As of June 2021, TikTok users on Android devices now spend more time each month watching content than YouTube users (also on Android devices). In UK countries, the difference is even more drastic than in the U.S. as TikTok users continue to watch more video content than on YouTube.
Additionally, HubSpot's 2021 State of Marketing Report reveals that video is the top content marketing strategy used by brands while social media is ranked as the top marketing channel.
With data like that -- and all the growing social media video platforms out there -- it's become obvious that social media marketing and video content go hand in hand.
While creating great social media videos for your company can be an incredibly effective marketing tactic, each social media content strategy shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all approach. To ensure that your videos are seen and spread quality brand awareness, you'll need to ensure you're making the right videos for the right audiences on the right platforms.
To help you figure out where to publish your video content -- and which types of videos to post -- we surveyed 300+ consumers to find out where they most commonly watch videos on social media.
Below, we'll reveal the results and a few expert tips for building the best social media video-sharing strategy for 2021 -- including one from an expert at Wistia.
Where are Consumers Watching Social Media Videos?
In recent years, Gen-Z-targeting platforms like TikTok and Instagram have been on the rise. But if you think that everyone's primarily watching video on these platforms, you might be surprised by what our poll found.
When I asked consumers "On which social media platform do you most commonly watch videos?", 35% of respondents said YouTube.
While it's not surprising that YouTube or Facebook, some of the world's biggest online platforms, are the preferred video viewing sites, only 8% of respondents said they primarily watch videos on Instagram -- one of the pioneers of Stories and live video.
Another surprising find was that 20% of respondents -- or 1 in 5 people -- primarily use TikTok (the youngest social network on the list) for video viewing. While this doesn't necessarily mean you need to shift your whole strategy to TikTok, it does show that the platform could continue to have a promising future for content marketers.
If this data has you worried that you're publishing videos on the wrong platforms, take a breath. Remember that this is just one informal consumer survey. Had we polled a specific age group, people from a specific industry, or consumers from different regions, the results might have swayed to other platforms -- like LinkedIn or Twitter.
However, even though this is just one small survey, it does remind us that a mix of older and newer platforms, like YouTube and TikTok, are the go-to video platforms for vast audiences.
In another study, we surveyed 310 social media marketers in the United States to find out which social media platforms they leverage, which formats they use, and their plans and expectations going into 2022.
In this study, we found the top format marketers leverage on social media is video content: short-form video (54%) and live videos/streaming (47%). Additionally, this format is known to be the most effective as well, as 85% of respondents said short-form videos, and 70% said live videos/streaming are most effective.
This being said, marketers reported that video content has the highest engagement levels and ROI on both Facebook and Instagram.
With this in mind, it's not surprising that 95% of marketers who leverage short-form videos plan to increase their investment or continue investing the same amount in 2022. Additionally, 95% of marketers who leverage live videos/streaming plan to increase their investment, and 89% of marketers who leverage long-form videos plan to increase their investment or continue investing the same amount in 2022.
Now that we've gotten an idea of where consumers are primarily watching social media videos, we'll walk you through a few tips for sharing the best videos for different social media audiences.
Tips for Sharing Social Media Videos
1. For most platforms, zone in on snackable content.
The world is becoming more fast-paced every day. While many people are watching social media videos in their spare time, some are watching them between meetings, while in line at the store, or on public transit. Even if people do have time to watch hours of video, there's so much out there that they'll want to scroll to more content almost immediately after their video starts.
That's why one social media video strategy to focus on in 2021 is mastering the art of "snackable" or super short-form content.
"Using snackable videos on social can actually drive more engagement than static images," says Meisha Bochicchio, Content Marketing Manager at Wistia. "A recent study found that 60% of marketers saw more clicks with video posts compared with static images."
When it comes to creating effective snackable content, Bochicchio says, "First things first, keep in mind that most social media platforms will automatically start playing video content as viewers scroll. So, make sure your videos are autoplay-friendly. Keep them short and put your key messaging in the first few seconds. For example, take a look at this video from Wistia announcing their State of Video Report."
"Remember that most people won’t hear your audio, so make sure your videos are also silent-friendly,"Bochicchio advises. "Consider text overlays, or upload captions directly on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
In the video example below, Wistia marks the launch of their series "Show Business" with a captioned video that allows viewers to get key information without any sound.
2. Test different video formats, too.
While snackable content is a great tactic to harness in 2021, you can still publish longer videos, as long as they're engaging and valuable to your audience.
For example, while people might not want to watch a two-hour commercial, they could watch a longer live video Q&A, an interview with a thought leader, or a video that tells a longer, but entertaining story.
As new video formats emerge, it can be helpful to determine if they might work for your brand and design a test around them.
Be sure you identify and track the right success metrics. For example, if you're testing a longer video, look at its views and dropoff rate to see how long viewers stay tuned. Meanwhile, if you try a more interactive approach like a live stream or Q&A you can also take note of comments, engagements, and shares on the content while you're live.
3. Meet your video audiences where they are.
As with any social media strategy, some content will perform better on some social media platforms rather than others. While snackable, consumer-facing content might perform well with YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok's large consumer audiences, a B2B marketing video or a Q&A with a corporate thought leader might perform better on a professional-facing network like LinkedIn.
Luckily, to create a great marketing strategy, you don't (and shouldn't have to) place your videos on every single social media platform. However, you should research the demographics of each major network, identify which audiences might engage most with your content, and start publishing videos where it makes the most sense for your brand and goals.
Then, continue to keep an eye on platforms you've ruled out in case they continue to evolve and provide your brand more audience opportunities in the future.
4. Don't always lean on repurposed content.
When I was a startup marketer, I loved to repurpose content whenever it was possible. And, back then, when social media platforms were less evolved, this strategy would work.
Today, it can still be beneficial for brands to repurpose some video content for different platforms when they have similar audiences and features. This can also be a great way to test whether your content strategy for one platform will work with one audience.
However, because knowing your social media audience is more important than ever, you might want to consider having a slightly different video strategy for your most important video platforms. While there will be times where you can easily repurpose content to save time or bandwidth, some platforms like TikTok and Instagram are evolving with algorithms that could deprioritize your content if it has a watermark from another network.
5. Embrace influencers -- and customers.
Even if you've done all of your research and churn out videos daily, it can still be incredibly hard to post a viral piece of content that grows your audience.
Luckily, there are experts on every social media platform who know how to create videos. And, some of them will even create videos for you -- and then share them with their audiences.
That's why one great growth strategy can involve reaching out to influencers or thought leaders with expertise in your industry and either featuring them in your videos or getting them to endorse your brand in their content.
If you can't afford to have an influencer help boost your video strategy, you can also look towards happy consumers. With this strategy, you can encourage customers to share a video about their experience with your brand on social media, or you can create a video filled with multiple pieces of user-generated content from happy customers.
Because today's consumers crave authenticity from brands, user-generated content not only can provide you with free video content but can also spread brand awareness to prospects or people researching you on social media.
Navigating Social Media Content
More than ever, social media and content marketing are always evolving. As a marketer, it's important to stay up to date with the latest trends and data to better inform your strategies -- whether you're investing in video or other tactics.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in June 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.