By Adam Fraser.
In the business world of old it was nice to compartmentalise. To draw up transparent and obvious lines in the sand for segmentation of a sector. Easy delineation. When changes came they seem to crawl up on us.
If only the world of social media were this easy. Rapid change is a permanent and seems to come quarter by quarter not decade by decade.
Instagram and Pinterest – they’re the image based social networks? Yes…until pretty much all the networks went very visual – even business focussed LinkedIn.
WhatsApp and Viber are for messaging. Yep…but now even Pinterest has a direct message platform. As does Instagram…and Facebook of course. SnapChat is based around 1:1 or 1:few messaging.
Twitter used to look very different to Facebook. Glance now at a home screen – not THAT different any more.
Are all social networks converging? A post for another day. But one area of real interest and rapid change is the online video space.
OK thats an easy one. YouTube is by far the market leader. Well yes but…what if I told you that on Facebook, brands uploaded more videos directly to Facebook rather than via YouTube last month? Yep, this is a major landscape shift from recent months – as Facebook focuses more and more on video uploaded directly to its own platform it is actively (and successfully) attempting to eat some of YouTube’s lunch.
Facebook’s focus on video has been apparent for a number of months. In September last year it was reported that Facebook was trying to poach ‘talent’ from YouTube – people operating Multi Channel Networks (MCNs) on YouTube.
At an analysts call following Facebook’s Q3 results, in October 2014, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg said:
“The investments we have made in video have also played a big part here. This quarter we announced a new milestone for video on Facebook achieving 1 billion video views a day of made videos. During the summer the ice bucket challenge drew more than 10 billion video views by 440 million people which is a good sign of how far our video product has come.”
When Zuckerberg presented and answered questions at a very interesting town hall meeting late last year, he covered a wide range of topics re Facebook. One quote to make YouTube sit up and take note:
“Five years ago most of Facebook was text, and if you fast-forward five years, probably most of it is going to be video, just because it’s getting easier to capture video and the moments of your life and share it”.
A study from Social Bakers showed that in December 2014 brands uploaded more videos directly to Facebook rather than linking to a YouTube upload. With Facebook being the largest social network of over 1 billion global users this is not an insignificant trend for YouTube’s overall business, which in late 2013 was estimated to control 20% of the US online video ad market.
A January 2015 blog post from Facebook confirmed the increasing importance of (native Facebook) video and guided publishers on what type of video content they believed would work best. This hinted at more disruption to the ad sharing models for online video publishers.
Facebook is benefiting from an unfair advantage here. What do they say about the Golden Rule? – he who controls the gold, makes the rules. Facebook owns the users and controls its own platform rules. It is auto-playing videos in the news-stream but only if you upload the video direct to Facebook. Big difference in user experience. Big difference in engagement rates. Big incentive for people (especially brands) to upload directly via Facebook’s video platform rather than linking to a YouTube video.
Higher engagement rates are a natural consequence of this Facebook operating tactic, which feeds the desire to only upload via Facebook. Stories of brand’s successes will spread. Smart move by Facebook. It’s their house – they make the rules (as I previously discussed).
The themes of digital disruption, rapid change and shifting business models are evident in spades in online video. Video is the latest “next big thing” for 2015. YouTube remains the dominant force in this space – no question – but it will need to keep evolving to hold its leading position in this turbulent landscape. When Facebook focuses on your main business line it’s probably worth sitting up to take note.