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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Consumer trends

Video content is the most popular form of content consumed on the internet today. Brands and businesses are clamoring to create as much video content as possible to keep up with the innovations being introduced by the big social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. As such, these platforms are now competing with each other for video dominance.

Characteristics, benefits, and challenges

We’re going to look at some characteristics, benefits, and challenges of video content creation in the content marketing space.


In terms of characteristics, audience attention spans have shortened greatly. So if you create short, snackable content you will make your audiences very happy because you’re meeting their consumer behavior needs. Make sure that your video content is also relevant to your consumer personas. Include strong call to actions, whether it’s a link back to a website, to download an app, or to avail of something in store. Create high-quality video content. Making sure that your content is premium, top-notch, and reflects your business in the best possible light will help resonate your brand with target audiences.


With video content, you’re capitalizing on an audience need because it’s their number one form of content. Video content also benefits from additional organic reach, which is ultimately cheaper for you to seed in the long run. Also, video content helps to capture the attention and the imagination of audiences in a way that static or text-based content doesn’t necessarily always achieve.


In terms of challenges for businesses, video content is not cheap to produce. Being able to do this dynamically is a real undertaking, considering that video content often requires planning, preproduction, production, and post-production editing. It can be an expensive undertaking for businesses. Also, most video content that’s seeded out in the social web suffers from, and is subject to, silent autoplay: video content that plays within social media newsfeeds with no sound. This is largely due to mobile. On mobile, there needs to be a click into the individual video for you to actually hear the sound. As a result, the consumer behavior is to swipe through story after story without landing on a particular video that interests them. All the time, these videos may start playing in the newsfeed as they scroll by them, but consumers are not necessarily hearing them. So optimizing your content for silent autoplay is key when it comes to seeding any social media video content through your channels.

Different lengths and playback functions

Video consumption habits have changed quite considerably. In 2015, Microsoft reported that we now have an attention span of eight seconds. That said, some marketing communications will require longer forms of video. These videos, however, should be one minute and 30 seconds long at the very most. Shortform video content can be broken up into three distinct varieties:

Shortform narrative

The video is no more than 30 seconds long, but tells a continuous story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Shortform looping

This is a style of content where the narrative is less important and is secondary to the looping nature of the content. An example of a shortform looping piece of video content might be a GIF file. GIFs essentially capture the shortform video file and loop it consistently.

Shortform stop motion

Users can record video by tapping on the screen to hit record, and taking their finger off the screen to press stop. This start/stop fashion is really conducive to special effects, magic tricks, and being able to move quickly from one situation or scenario to another. Largely, the stop motion forms of social video content are captured on mobile as well, so the quality isn’t always up to premium standards.

Shortform versus longform video

We can break video content up into two key formats: longform and shortform. These two content types serve very different needs for social media audiences.


Always consider how the social media audience is viewing the video content. Long viewing usually means that a user is on laptop or a desktop computer. Shortform content is a lot more conducive to on-the-go snackable content that is largely consumed through a mobile device or through a tablet.

Data restrictions

Data restrictions around longform video are high. In terms of shortform content, data requirements are a lot lower.

Retention rates

Retention rates are a lot higher for shortform video because there are less requirements for a user to watch all the way through to the end.


Common themes for shortform might be around humor or educational pieces; whereas longform content is well suited to emotive, compelling pieces where the audience feels required to watch all the way through to the end.


Ultimately, what we find with longform versus shortform video is that the reach for longform video is a lot lower than for shortform.

Consider taking a piece of longform content and serializing it into a number of different segments that you can seed out at different moments in time, thereby converting the longform content into snackable chunks of shortform content. This will help extend your reach and also the longevity of your piece of longform video content.

Longform video best practices

In terms of best practice around longform video, there are a few key rules:

  • Make sure your video is no longer than one minute and 30 seconds long
  • Make sure that you are aware of autoplay in silent mode
  • Include subtitles
  • Include a call to action
  • Make sure that you have permission and usage rights for everyone that features in your video

Shortform video best practices

What are best practices for shortform video?

  • Make sure that your videos are kept to about 30 seconds maximum.
  • Ensure your videos have square dimensions. Square dimensions work particularly well with shortform videos. For example, Facebook and Instagram work really well with shortform videos that have square dimensions. But do consider landscape for platforms like YouTube or Twitter.
  • Be aware of any text overlay that features in your video content in terms of promotion. This is particularly important for Facebook. Reach for your content can be limited based on the amount of text overlays that you have, not only in image content, but in video content.
  • Make sure that you’re not trying to overcrowd the videos with complex, cluttered themes. Keep to one consistent strong idea at the very most.

Challenges by platform

Each individual platform comes with its own challenges when it comes to video content:

  • Facebook’s challenge is that there’s a high concentration of video content on the newsfeed, which makes it difficult for brands to cut through the noise. Predominantly, video content here is also viewed through silent autoplay, which means subtitles should always be considered.
  • On Twitter, half-life within the newsfeed is so fleeting that video content should be promoted where possible to achieve maximum reach. Also consider the silent autoplay feature and the need for subtitles.
  • Instagram has a 60-second limit on any videos being uploaded to the platform. So, if you create a piece of content that’s one minute and 30 seconds long, be aware that you will have to trim 30 seconds out of this content before seeding it on Instagram.
  • YouTube doesn’t have a newsfeed, so getting discovery of your content here can be challenging. Looking towards a content promotion strategy around some paid advertising with the platform is key to driving your brand message.
  • A real challenge with Snapchat’s native video feature is that the content is recorded live and on the go. This prevents any high-end production, so make sure you are adept at mobile capture.
  • On Tumblr, the content consumed is very short. The platform is largely focused on short video content, like GIFs.

Make sure that you’re aware of the challenges you may face when seeding video content out onto these individual platforms.

Facebook versus YouTube

Every month, Facebook and YouTube compete with each other for video dominance. The two platforms battle very closely, with only a few thousand video views in the difference each month for first place.

Being aware that each of the social media platforms are now competing with each other for video dominance should be at the forefront of your marketing strategy. Look towards utilizing the native video features on each platform to help you receive the best return on investment and also the greatest reach. For example, if you have a nice piece of video content, best practice would be to seed it out through the native Facebook player rather than to upload it onto YouTube and seed out the link on Facebook. The two platforms are in competition with each other so, natively, Facebook will penalize you for using a YouTube link.


Consider the brand and business objectives of the individual social media platforms and play to their strengths. In terms of video content, great innovations from the individual platforms are quite frequent.

You can see on this slide (see slide ‘Distribution’) a great example of 360 video that was used as a video of the day for GoPro. 360 video enables users to click and drag and see a full 360 perspective of the entire video capture process. It’s a really nice feature and it’s paving the way in terms of video consumption and innovation, moving video almost into virtual reality.

In the center of the slide, you can see an example of Twitter’s innovative video card that autoplays video within the newsfeed, another example of native video streaming from social media platform.

Then, on the right of the slide, you find YouTube’s own native advertising format, Pre-rolls. Pre-rolls are when YouTube shows you a piece of highly targeted leader content that plays before the piece of content that you want to see. This can be highly targeted towards your particular moment in time and what you’re consuming. For example, if you’re watching funny cat videos, then a brand of cat food that advertises as a YouTube pre-roll in advance of the cat video would make a lot of sense. It has identified that you are interested in animals and specifically that you have an interest in cats.

Organic reach per format on Facebook

On this chart (see slide ‘Organic reach per format on Facebook’), you can see how Facebook’s algorithm has now prioritized organic reach around video content above everything else. Facebook has done this intentionally, in order to compete with YouTube for the video-consuming audience and try and keep people within the singular Facebook experience.

Optimizing per social media channel

Publishing video content

When publishing your video content, it’s important to optimize per social media channel. You receive the best reach by publishing to one of the big five social media channels. These are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram. The only channel without a native upload function within these five is LinkedIn. However, YouTube embeds do automatically play in this channel. Many of the other social sites that allow for native video upload also allow for a very handy call to action button. These can be embedded or overlaid on the video content. Again, the exception to this will be LinkedIn, who rely solely on YouTube for those call to action embeds.

Specialized video advertising platforms

There are also specialized video advertising formats for each platform. One particularly useful feature, for example, is on Facebook, where you can build a target custom audience based on people who have viewed a video for later advertising re-targeting. For example, if you put out a really lovely piece of emotive content, you can re-target everybody who has viewed that piece of content with a follow-up, more hardline sales message, to drive them into the next stage of the conversion funnel.


Use sound to enhance content rather than relying on it. Again, be very cognizant of the autoplay in silent feature that a lot of consumers now use.

Twitter’s video features

Video publisher

Twitter has innovated its platform and now offers distinct video services as part of its stable. A great example of how it was used was for a big rebrand: a special two-minute narrative was put together to explain the processes, the understandings, and the undertakings of the rebrand. This was shared out through targeted key audiences on Twitter, with a promoted spend.


Another neat feature of Twitter video innovation is a platform called SnappyTV. This works as a cloud-based digital video recorder and seeds out live TV snippets. It is exclusively by invitation only from Twitter, and is often utilized by TV broadcasters. For example, while live-Tweeting at a soccer match, a broadcaster can use their SnappyTV subscription to seed out the moment when a serious tackle was made or when a brilliant goal was scored.


Periscope has innovated how we consume video content by allowing users around the world to seed live video directly from their mobile phones. This ties in with an auto-generated URL that is seeded out through a user’s Twitter account and offers brands, businesses, and individuals a great doorway into their day-to-day lives and also real, on-the-go, raw unedited video content.

Facebook’s video features

Native video

One of Facebook’s innovative features is native video. Native video achieves the best organic reach and the best return on views on the platform. In fact, no other social media channel presently can really challenge Facebook on its native video return with key audiences.

360 Video

360 video has been a really successful innovation for Facebook. A great example of this was when teasing out the new Star Wars film, an alien planet was shown in a full 360-degree view where users could explore every inch of this new and strange dimension using this very innovative feature.

Facebook Live

Facebook has launched its platform for live video streaming called Facebook Live. This platform, similar to Periscope, allows audiences to tap into live, unedited, raw content that shows behind-the-scenes footage. This has achieved great kudos from audiences and is best used for live or unique events.


With video now autoplaying in newsfeeds, it’s important to consider how we accurately measure true views for pieces of video content.

You should consider a number of determining factors and metrics when measuring the success of video content:

  • Audience retention. Audience retention will show you how long an audience actually stuck around to watch your content before clicking off elsewhere. The longer you retain an audience, the more of your message that they see. Consider this when including calls to action. Don’t just include them at the end because your audience may not actually get that far in the piece of video content.
  • Average duration of video view. Average duration of video view will show you, on average, how much of your video content was consumed, up until what point, by your intended audience. It is also another important consideration when including your call to action.
  • Video views. Total video views are ranked, ultimately, in different ways by different social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter both regard a video view as three seconds or more, whereas YouTube doesn’t regard a video view until somebody watches 30 seconds.
  • Repeat versus unique. Another really important factor to consider is repeat views versus unique views: the amount of times somebody went back to watch your video in a repeated fashion, rather than just seeing it for the first time. The higher that frequency of reach, the more engaged with your content your particular intended audience is. They haven’t got bored of it, and they’ve gone back to see it again.

Case study: Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a unique and viral nomination mechanic that saw audiences sharing pieces of video content natively on a variety of social media platforms for the first time, with the aim of recruiting people to donate to a charity. Audiences were challenged to pour a freezing cold bucket of ice cold water over their heads in order to generate awareness and donations for a motor neuron disease charity. This gained huge reach on social media, including videos from Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and large global celebrities. Overall, 300,000 pieces of unique video content were created for this particular challenge as it went viral in the social media space. The charity received a 500% increase in donations and ultimately benefitted from this user-generated content.

Streaming from mobile

Live video streaming has its own benefits, but also challenges. Being able to prepare live video in advance isn’t easy. Ultimately, it will come down to planning to control the environment and any external factors. To gain the best reach and audience interaction with your live social channel views, be sure to pre-promote when your social video is going live. Making sure audiences know when to tune into your Periscope or to your Facebook Live, will make sure that they don’t miss these crucial moments before they disappear.

Snapchat’s disappearing content

Ephemeral and unscripted content creation is rising amongst consumer audiences. Snapchat is now the fastest growing social media platform in the world. Ephemeral or disappearing content is the key USP or unique selling point for this platform. Essentially, it means that the content lives for a user- defined period of time and then just disappears. This is different to platforms like Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter, where your content lives on as an endless stream of your previous musings, posts, or content marketing campaigns.

Snapchat’s young audience

Some really interesting statistics around Snapchat include that there’s a slightly female skew of 51%. The age demographic is very young; essentially, from 16 to 19-year-olds. We’re seeing is a huge increase in usage, from 13% in 2013 up to 41%. That number is continuing to increase day by day. The platform is so conducive to personalities that we’re now seeing influencers making names for themselves and creating large followings solely through the platform.

Case study: Dove’s ‘Self-esteem Snaps’

Dove used Snapchat to connect with their audiences in a really meaningful, credible, and trust-earning way. They created a campaign called the Dove Self-esteem Snaps. They drove their content around the concept of self-esteem week. They used real-time conversations between their audiences and a child psychologist and a teacher.

Being able to access the insights of the brand through these professionals allowed audiences to connect with Dove in a very meaningful way that built trust and credibility. The activation drove 7,500 new followers to Dove’s Snapchat account and the content was viewed 130,000 times.

Why did this work? Well, it leveraged the strongest element of Snapchat: personalities. It wasn’t overly complicated, wasn’t heavily branded, and focused on emotional connection with the brand. It was very genuine and it reacted in real time.

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Seán Earley

Creative Director at Teneo PSG Digital

  • Creative Director at Teneo PSG Digital with five years’ experience in Digital Marketing, Social, and PR Agencies
  • Founding member of Teneo PSG Digital
  • Former Director on the Board of the Irish Internet Association
  • Passionate about creating content that captures audience imaginations and delivers business objectives

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