Founder & President at Digital Marketing Experts – DMX Marketing, a Premier Google Partner Agency located in Toronto, Canada.
Despite feeling like it dragged on for an entire decade, while also speeding past us all in a flash, 2021 has departed and 2022 is already here. As we dust ourselves off from the roller coaster that was the last 12 months, it is important to focus on the right areas in 2022, and nowhere is this more true than the world of social media marketing.
Last year saw some big changes in the forms of content that resonated with users, with short-form video striding out victorious well ahead of other formats. This is nothing new; data from 2018 pointed to video as consumers’ favorite type of content. But it is the way that the social media giants have reacted to the popularity of quick, vertical video clips that is so striking. While TikTok is very effective and extremely enjoyable to use, the platform’s snappy short-form content is not exactly a new concept. One just has to remember the app Vine and how well younger generations connected with it before its demise at the hands of Twitter. But TikTok’s resounding success, growing to 1 billion monthly active users by September 2021, changed the playing field in a way that no other platform has. Users have flocked to the app in staggering numbers, leaving the rest of the social media landscape to try and react.
Instagram is a case in point. The once image-focused app has changed course. In June, the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, said the app is moving more toward video following the success of TikTok and YouTube. Since then, it has reformatted IGTV and in-feed video into the combined “Instagram Video,” increased the length available for video clips in Stories from 15 seconds to 60 and has pushed the use of its TikTok contender, Reels.
And Instagram isn’t the only one making changes. YouTube has been keen to entice both viewers and creators to its own short-form video competitor, YouTube Shorts. The new addition to the original titan of online video comes with YouTube’s “Shorts Fund,” a fund of $100 million to pay creators for making YouTube Shorts content throughout the year.
While companies have been scrambling to get involved with the short-form video rush, longer video has been left behind somewhat. YouTube still remains the best place for longer-form content. However, while traditional video has not seen as much success on other platforms, live streaming has. With live streaming growing 99% between April 2019 and April 2020 alone, live video has exploded in popularity. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok all have their own “Live” features alongside more dedicated platforms such as Twitch.
Many consumers look to live streaming for Q&As or product demonstrations, allowing them closer engagement with their preferred brands. While short-form is all about the quick, snackable content, many people are turning to live video for the opposite, namely more substantial interaction and information from the companies they are interested in. It is clear that social media companies have seen the growing demand for live content. One just needs to take advantage of recent updates by TikTok and Facebook to increase engagement with live streams.
It is clear that video — both live streaming and short-form — is at the forefront of social media platforms’ perspectives for the foreseeable future. It also needs to be something we all pay attention to.
For its 2022 Social Media Trends survey, Hootsuite asked businesses what activities they engage in to sell products and services. Their list of choices included influencer promotions, shoppable social posts, user-generated content and more. Short-form videos took the top spot with 39.4% of respondents saying they use them. Social ads were the only other option that over 30% of respondents chose. Joining that list was live stream product/service tutorials at 26%. HubSpot reported similar findings in its 2022 Marketing Industry Trends report. And when marketers were asked what trends they would be leveraging for the first time in 2022, 29% said short-form video content, and 22% said live streaming video. As more and more people get on board with video, you don’t want to be left behind.
When it comes to using video content for social media channels, it’s essential to focus on three main areas: what information you can provide your audience, humor and the human side of your brand. Short, humorous clips have always done well in the realm of social media; meanwhile, we have seen more and more that consumers are looking for transparency, engagement and personality from the brands they follow on social media. On top of this, educational content can help your brand’s reputation as a reliable source of knowledge in your area of expertise. Video content provides you with the best way to bring this to your audience, as it gives you a wide array of options for how you can do so. Short-form content may not seem at first glance to be the best for explaining the functions of a product, but a short clip showing it in action can speak a thousand words in just 15 seconds. Meanwhile, you can use a live stream to show your audience some of the inner workings of your company, helping show a genuine and real side of your brand.
My final piece of advice is that while you should not limit yourself to a single platform, keep an eye on where you are seeing the most engagement (i.e., where your audience is). These are the places where you will want to focus this year and hopefully build even stronger engagement.