These include things content management, analytics, lead generation, and ROI tracking, as well as social media integration, viewing behaviour, and most importantly, audience. In other words, video platforms need to be assessed based on what they offer not just your marketing or content campaign, but also your potential viewers. With all this in mind, let’s take a look at three of the main social video platforms today.

YouTube

Summary: As the biggest video sharing platform on the planet (with over 3 billion views per day), YouTube is an obvious first choice for content creators and marketing departments alike. It offers a range of comprehensive analytics tools as default. However, the platform’s video market is oversaturated to say the least, and most videos published on YouTube will struggle with longevity.

Audience and viewing habits: YouTube is exceptionally popular across different age ranges, with 81% of U.S. millennials and 58% of Generation Xers claiming to use the site regularly. In recent years, the platform is becoming increasing consumed over mobile (more than 50% of watch time and growing), and as a result, users are spending more and more time watching and browsing video content (an average of 40 minutes). The vast majority of these videos come from either Youtube recommendations or users’ favourite channels.

Instagram

Summary: Instagram has only recently become an important platform in terms of video, but with new 1-minute video limits and a young, rapidly growing audience, the app represents fresh, fertile ground to anyone looking to launch a campaign on a shoestring thanks to its plentiful tags and optimised content algorithms – so much so that it’s popularly considered as the king of social engagement.

Audience and viewing habits: 2014 research found that top brands’ Instagram posts generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21% - and while this hasn’t lifted in years since, Instagram remains the most powerful means of engaging your market. That could be thanks to what Forrester.com calls its “low-clutter, brand-friendly environment”, which generates a per-follower engagement rate for big brands that is 58 times higher than the same posts on Facebook. Getting content right for the platform’s format is key, and with new video length limits, there’s more options than ever.

Facebook

Summary: Facebook might not immediately be thought of as a social video platform, but video is actually more important than ever to brands looking to engage the site’s users – to the point where “native Facebook videos get more reach than any other type of post.” This is in part aided by the platform’s promoting of subtitle or text-based videos, which enable users to view and engage with video content while scrolling past without having to turn up the audio.

Audience and viewing habits: Despite being denounced as “just for old people”, Facebook is still the world’s biggest social network and continues to increase its dominance over our daily lives. Videos are generally promoted more than photos (27% vs 17%) and have a greater organic reach (8.7% versus 3.7% for photos and 5.3-5.8~% for links and status updates). Pros of Facebook include the ability to ‘pin’ videos to the top of a page, meticulously well-targeted video content, and concise, high quality video will pay off (look at Instagram for inspiration).