Commentary

Is Social Video An Unstoppable Force?

As far back as 1979, a song released on Island Records announced that video had killed the radio star. And now, nearly 35 years later, it seems as if video is still stronger and more unbeatable than ever before.

The traditional advertising culture of the mid-20th century, where brands found consumers by broadcasting short, direct messages at them with little concern for detail, effect or response, was turned on its head by the Internet that paved the way for a‘search culture. For the first time people could do the searching, and physical boundaries or distance to store were negated. This same change led growing numbers of brands to create websites and early digital strategy.

The inevitable next step was the empowerment of the individual and the virulent growth of a social culture. This is an ecosystem that centers around personalization, relevance and community, principally based on the sharing of information and ideas, and where it is products that change in response to user need, not the other way around.

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Under these conditions, brands could no longer be dictators. They needed to retire to a more indirect place, be more inventive in their approach to customer interaction and provide useful and interesting content that dared to put the consumer’s needs ahead of their own. And they needed to do this 24/7, 365 on as many platforms as real people chose to use.

In spite of all this change, however, video as a medium has prevailed; in fact, it has gathered power. 

Video, as a method for recording live events, building imaginary worlds and facilitating all kinds of storytelling, is still by far and away the most effective and powerful way to make content that people enjoy and rely upon as one of their primary sources of news, information and escape (on a myriad of devices). But why?

The Web helped to transform video from a second-rate citizen (sleazy wedding videos, desperately dry corporate ones, educational videos) into a more significant tool that could enhance websites, explain complicated initiatives imaginatively and build aspirational worlds. By 2008/9, it had matured further still into one of the necessary pillars of e-commerce, with instructional how-to films reducing the need for experts in all manner of fields. And the viral came of age.

In 2013, social video has become the most powerful way to develop conversations throughout a brand’s digital ecosystem (across owned channels, social platforms and through satellite community and paid environments). We know that YouTube is now the planet’s second largest search engine and that video appears higher up in search results than other type of content. It’s the most shared asset on the Internet because of its ability to trigger an emotive physiological response.

A reduction in relative cost of production technology; the ubiquity of cameras; an increase in bandwidth and access; the proliferation of smartphones; more and easier-to-use self-publishing tools and social platforms – these have all fueled a perfect storm that has ignited the reincarnation of video.

Video is so many things to so many people. It is easy to use, to share, great to start a conversation about or to create a reaction -- a unique social currency of its own. It is still our favorite format for entertainment, from a night out at the cinema to a night in on the sofa.

Video is the support mechanism for many moments. It can be at the same time emotional and pragmatic, simple and complex, personal and mass. It has proven not to be diminished by scale and is now as commonplace on the bus and tube as the newspaper. In a multiscreen world, social video is king.
4 comments about "Is Social Video An Unstoppable Force?".
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  1. R Appe from Appe Media, October 2, 2013 at 3:13 p.m.

    Video is primarily entertainment. Not news. You are way off.

  2. Chris Verdugo from Contra Costa Television, October 2, 2013 at 3:30 p.m.

    R Appe: I'm not entertained when I view a video about social or economic injustice, war, or Mother Theresa. Maybe a primary desire for Youtube surfers is to be entertained, but a message or story is at the heart of every piece of communication.

    I've been involved with Community Access TV(aka PEG: Public, Education and Government Access) since 1982.
    I can attest to the power of video, especially as it represents an individual's viewpoint. PEG is still alive and in some communities, thriving.

    Mr. Lockwood's post is a good reminder of why I do this...

  3. Matt Wright from Honed SEO, October 3, 2013 at 7:16 a.m.

    I agree with R Appe in some respects. Chris, did you not prefer school lessons when they rolled out the TV? R Appe do you get entertained by 10 minute dry episodes of 1970 fire safety instructions?

    Video is very much the best at entertainment but also the very best at persuasion, information and appreciation which have nothing to do with entertainment.

    Video is therefore the most effective at all forms of content because it combines the senses. Motion with images and sound. That is why video is very much more than just entertainment but very much less than entertainment if the format on which you produce it is narrow minded.

  4. Christopher Lockwood from Adjust Your Set, October 3, 2013 at 7:48 a.m.

    Thanks for your comments; my focus was more on video as a 'medium' than the 'message'. I think I state that video is entertainment AND news AND education AND, AND... which is precisely why it works in so many ways, on so many platforms and devices and continues to become ever more important in our lives, and seems further than ever away from being surpassed by the next big thing.

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