20 June 2016 15:08:07 IST

Death of the written word?

Not just yet. Though, with live streaming gaining traction, videos will soon dominate content on social media

At a recent press meet held by a tech company, the organiser casually asked me if I could recommend any good vloggers. It was not a surprising question really. With Facebook Live now becoming mainstream and video gaining a lot of traction over social media, companies are now bypassing bloggers and reaching out to vloggers. Everybody wants to put out a video message. And the number of people with their own YouTube channels is growing exponentially too.

Social media giant Facebook is certainly putting its might behind promoting video content. Just this week, Facebook’s VP for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Nicola Mendelsohn’s statement sounded like an obit for the written word. “We are seeing a year on year decline in text,” said Mendelsohn, predicting that, five years from now, it would be video, video, video on Facebook.

For some time now content marketers have been telling us that video is the future of their strategy, and to win on mobile, visual impact is the best bet. That future has arrived. With the launch of Facebook Live in April, video momentum has picked up very sharply. A big advantage that Facebook Live has over other services, such as Twitter’s Periscope, is that you can broadcast straight from the Facebook app. The audience reach too is far higher.

Snapchat and Amazon

The other big trigger for video content has been Snapchat’s phenomenal growth — it is reportedly getting nearly 10 billion video views a day, two billion more than Facebook. Between them, the two platforms account for 18 billion video views daily. And mind you, most of the content is user-generated. In fact, the dilemma before marketers is whether to push vlogs on YouTube or go for Snapchat Stories; or do both.

To add to the fun, Amazon has now disclosed plans to promote user-generated videos by launching a new service called Amazon Video Direct. Users can upload content and generate royalty based on number of hours streamed. This new play by Jeff Bezos has the world intrigued — is he taking on YouTube and Facebook?

Meanwhile, the way Facebook Live has been updating its features, a video content strategy seems more and more attractive for brands to pursue. For instance, you get notifications when any of your friends (or any page you follow) are streaming Live. The video feed gets seamlessly delivered in your Newsfeed. Reports suggest that Facebook algorithms promote video content more than text.

The latest from Menlo Park is that a talkback feature will be added to Facebook Live. In an interview this month (aptly broadcast on Facebook Live), Mark Zuckerberg said that Live Videos would be further improved by a real-time chat experience.

New strategy

Validation for a video strategy has also come in Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet report released this June. The venture capitalist and Internet Queen, whose annual trends are a much awaited event, points out how user-generated video content is now redefining marketing. She gives the example of how Dallas shopper Candace Payne’s impromptu video, catapulted Kohl department store’s app to the top of the Apple store. Payne had picked up a Star Wars mask at a Kohl department store and had then clowned around with the Chewbacca mask on. The video went viral, resulting in a lot of publicity for Kohl.

There’s more proof in the data pie. According to Adobe Analytics, shoppers who viewed a brand’s video are 1.81 times more likely to buy a product than those who didn’t.

Shopper videos seem to be all the rage, if you go by Periscope notifications, where people take videos of clothes they want to pick up from stores and ask for your opinion. For retail brands, hotels and restaurants, video content is proving to be a big pull.

Responsive videos

As we go forward, viewers will be able to participate more in live streaming videos, given the option to add text or emojis to the content and respond.

For markets such as India, video content over mobile makes eminent sense when you consider barriers such as language, literacy, etc.

But don’t delete the written word yet. WordPress may have diminishing appeal today, but the way Twitter is pushing its blogging platform Medium, and given the popularity of LinkedIn Pulse, text will have its say.