Written by Michael Del Gigante
It seems like the way we utilize social media changes on a daily basis. Only a few years ago, video content on social platforms tended to be short pieces that could be watched quickly. Today, long-form video is the latest thing and it looks like it’s here to stay.
Social media giant Facebook reportedly has poured up to $1 billion into developing original long-form video content for its Watch platform. Facebook Watch allows users to access original shows from its partners, such as the Discovery Channel. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube are all expected to follow suit by devoting hundreds of millions of dollars to long-form programming.
Why is social media so fascinated with long-form video? Is there consumer demand for this type of content? How will this transition affect advertisers? Does this mean the end of traditional television or streaming platforms like Netflix?
- Why Are Social Media Platforms Interested in Long-Form Video Content?
Since online long-form video content has proven to be popular and effective for several years, it’s only natural that this transition would eventually reach social platforms.
In 2016, approximately 80 percent of U.S. Internet users streamed or downloaded video content at least once a month. That number is expected to increase to nearly 84 percent by 2021. To further demonstrate how comfortable consumers have become with watching lengthy digital video content, 61 percent of American adults say they regularly watch shows on Netflix, 33 percent on Amazon Prime, and 24 percent on Hulu.
The prevalence of mobile devices among consumers appears to be a driving factor in the popularity of online video content. In 2016, 73.7 percent of mobile phone users streamed or downloaded video content at least once a month. That number is expected to rise to 82.5 percent by 2021.
- Does Money Play a Role in the Shift to Long-Form Content?
Like most business decisions, the transition to long-form video is motivated by a desire to garner a larger share of advertising dollars. Recognizing that social media and video are a powerful marketing combination, half of advertising and marketing professionals expect to increase their spending on social platform video content in the near future, and 40 percent plan to increase their spending on online TV shows. This expansion into long-form video provides brands with additional inventory that they can use for their video advertising on social platforms and online programming.
- Will Consumers Watch Long-Form Videos on Social Platforms?
While social platforms may like long-form video, it only makes sense if it’s what audiences want. The answer to whether consumers will accept lengthier content on social media is somewhat murky.
According to one survey, younger audiences appear to be much more accepting of long-form content than older audiences. Among U.S. social media users between the ages of 18 and 24, 47 percent said they would watch their favorite television show on a social platform. The number drops to only 38 percent among adults between the ages of 25 and 54, and 23 percent for adults over the age of 55.
- What Is the Current State of Long-Form Video on Social Platforms?
There’s no disputing the fact that video content in general has been a success on social media. More than half of social media users in the U.S. watch video on Facebook. This is followed by 48 percent of Instagram users and 30 percent of Twitter users. Will this success translate to long-form content?
Whether long-form video can be deemed a success at this point is difficult to discern. A survey conducted by Morgan Stanley AlphaWise found that 40 percent of Americans over the age of 16 who use Facebook viewed video content on Facebook Watch on a weekly basis. Another survey painted a slightly less rosy picture. The survey, which was conducted by Raymond James, found that 75 percent of Facebook users never viewed Facebook Watch content, and only 5 percent watched at least once a week.
- Will Long-Form Video on Social Media Succeed?
Since long-form video is still relatively new to social media, the long-term outlook remains unclear. The pessimistic outlook expressed by the Raymond James survey may reflect the fact that audiences have not fully embraced this type of social media content.
Like any other type of change, it may simply take American audiences a while to become comfortable with long-form content. In a survey of video streaming behaviors around the world conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, 43 percent of U.S. consumers said they watch video through a digital streaming service compared to only 41 percent of consumers worldwide. When it comes to watching video on social platforms, however, 52 percent of consumers worldwide said they viewed content this way compared to only 40 percent of U.S. consumers. U.S. consumers were also less likely to stream video through TV network sites or apps, gaming sites or apps, or a pay TV service provider site or app.
So how should brands and marketers interpret this conflicting information? There are a number of factors indicating that long-form video content on social media isn’t a passing fad and is likely to become an increasingly important marketing strategy in the long run. The ongoing shift in audience behavior, the increase in the number of younger consumers who are accustomed to consuming digital content, and increased advertiser demand all bode well for the future of lengthier video content on social platforms. That’s not to say, however, that there won’t be growing pains along the way. The disparity between the behaviors of U.S. consumers and consumers globally may indicate a gap between the current behaviors of Americans and what audiences are willing to embrace. It’s very likely, however, that the gap will be bridged in the very near future.
About Michael Del Gigante, CEO of MDG Advertising
In 1999, CEO Michael Del Gigante founded MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton, Florida and Brooklyn, New York. With his unique insight and decades of industry experience, he turned what was once a traditional ad agency into an integrated branding firm based on an innovative 360-degree marketing philosophy that provides a full spectrum of traditional and digital advertising services.