Video killed the text star


As professional communicators, we recently wrote about our dismay over the slow erosion of the relevance of the period. Imagine the depression that set into our office when we read Slate’s take on the impending wholesale disappearance of text from social media(!).

In his piece regarding the steady march towards video-centric channels, Will Oremus cites both Facebook and Twitter as establishing algorithms and policies that, if not favor, certainly encourage the increased usage of video content, noting a Facebook executive as having recently said, “that she believes the news feed in five years will be all mobile, and ‘probably all video,’” and that “already the company is seeing ‘a year-on-year decline of text.’”

As Oremus highlights, you can see the two social behemoths actively nudging their users towards video through Facebook’s live video and 360-degree video features and Twitter’s Vine acquisition and Periscope launch. He intimates that this move is likely driven by – what else – money, writing “mobile video is where the ad money is going.”

So if this is where we’re all heading, what do we do about it? In a world where Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and even LinkedIn are all actively pushing video content, what is required for a video to “break through”?

  • More than ever before, it’s imperative to be very clear about your intended audience. While “going viral” is almost always a hope when creating video, you’re practically more likely to hit the Mega Millions, so you need to make sure that what you’re creating speaks to the audience you are most interested in reaching.
  • Know what you want your audience to do after watching. According to Oremus, Snapchat now boasts 7 billion video views per day, but is simply viewing your video going to be enough? The answer may be yes if it’s instructional in nature, but even then, you may be hoping that people share that content with their own audiences to increase exposure to your message. Make sure your video prompts some type of action – bonus points if it’s an action you can track – and ensure your own digital platform gives them a place to come back to for more information.
  • Be open to new ideas on how to present your content. Today’s trends will be over tomorrow, so don’t just find someone who can recreate something you like today, if you aren’t an expert at creating video content, find a partner you trust and think creatively about how best to construct your narrative, tell your story or present your point of view. Things to consider: opportunities to embrace humor, ways to be counter-intuitive and, if we look to Facebook’s 360-degree video for a hint, chances for your audience to actually interact with your video content.
  • Keep it brief. ‘Nuff said.
  • Develop a proactive amplification plan so you can be sure you’re not the only one sharing your brand new video. Make it easy for allies and supporters to post the video by providing template content for social channels. As much as possible, focus on allies and supporters with significant social followings to maximize your amplification efforts.
  • Don’t underestimate a minimal investment in promotion on social. Video ads perform very well on social channels, and with a well-targeted ad buy, you can increase exposure of your message to new audiences in a way that is clearly quantifiable.
  • Timing is everything. While it may be impossible to catch lightning in a bottle, try to avoid publishing your content in competition with breaking news, or at times when no one is watching.

The big takeaway: if you’re not sharing video, pretty soon, you won’t be in the news feed. So it is time to hit record and tell your story. Because ultimately, the written word’s slow disappearance from social channels only serves to raise the stakes on getting video content just right.