First it was words, then it was images, now its video. Social media is evolving and video content is fast becoming one of the most popular forms of social interaction as it has superb potential for building a brand, increasing reach and raising awareness. According to Cisco, video content is predicted to account for 69% of global consumer internet traffic by 2017, an increase of 57% on 2012, and that the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will cross global IP networks every three minutes in the same time frame.

So, why does your business need video?

The Dove campaign above landed over 114 million views, is the most viral advert of all time, is the most shared advert of 2013 and was seen in over 100 countries. Still need to ask the question: what video can do for your brand?

“Video is an engaging form of content, combining the visual and the aural, and allowing organisations to communicate so much more than just a message,” says Martin Nurser, Vice President EMEA Qumu, “Through video, brands can showcase their personality and culture, humour and passion for their products or services. It’s a naturally social form of content that encourages social interaction and enhances the experience of social media networks, both externally and internally.”

Until recently it was assumed that consumers only watched videos in short bites of time, absorbing video content with the same short attention span as they do other forms of social. The Ooyala Global Video Index released for the fourth quarter of 2013 says otherwise – year on year the time spent watching videos on tablets and mobile devices has increased by 719% since the fourth quarter of 2011 and 160% since 2012. In addition to this, long-form videos that last longer than 30 minutes are becoming increasingly popular with 53% of mobile viewers spending over half their time on videos of this length and 35% of tablet users.

Long Form Video

This doesn’t mean that brands can now shift into creating long-form videos that promote their brands endlessly on social networks, but it does show that consumers are increasingly open to being drawn into video if it hits the right notes and that they are willing to give up their time to actively engage with it.

“The application of video for social media and brand association is vital in assisting in delivering your message or promotion to the target audience,” says Richard Bosman, Marketing Manager, Toshiba Gulf FZE-SA, “Today’s consumer has unlimited access to various forms of media through the internet that delivers instant and interactive communication. People like to look at something and they like to engage with content, and video can deliver an experience, and not just a message, to a wide audience almost immediately.”

It’s a numbers game

The facts and figures that are coming out around video right now are impressive. The same Cisco report mentioned above also pointed out that it would take one person over five million years to watch the amount of video that will be expected to cross the global IP networks each month by 2017. That’s nearly a million minutes of video per second.

That’s not good news for brands that don’t know how to leverage their video content correctly.

One of the most common mistakes made by businesses when developing social video campaigns is they don’t bring all elements of the campaign together at the start - the goals defined, the content and audience assessed and the final product an amalgamation of them all. The result of a mismatched effort is usually a dissonance between brand and consumer with content that neither engages nor interests the target market.

“Rely on people that have the required skill sets to deliver your message, and ensure that you maintain direction,” says Bosman, “It’s very easy to lose focus on what the objective or actual message was supposed to be when getting caught up in the creative process.”

Blend your video with your social campaigns, offering up rich content to your target markets that can fit in with their time constraints and interests. Content that includes video and images and text that are interconnected will build on one another to create an integrated social experience.

“Social media has trained us to look for snippets of interesting content, those that can draw us into a deeper conversation, and video fulfils that role and attracts others to us so we can engage them,” says Marcus Cauchi, Sandler Training, “Actively encouraging sharing with a good headline, good content, a call to action and a reason to share it can help build the brand, however, video on its own without visibility is useless. Make sure you are using a mix of media and raising awareness and ranking along the way.”

Recent statistics released by Shutterstock showed that 61% of Americans watched an average of 397 online videos in January 2014 of which 36% were adverts. Video is a strong player for any brand and has enormous potential.

A case in point

The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) appointed Tangerine PR to raise awareness about the service and educate the public and they decided on video content to achieve the goal. Over the course of the campaign they created videos that followed key roles within NWAS such as emergency medical dispatcher, specialist paramedic and ambulance crew as they engaged in their daily lives.

“The goal of the campaign, known as #Team999, was to generate mass awareness as to when the public should call 999 as well as increasing public understanding of the specific roles within NWAS,” says Anna Wilson, Tangerine’s Head of Digital.

The campaign has had some strong results with 45 hours of watching time, 2, 337 online views and the videos have been attributed with a 5% reduction in emergency calls and 4% fewer incidents over December 2013.

While not a viral campaign as dramatically successful as the Dove one above, #Team999 did what it needed to do and achieved its goal. There was no dissonance between target market, content creation and video deliverables and it shows in the results.

And for the fourth most watched advert of 2013? It was when Kmart in the United States took a risk on some juvenile humour and it paid off for them in spades. It just goes to show – hit the market with the right tone and your brand can bring itself out of obscurity and back into the spotlight.

In the second part of this series we will take social video to the next level by examining how to engage with viewers, what makes a viral video and how to promote video across multiple channels and how to avoid common mistakes.