A Pew study shows that more of us are watching online video than engaging in social media (via the lovely and talented Liz Gannes at NewTeeVee).
Seems 62 percent of US internet users have watched online video, and only 46 percent have engaged in social media. Surprised?
Naturally, there are loads of questions you may have about this data: there’s a big difference between “did it once” and “do it daily,” and I’m not even sure some social-media users KNOW they’re using social media (here’s a video explaining it), while online-video viewers can easily self identify. The comments on Gannes’ piece reflect the debate around the difference between online video and social media.
Of course brands need to consider both online video and social media as being exponentially more influential than interruption advertising.
YouTube is (at its core) a social-media sharing site that uses the most visceral form of social media: video. But it has two advantages beyond social media (Facebook, Twitter). First, it’s easier to access — you don’t need to register, create a profile, and be a hardcore social-media nut to “pop in” for a quick engaging video. Second, video has value to people who have absolutely no interest in social media (where the inverse is not necessarily as true).
By contrast to social media, consider what video offers:
- It requires no routine checking, registration, intrusion, or self exposure.
- People can watch a video, and go away… it’s low maintenance, easy for even the technologically phobic, and attractive even if you’re shy.
- It tends to be more engaging and influential because in addition to “social media” use (interacting with peers via video), we can also find comedy, news, porn, how-to and so much more.
- The market for these varied manifestations of online-video is, indisputably, significantly larger than that of “social media.” Eventually no Boomer will claim they haven’t seen an online-video, but how many will spend time each day checking Facebook in 3 years? And the people growing up with social media will eventually blur the lines of socialization and the “media” portion.
Bottom line: online-video will always trump social media. It has a lower barrier to entry and it’s easier to sustain use. Many people start social networking accounts with great plans, and ditch them… hence the term “twitter fatigue.” Nielsen reports that 60% of Twitterers fail to return again, and having 50,000 “followers” means quite little if most of those people forgot Twitter exists. This is true for Facebook and other sites. You either become OCD with it, or ditch it completely.
And this isn’t terribly new. The average blogger, as written in this piece, “has the lifespan of a fruit fly.” Generally, for every person who contributes to social media, there are maybe 100 that consume it but stay quiet. About 1/100th of my viewers comment, for example. Blogs are important even if not everyone needs one.
Again- brands haven’t seen the last of social media, and there’s no question that social media is growing in use and influence. It’s fundamentally important because customers are influencing each other in ways brands can finally measure and harness. My hypothesis, however, is that while social media will continue to become part of our life, it will lose much of its charm in 2010… as we people discover that obsessing over social media can be as counterproductive as living inside an e-mail box. And brands discover that social media is an answer, but not the answer. Perhaps in the coming years, the term social media will feel as cliche as portals. The notion of a brand having a “social media” strategy will seem as silly as having an eBusiness strategy.
All of these mediums and tactics are in service of a brand’s strategy, not strategies alone. If you’re a VP of eBusiness or Social Media, I’d argue you’re either a technologist, PR guy, or marketer in disguise.
That’s all I’ve got right now. Agree? Disagree? One in 100 of you will say so below.