For more than a decade, social media has pushed its way to the forefront of online- & digital-based marketing, ranging from Twitter to Facebook, to newcomers like live-streaming app Periscope. It’s safe to say that virtually every big brand in the online marketplace has its own social media “homepage,” spending X-amount of dollars on ad spend and promotion. But is it all worth it? The answer is an easy one—yes, and it’s thanks largely in part to millennial shoppers driving up digital consumerism. But where does video fit into all of this?

Video is the future of social media, and Facebook is making that well known throughout the industry, implementing its own multi-pronged approach to take down the current leading video platform, YouTube. There’s just one problem with this grand scheme: somewhere along the lines, developers forgot what it means to be truly interactive with video. As I mentioned in a previous post, 360-degree video has overshadowed traditional online video as the new “interactive” feature for viewers, but interactivity isn’t just incorporating virtual reality into a video. Sure, you can look around in all directions, but the production process is hardware-intensive and allows solely for viewing—not doing. You can’t ask, “What’s that?” when the video skims over an image, or really interact with it more than you would a movie on a large format IMAX screen. From a marketing perspective, interactive video is not virtual reality; it’s a means of truly engaging the audience in an immersive and responsive manner.

The media has distorted the public eye into thinking of virtual reality as the new interactive video, which we know is not (entirely) the case. Regardless, Facebook has largely invested in video advertising capabilities that are drawing more brands to its platform versus its competitors. Twitter is pushing forward with a similar mindset, although instead of embracing augmented reality like Facebook and YouTube, it’s moving forward with Twitter Ads and Autoplay features that are drawing a more tactful marketing mindset to the 140-character count posting platform. Video is indeed a revenue-boosting fruit of social media labor, and Yasmin Bendror puts it best in her Business 2 Community article:

“The main goal of social media video for businesses is to make a connection, get shared and start a dialogue with the target audience.”

Why Native Posting Matters

It’s well apparent that Facebook and YouTube are dominating the video ad space for social media, but Twitter is closing the gap with short-form video content and promoted advertising. A recent report from Socialbakers found that native Facebook videos obtain a broader reach than any other type of post, and with video traffic reaching 4 billion daily views; the social-video platform is reaping the benefits. Twitter is on the low-end, but still holds a firm position for marketers. With more and more businesses bypassing YouTube altogether and instead uploading native video content directly to platforms like Facebook, the statistics speak for themselves. Photos have long since dominated users’ newsfeeds, but video generates an average boost in reach of 135 percent.

A More Interactive Social Experience

While Facebook & Google are making waves across the industry space, testing new waters via a multitude of tech endeavors, the “little guys” are still plenty relevant. Thanks to embedded video and URL-based platforms, social media isn’t just a means of providing video content—it’s part of the experience. This is where Twitter has the upper hand, for example: startup Tivi allows users to directly integrate Twitter feedsinto the video presentation, in turn making it a part of the viewer-presenter conversation. Quizzes and reveal-based content such as what startup Scratch It is developing are also great revenue-building means of boosting interactivity in social video marketing. Lastly, Entrepreneur lists branded web series as another viable option for driving a more interactive social campaign, showing a 43 percent year-over-year increase according to Adobe Digital Index.

One of the biggest shortcomings with social platforms and video is this: social mediums are, and will most likely continue to be, distribution channels for created content. Embeddable videos with interactive features, either added natively or through an outside developer, are all cogs in the grand machine relying on the online community for promotional gain. Live streaming is paving the way for a new video-oriented culture of community managers, where content is created and distributed all in one, but our beloved networks have only just recently started tapping into the live video goldmine with Periscope and Facebook Live.

Social media and video will continue to become more commonplace with one another as a distribution medium in today’s dynamic digital economy. Video is consistently proving to be an engagement booster over text for online traffic, and with billions of users flocking to social platforms on a daily basis, the possibilities are seemingly endless with regards to scalable brand marketing.

(Originally published via LinkedIn Pulse on November 4, 2015)

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Max Greenwood is the manager & director of social media for Tivi: Truly Interactive Video, a radical new online video platform incorporating interactivity into live and on-demand video content.

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