This past weekend, our team joined over 3,000 industry professionals (and about 19,000 fans) at VidCon in Anaheim. While crowds of teenage girls still scream their hearts out and mob popular creators the second they spot them just like they did last year, VidCon felt very different this time around. It accurately reflected the drastic change, democratization if you will, in the landscape of online video. It was no longer just a YouTube convention. And if you want to remain successful as an online video creator, you should understand how the industry is shifting.
We attended almost every industry panel and put together a summary of the most relevant topics for creators:
Expand beyond YouTube
Unlike previous years, this VidCon offered a series of panels and discussions analyzing the future of online video beyond just YouTube. Various other platforms have been gaining prominence over the last months, and while YouTube remains at the core of the industry, failing to incorporate other platforms into your strategy would result in just that - a fail.
Does that mean that you should immediately hop on every social network in existence trying to promote your videos? Look at it that way: As a YouTube creator, we advise that you treat your YouTube channel and content as your core assets. When you take into consideration what other platforms you want to incorporate into your social media presence, think of the story you are telling on each platform to drive traffic to your core assets.
Between Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Periscope, Snapchat, and others, the selection is quite overwhelming. Choose platforms whose native capabilities fit your own narrative. If you are a fashion/lifestyle channel, Instagram’s ability to showcase images works perfect for you. If you are vlogger, Periscope and Snapchat can facilitate a very genuine way to connect with your audience on more personal level than your YouTube allows.
Don’t forget to take into consideration where your core audience is. For example, if your main audience ranges anywhere from Gen X to Baby Boomers, you might want to focus on a platform with a simpler interface than YouTube, for example Facebook. Build the community there, then move it to YouTube where you can monetize your content.
Use the platform mix you decide to go with to tell a consistent story across the board and utilize each media in your promotional efforts for new content. Treat the release of new content as a special event - hype it up in advance, put it out there with a bang, and continue to engage your viewers after the release. Always create multiple assets (stills, outtakes, memes, gifs, preview teasers, one-liners, etc.) to tell the story of your new project across the platforms you are using.
Lastly, if you focus on brand integration, keep in mind that brands look to invest in platforms that can be measured. While Snapchat and Periscope are great for user engagement and building awareness, they still don’t provide robust enough analytics which might scare brands away.
Facebook vs. YouTube
Is Facebook the platform that will give YouTube a run for its money? (Spoiler alert: according to the heads of every major YouTube network out there - the unanimous answer is yes.) This question was addressed on almost every panel at this year’s VidCon, either as a pain point or a question from the audience. With over 4 billion daily views, Facebook poses a threat for every other player on the online video landscape.
According to a study by our partners at Tubular Labs, out of the top 1000 videos on each platform, a Facebook video generates 7 million more views on average than a video on YouTube. Furthermore, a successful Facebook video has more than twice the engagement of a successful YouTube video.
While these stats are nothing short of impressive, Facebook still has a long way to go before it becomes an effective platform for video creators. It lacks tools that allow monetization, rights management, and better content curation.
Monetizing Facebook videos remains one of the main challenges. While Premium Video Ads on Facebook - the main advertising effort for video offered by Facebook - seem to be getting positive feedback, the average video creator does not benefit from this initiative. Furthermore, if a Facebook user uploads their content to the platform without authorization, creators don’t have a streamlined way to assert their copyright and take it down. This could potentially hurt the monetization potential of a creator’s video on YouTube.
Lastly, videos on Facebook have a much shorter lifespan than YouTube content does. Once uploaded to Facebook, a video has about 48 hours in the spotlight before it gets buried under the myriad of new posts. According to another case study by TubularLabs, 50% of Facebook views happen on Day 1 compared to 20% for YouTube. In conclusion, Facebook owns short-term / first-day success, while YouTube offers a strong long-tail. To quote Thomas Crampton of Social@Oglivy, Facebook is more of a sprint, while YouTube is more of a marathon.
The Rise of Mobile
Video consumption on Mobile is growing at a faster pace than ever which comes with a set of challenges and opportunities you shouldn’t overlook. During her keynote at Vidcon, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki revealed that more than 50% of YouTube views take place on a mobile device. In comparison, 75% of Facebook’s daily views come from mobile as well. And do we need to mention that rival services like Vine, Instagram, and Snapchat are native mobile apps?
Mobile introduced a variety of new formats to the world of online video. From the 6-second video on Vine to vertical videos on Snapchat, these new contexts continue to push creative boundaries and create their own genre of short-form video content. Viewer retention alone is significantly higher for these platforms, which not only stimulates engagement, but might also partially compensate for the lack of analytics they offer to brands and creators.
Similar to Facebook, Mobile’s main challenge remains how to monetize video content. Even the most monetization-friendly player, YouTube, serves ads at a lower frequency when the viewer watches on Mobile. Among the other platforms that work to overcome this challenge is Snapchat who introduced mobile advertising for video by incorporating ads into their Stories; however, the average creator does not benefit from that feature yet.
We are sure that solutions to that challenge are not far away, and in the meantime you should focus on benefiting from the trend towards Mobile. Utilize its platforms to build your audience and funnel it back to your core assets. You might have a large-scale audience consuming your free content, but remember that a percentage of that audience is willing to pay for your content or a brand’s product.