The Pivot to Video is Dead

The Pivot to Video is Dead

In 2016, Facebook announced that video would be the social media company’s future. Founder Mark Zuckerberg said that by 2020, most of the platform’s content would be video, and he had the metrics to back it up. With their revenue already gutted by social media and shrinking page reach, news organizations frantically tried to keep up in what came to be known—in some quarters more dismissively than others—as the “pivot to video.” Four months after that announcement, Facebook admitted that their numbers had been cooked, but that admission didn’t come until many panicked news organizations had already shed staff.

“Wait a minute," you might say, “We’re in manufacturing, not news. What’s this got to do with us?” Good question. Let’s take a closer look.

A Cautionary Tale

Of course, video marketing is different than journalism, at least on the surface. Drill somewhat deeper and there are some similarities, however. Most news organizations either are for-profit or are at least keeping a close enough eye on the bottom line that they can keep their writers paid and the lights on. If video is important, then it’s equally important to keep up with the changing landscape. Faced with a platform that wasn’t so much acknowledging a shift as trying to actively shape it, the haste is understandable.

We’ve seen the same happen to many of our own clients as different digital channels change their terms and algorithms with little warning and no real ability to have a meaningful say in the matter, so it’s not as though this is a strictly academic concern for businesses outside the news media. It’s up to us to learn, and an article by Heidi Moore in the Columbia Journalism Review provides some insights into why the pivot to video failed. If we can learn from them, we can do better.

  • A quicksand of metrics, where faulty analysis had marketers reaching more users than actually existed
  • The mistaken assumption that a third-party platform has your best interests and not their own at heart
  • A shift in emphasis away from depth to more “snackable” content, de-prioritizing quality in the mistaken belief that shorter-form content automatically meant more clicks
  • Crippled or counterproductive user experience, with pre-roll or mid-roll advertising frustrating end-users and kneecapping engagement

What can we learn from this? For one thing, we must understand that there are no quick fixes; rather than looking for a magic bullet, we need to have an arsenal of resources from which to draw. Each platform attracts different users, with different needs, desires, and even attention spans, and there’s no one size that really fits all. Furthermore, even though a newspaper isn’t a manufacturing business, we’re often working with similarly limited time, money, and resources, so we’d all do well to take heed.

It’s also worth remembering that the pivot to video failed in part because it came at the expense of brands’ existing strengths. If you’re going to incorporate video in your marketing, therefore, it should be regarded as a supplement to your existing strategy rather than a replacement. Finally, it’s absolutely vital to remember that these platforms exist primarily to serve their founders and shareholders, not their users; if you aren’t looking out for your best interests, they certainly won’t do it for you.

The Benefits of Video Marketing

For all the frustration occasioned by the pivot to video, we ought not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. If you’re willing to put forth the time and effort to do it right, video marketing can be a definite benefit to your business.

Social media loves video.

There was more behind Facebook’s “pivot” than wishful thinking and the promise of revenue from boosted posts after they’d throttled organic reach. Social media sites don’t generate their own content. They rely on their users for that. If they don’t have high-engagement content, they’ll lose eyeballs to sites that can deliver. If you have content that sticks, your content is helping them keep users from opening another tab and jumping ship to YouTube or Vimeo instead. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing in it for you, of course. Tell a story with useful information, a good emotional hook, or a humorous payoff, and people will pass it along to friends and colleagues, increasing your reach and visibility.

Google loves video.

If we asked you to name the largest search engine, you’d probably make the right guess. Google is so dominant that their brand comes to mind even on the rare occasions that you’re using one of their competitors. But did you know that they’re so dominant that they also own the world’s second-largest search engine? That search engine also happens to be a content delivery system. Feed YouTube and you’re likely to be rewarded by Google, too — giving your overall SEO a boost and making your brand more visible to the people and businesses you’re trying to reach.

Your customers love video.

Video benefits your customers, too. For one thing, video forces us to be creative and more concise in our messaging, which your prospective viewer will enjoy and find useful. But there’s another reason we love video: humans are hard-wired to process audiovisual information faster than the printed word. Studies suggest that it’s not just a cliche that a picture is worth a thousand words; we actually process visuals up to 60,000 times faster than text, so your video messaging makes a deeper impression quicker than the printed word would.

Getting Your Video Marketing Right

Just as the pivot to video came with a catch, so does video marketing. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. That means understanding your audience’s needs, crafting a compelling offering, and telling a story that ties the two together. If you’re considering a similar pivot, it need not end in tears. Cain & Company can help you design a comprehensive marketing strategy that integrates video with print, billboards, SEO, and much more. Get started with a consultation today.


Robin Chandler

Robin Chandler

Marketing Coordinator & Copywriter
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