Social media in all forms is approaching its adolescence. It’s no longer brand new, and a lot of Australians have eagerly adopted it and have become comfortable making it a daily part of their sharing and consumption habits online. Facebook claims to have 10 million users down under, close to one in two, and about one million Australians are regular users of micro blogging site Twitter.

Social sites are rapidly growing the size of their share of the time that users spend online. Consequently, marketing budgets look a lot different than they used to in traditional advertising models. The Nielsen-Community Engine 2011 Social Media Business Benchmarking Study found 72 per cent of Australian businesses in 2010 participating in social media allocated 10 per cent, or more, of their marketing budget to it. This is an increase from 57 per cent of businesses in 2009.

Companies, brands, and organisations are becoming content producers, using all available media to tell their stories in the places where consumers increasingly spend the bulk of their online time: on Twitter, on Facebook, and YouTube, for example.

The evolution of online video

Previously, video has often been thought of as a presentation medium for broadcasting one-to-many messages, rather than encouraging conversation and allowing for social contribution.

This notion is changing rapidly. Video wants to be shared. In fact, video is the fastest growing content type shared across the web today. As of last quarter, Facebook surpassed Yahoo as the referral source second only to Google in driving traffic to online video content for media companies and brands.

Video is a powerful and potent medium. Moving images show the full range of human emotion, topped only by talking to someone face to face. When social media and video join forces, they help businesses drive traffic to their website, increase brand awareness, improve customer engagement and loyalty, evangelise and create the right context for marketing messages.

Feeds are the new context

Publishing through social media outlets is really all about context. By delivering video in the places where users spend their time, you have more chances of making a strong impression. You don’t have to drive users to your website to engage with them, and email is not the only inbox to push content to customers these days. Putting your video in the social feed context lets customers interact with your content in their own preferred mode of consumption, whether that is through Twitter streams, Facebook news feeds or mobile apps. A customer who might follow you on Facebook won’t necessarily be a Twitter user. That’s why it’s important to understand how video can integrate with the various social channels:

  • Facebook

Facebook offers 40 per cent of video traffic referrals, with longer viewing time (up to 18 per cent) and has an implicit trust factor as it’s shared with friends. Marketers can leverage this powerful platform by ensuring their video skin is customised and the brand is carried through to Facebook. Facebook users look to their constantly updating stream to catch up on what friends are doing, sharing and liking. Videos that playback on Facebook news feed allow viewers to watch without navigating away from their main browsing activity. Marks and Spencer, for example, allows viewers to share online videos on its Facebook page to maintain the branding with a customised look and feel. It is important to note that video publishers need to be whitelisted to play video through Facebook.

  • Twitter

Twitter is a great way to draw attention to new content as it goes live on your website. With a mere 140 characters at your disposal, every letter counts. Feeds are the new context to deliver fresh news and with a video specific short URL you can add video into that mix. The trend goes towards vanity  shorteners that display the brand.

  • YouTube

YouTube is of course the ultimate combination of social and video, as it was originally built to support social video sharing and response. YouTube is actually the second largest search engine, only behind its parent company, Google. Many businesses are beginning to adopt a blended video distribution strategy that uses a professional video platform to serve professional, highly customised video on their websites and uses YouTube for exposure and awareness building.

Mobile apps capitalise on viewer engagement

More than four in ten Australians access the Internet on their mobiles, accordingly to a recent Sensis e-Business report. Social networking is a key driver of this growth, with many people logging into their Facebook news feed several times a day from their tablet or smartphone.

Facebook themselves suggest that people using Facebook on their mobile devices are twice as active as non-mobile users. Mobile viewers are prime targets for social sharing. As a result, a lot of companies are developing mobile apps to keep in touch and bring their content to customers when they are on the go. Because consumers view from a small screen, they tend to be very engaged, rather than distracted users who are toggling between multiple tabbed windows on a laptop.

A good example of mobile video is UK-based fashion retailer Warehouse. The company has developed a mobile commerce iPhone app using Brightcove’s iOS SDK to repackage the company’s content and clothing catalog for the mobile experience.  iPhone users can browse the collection and add items directly to their mobile shopping cart, or share clothing recommendations with friends using email or Facebook. The app also pushes deal notifications to users, giving frequent shoppers even more reasons to keep interacting with the Warehouse brand.

Video, social media, blogs and e-commerce come together to give loyal customers more reasons to keep coming back for fashion inspiration. The bottom line is: If you put those social buttons prominently in front of your users, whether on your website or in custom mobile apps, you’ll remove all the friction for mobile users wishing to share with their friends.

Brightcove social video checklist

There are a few key things you can do to ensure your videos, content, and players are optimised for social media:

  • Enable social sharing buttons in players. Keeping them on makes it a no-brainer for viewers to start sharing your videos.
  • Enable embed codes for sharing. Same goes for exposing embed codes. Give people an incentive to talk about your content in context to expand your reach.
  • Promote sharing at video completion. Remind people that their next step can be a social one.
  • Create dedicated social sharing templates. The default players are great, but consider creating a dedicated BEML player template that gives your video an extra strong brand impression when your video appears in Facebook streams.
  • Embed clickable calls to action. Consider equipping your video player with clickable call to action overlays that draw engaged viewers back to your site when viewed from within the Facebook social stream.
  • Review performance. Use analytics to monitor performance of videos, especially looking at referral sources to get a sense of how your videos are being shared.
  • Use scheduling rules. Coordinate social media targeted campaigns with rules-based controls in the studio, and
  • Use your metadata. Having complete titles, descriptions, and tags will make it easier for your videos to be found in the first place. Videos are nothing without context!