Videos on Facebook now get 4 billion daily views, almost four times the figure from a year ago, according to Fortune. And it’s working for online publishers too: Buzzfeed had 500 million video views on Facebook in April, while Mic saw 33 million views from 8 videos in just two months.
That kind of reach will increase Facebook video’s appeal to marketers. A recent survey by marketing firm Mixpo, charted for us by BI Intelligence, indicates Facebook is quickly becoming the choice of platform for video marketers. Of the 125 US marketing and media executives surveyed, 87% said they plan to run an ad campaign on Facebook’s video platform this year. That’s 24 percentage points up from the people who said they ran a video ad campaign on Facebook last year. Facebook’s video platform is also more popular than YouTube video now, according to the survey.
Since the survey only asked 125 people, the results should be taken with a grain of salt. And YouTube still owns a wider video creator base, a stronger copyright policy, and a more established revenue-sharing model than Facebook, BI Intelligence says. But it’s also proof that advertisers will only continue to spend more on social video, with Facebook video being a major recipient of their spending.
They say video killed the radio star. The question is: Did it also kill the print star? And what does the answer mean for online content marketing?
Whether it’s YouTube, Vine or integrated content — video has quickly become one of the most impactful ways to speak to an audience. According to a recent study by Usurv, if you want visitors to your site to share and interact with your content, delivering it via video is the best way to go. Consumers are 39 percent more likely to share content if it’s delivered via video, and 36 percent more likely to comment and 56 percent more likely to give that video a coveted “like.”
Watching a video and reading a print article require completely separate cognitive functions, and for businesses, it’s important to understand the differences before you make a decision to use a video clip instead of print content.
Numbers don’t lie
Internet users do love video. The average consumer with an Internet connection watches roughly 206 videos per month, and Nielsen claims 64 percent of marketers expect video to dominate their strategies in the near future. Taking a look at the numbers, it seems like a no-brainer to say that video content is more engaging than text. But tapping into a little basic psychology, we can further break down these findings, and also describe the conditions that will drive visitors to prefer text.
Different types of cognitive tasks
Videos are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text. Think about the heavy lifting your cognitive system has to do when reading an article vs. watching a video clip! Humans are hardwired to avoid demanding cognitive strain, so this tendency toward “laziness” will, more often than not, invite us to choose information that is easy to process over the form that makes us put out a lot of effort.
Reading articles and watching videos also require two different brain processes. When we read, the process requires us to be actively involved. The brain gets a much better workout when reading vs. watching, and the process requires a longer attention span and deeper cognitive efforts.
Reading is active. When we read an article, we don’t just look at the words in front of us — we create thoughts about that content, activating our mental structures. Reading requires the production of “inner voice,” which dials up our attention span. That means that careful reading is not an automatic process, but rather occurs when we actively process what we are reading.
Watching a video, though, is passive. It’s much less demanding and more of an automatic process, asking a lot less energy and effort on behalf of the person watching.
If you want them to fall in love, send them a video – videos are also much better at seduction.
When we read something, we are actively involved in processing the information in front us. Our cognitive processors are working hard. But while reading is all about thinking, video is better at getting us to feel.
When we watch a video, we become immersed in it and create an empathetic connection with the screen. If you want your visitors to fall in love with your content, it makes sense to deliver it via video. That’s because it’s much easier for us to become emotionally attached to something we watch in a video than something we read in an article.
Emotions are mediated by automatic physiological (motor-sensorial) reactions, which can be explained through a process called mirror-neuron mechanism. A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires not just when we ourselves perform an action, but also when we watch someone else perform that same action. Our brains mirror what’s unfolding before us as if we were part of the scene, even if we are just sitting passively on the sidelines.
So when it comes to mirror neurons, there is no difference between the cinema and real life. This suggests that we could actually be experiencing (in small but significant ways) the pain (and supposedly also the pleasures) of those we witness on screen. This neurological activity makes the spectator much more emotionally involved.
How can we explain the tendency to consume only one form of content?
When we make the decision to click on a video over a text article, it might feel like a clear choice. But the truth is, there are several unconscious factors at work, influencing the visitors’ decision-making process without him or her even realizing it. These factors include the visitor’s state of mind at any given moment, the type of product or service he or she is looking for and his or her overall personality.
I’m in a video state of mind
In my work as a web psychologist, I’ve witnessed two distinctive patterns of behavior that separate users into two kinds of groups: Goal-oriented visitors and unintentional visitors.
Visitors who are in a “browsing” state of mind will pass through a website just to see what’s on offer. Their goal is more to be entertained. This visitor takes in information passively, relying on limited cognitive resources and allowing the website to guide him or her through his interaction. Due to emotion-based processing, this visitor will pay attention to colorful images, embedded video, attractive headlines and catchy slogans. Visitors in a browsing state of mind will tend to prefer video over text.
But then there are visitors who are goal-oriented, who come to your website with a specific need or cause in mind. These visitors are much more willing to use up cognitive resources, and we see that they are more active on the page. They know exactly what they are looking for, be it to read certain content, purchase a specific product or get an update on the latest news. These people are far more likely to choose text over video when given a choice between the two.
Sense of control
When watching a video, we unconsciously let go our perception of absolute control over our environment. Engaging with a movie is a form of escape. Watching a movie can facilitate feelings of dissociation (an experience of having one’s attention and emotions detached from the environment) and can offer mental escapism.
Not all personality types are comfortable giving up their sense of control. Some people need to feel that they remain in the drivers’ seat, so to speak, when they interact with a website. These people will prefer text, because it allows them to skim over portions that interest them less, move backwards to re-read those passages that interest them more, and overall allow for them to set the pace of the interaction.
The product matters
A crucial question for businesses to ask before deciding to deliver their content via video or text is: What is the product that we provide?
Research shows that when website visitors must make an important or consequential decision — such as purchasing insurance or financial products, for example — their more rational, detail-oriented modes are activated and they want to feel in control. In this case, text will provide businesses with a better outcome than video.
But when the consequences of visitors’ interactions are not as meaningful, video will more often than not be the preferred mode of interaction.
Visitors tend to consider video more engaging on the whole because it requires less cognitive strain and humans are hard-wired to avoid heavy work and favor cognitive ease — therefore, it’s a more popular method for delivering information.
But video is not a failsafe. There are several factors at play when visitors select the form of their content, including their current state of mind, the type of product being searched for and their personality. These factors all work to unconsciously influence the visitor’s decision-making process throughout his or her entire interaction with the website, and drive him or her to prefer one form of content that best serves his momentary needs.
Consider these factors when deciding which format of content your audience will respond to best.
Video Marketing Provides Great ROI
There’s no question: online video marketing helps businesses increase their brand awareness, generate genuine buzz, and increase sales.
What’s becoming more evident is just how much of a difference it makes, which is reflected in the results of the latest industry studies. One of the latest, released this year by Animoto, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers, highlights the impact of video:
- 73% are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video.
- 96% say online videos are helpful when making purchasing decisions.
- 71% say watching online video content leaves them with a positive impression of the brand, service or company.
According to eMarketer, online video marketing is a strategic marketing approach that promises the greatest return on investment.
One key business-to-consumer sector is retail, where we are seeing video marketing used to assist a customer’s journey through the sales funnel. Video marketing offers a better view of products, they can be used to promote trends, express brand culture, and video marketing makes a statement that’s much bolder than most marketing and advertising methods. From longer-form videos on YouTube to bite-sized content on Vine and Instagram, the smart brands are getting on board, and they’re seeing results.
Zappos was one of the first and it continues to be one of the most mentioned retail brands leveraging online video marketing. Tens of thousands of videos are embedded on its website at any given time and its YouTube channel is full of products, how-tos, and company culture videos. Zappos also encourages its customers to play a role by allowing them to upload their Zappos Experience videos. While the online shoes and clothing shop is a huge video-hustle example, smaller retailers can start to emulate its success with a few small pieces.
French Connection is another example of a brand that regularly pushes video content to its network on YouTube and other social media. It creates and releases seasonal fashion updates, fashion tips, campaign teasers and series of short “films” that celebrate the “power of clothing.”
Most of them are short and sweet with creative fair – the company puts some of its fashions on a 360-degree moving display, which offers a more engaging experience that is trusted by consumers more than, say, digitally manipulated photos. Other top retail YouTube channels include Home Depot – with a variety of cool DIY project tutorials – Bed Bath and Beyond “product of the week” segments, and Best Buy how-to videos and “latest technology” news.
With mobile traffic set to increase 13X by 2017, retail brands have been quick to experiment with short-form video platforms such as Vine and Instagram. From Ford to H&M, Reebok, GoPro, Ralph Lauren and Tide, there’s even a mashup of the top branded short-form videos of February, 2014. From informative content to entertainment to shock value, there’s no shortage of creativity and unique approaches.
Strategically, it’s about honing in on content a retailer’s target demographic would find intriguing, engaging, informative and helpful, all of which contributes to brand awareness and increased sales. Most brands take a similar strategic approach to video marketing, though the content, of course, is quite different and tailored specifically to their audience.
Not convinced yet? Here are a few more stats from the initial study mentioned:
Video plays an impressive role in consumers’ lives with 94% watching it at least once a week from their desktop.
76% of smartphone owners watch videos at least once a week on their devices.
89% are likely to share a video if they consider it educational.
86% are likely to share a video if there is an incentive, such as a promotion or discount.
Roll and record, retailers. This is your year to make an impact with video marketing.
Lisa Ostrikoff is a TV journalist and anchor-turned-creator of BizBOXTV.
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