Social Enterprise

Skip Youtube and go straight to social: What brands should know about native video on social media

Social media platforms are constantly trying to keep users engaged, particularly with autoplay. Here are a few things brands should know about producing video content for social.

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Videos are ubiquitous on social media. They get liked, shared, and passed around — that is, if they're good — and sometimes just scrolled past.

While YouTube has been the place to go for internet video, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are chipping away at that title.

In September, Facebook released numbers on its blog detailing monster growth in video: since June they reported an average of one billion video views on Facebook every day. Of those views, 65% come from mobile.

The announcement came a year after Facebook rolled out the autoplay function on videos from individuals, musicians, and bands, with plans to bring that capabilities to marketers. By December 2013, Facebook started letting a small number of advertisers use the format — videos that auto play without sound until tapped.

"Over time it has become a key part of their newsfeed algorithm, which means that videos hosted on Facebook display more often and higher in the newsfeed than any third party video host (YouTube and the like included)," said Jamil Velji of Vantage Analytics.

There are many folks who still upload videos to YouTube and post the link to social, and the impact of native video on them is becoming more clear.

For Adam Schleichkorn, a maker of viral videos with more than 20,000 subscribers, whose Muppets/Beastie Boys mashup even made Time.com, the shift to native took a huge bite out of his viewership.

"I was doing this full-time for years, until the dreaded algorithm change a few years ago, which destroyed mid-range partners," he said.

He had no choice but to move on. Schleichkorn is now the head of the video department for digital ad/marketing agency Driven Local on Long Island.

Twitter is making another move in the direction of video by launching autoplay video, Adweek reported earlier this month.

In a way, this won't be Twitter's first foray into video. The company did buy Vine in 2012 and more recently SnappyTV, a tool for video editing and sharing.

What this move boils down to, in part, is an effort by Facebook and Twitter to keep people on their platforms.

"Sites like Twitter and Facebook are offering native video so they can gain market share for video advertising, which is extremely lucrative," said Jason Parks, owner of digital marketing agency The Media Captain.

Velji thinks this idea is even more important for Twitter.

"Twitter on the other hand has had the problem of users clicking out to other sites since inception," he said. "With the slow of Twitter's growth and the number of active users declining, the move to native video is an effort to try to contain users within the Twitter environment for that little bit longer."

For brands that are investing resources in producing video for social media campaigns, it's important to figure out where to put those videos in the first place.

Marketers in the digital video space make several recommendations for what they should keep in mind. For one, it's important to remember that the first few seconds of a video that's intended to live on a social platform will be crucial.

While brands will be able to upload videos up to 10 minutes in length, it's really the first few seconds that matter. The challenge will be to stop someone mid-scroll and get them to click on the video.

Piece of planning and tracking should be metrics.

One of social media's chief lessons is to be able to have metrics and understand them in order to track whether or not a certain effort is helping the brand reach its business goals. In a world with terms like clicks and views, it's important to know how each platform defines those terms. For example, Facebook's metrics for views tell users how many times a video was viewed for three seconds or more. Facebook also provides graphs showing audience retention through the video.

"Know what analytics these sites offer before going in so you can accurately judge if your goals succeeded. If you can't measure results, you can't tell if you're using your marketing budget effectively," said Melinda Rainsberger, creative director at They're Using Tools, a firm that produces animation, motion graphics, and video.

Rainsberger also sees a benefit to using native video.

"Using these sites' native capabilities can making something feel more authentic or less formal. Since folks are usually on Facebook for casual reasons, this perception is important," she said.

She also said, though, that it's important when producing video content specifically for social, to match that conversational, less formal tone.

"The audience needs to feel like they're an audience of one," she said.

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About Erin Carson

Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.

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