Audience Engagement Guest Columns
4 mins read

Harnessing the power of video

Welcome to the digital age: where TikTok stars are the new celebrities and “Zoom Fatigue” is a health condition. The evolution of technology has changed everything: from the way we work to how we shop, and of course, how we consume media. More generally, as consumption of media increasingly skews digital, it’s predicted by 2022 that online videos will make up more than 82 percent of consumer digital consumption. We’re seeing every aspect of online media now embracing video, and in fact, consumers are reportedly spending nearly half an hour more a day watching video content than last year. For publishers, the question isn’t “shall we use video?” But how and what form of video should we use? So, how can you harness the power of video for storytelling?

Keep it authentic

For consumption and distribution of content, video is tremendously powerful for publishers. It ultimately increases engagement, and drives a deeper connection with readers. Authentic video content cannot be undervalued as the key to telling powerful stories. We’re seeing a shift in focus to online content, meaning publishers are fighting for increased engagement numbers to counteract the decline in print production.

Amidst the heightened competition for attention, video provides a level of authenticity for an audience, visually and subjectively depicting an event as it happened. Embedding a video into an article provides a holistic view for the reader, bringing to life the words on the page, and enhancing the engagement.

According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer, concerns about fake news are still prevalent among global audiences, with 67 percent of respondents worried about false and inaccurate information being spread about COVID-19. By incorporating footage into news and current affairs content, the viewer is given access to events as they unfold, minimising concerns of fake reporting, which ultimately leads to building trust with the publication.

Throughout 2020, due to the pandemic, broadcasters and publishers have relied more heavily on user generated content (UGC) to report on real-life events. Globally, the Black Lives Matter protests were largely publicised by footage taken on mobile phones by individuals. By using this footage, readers are brought directly into the action. Another benefit for publishers — large budgets aren’t required to obtain impactful, high-quality content, as the focus has shifted towards authenticity. At Shutterstock, we recently launched Editorial Video; a new collection that consists of over 250,000 editorial clips to match the impressive increase in video popularity from consumers. Publishers and content creators can utilize this extensive archive to enhance their video strategies, and ultimately, build a successful revenue stream.

Embrace the relationship with social

There is no doubt video on social is popular. Recent research tells us that 82 percent of Twitter users watch the video content that appears on their feeds. Only this year, we have seen video based apps, such as TikTok, hugely increase in popularity. With the online world fully embracing video, publishers are now taking note.

Social and video are like gin and tonic: a winning combination. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat have become the norm for publishers to directly contact customers. For example, the likes of The Sun, Daily Mail and Hello connect with consumers on Snapchat in a quick and easy way via Stories. Each platform offers a unique opportunity, and publishers should consider each of these platforms’ differences. On Facebook, 85 percent of video is viewed without sound, and those watching video content tend to lose concentration after eight seconds.

In response to this, publishers need to ensure they understand consumer nuances. Having video on your landing page can increase conversion, but when leveraging these videos on social, publishers need to consider: should this video have sound? Should subtitles be added for silent viewing? And most importantly, how do we tell our story within the viewers’ attention span? To best amplify authentic content, and to tell the most engaging story, publishers must understand the specific benefits for platforms and find a balance for the consumer.

Have a video strategy

For video to be a successful revenue stream for publishers, knowing your audience is critical. Adopting an analytics platform to understand what content your audience engages with will provide publishers with the vital information to develop a successful strategy. Agility is key, and publishers should utilize metrics to understand the content that best resonates. 

Knowledge is power. Recent research from Reuters and the University of Oxford found that younger people prefer to engage with articles that are easy to consume, and are more visual. This study shows that when targeting a younger audience, video should take the lead. Research like this provides helpful insight for strategy development.

The diversification of your content depends upon who you’re looking to reach. If your endgame is to reach millions and go viral, then perhaps you would think about the creativity and innovation which you can apply to the video. Once this has all been thought through, then it’s time to build your strategy and start focusing on how this content will be created. Knowing your audience, knowing what and how they like to consume, and how they like to share is paramount for success.

Changes in consumer habits have accelerated during COVID-19, with more of us spending time on our mobile phones or online. This has also propelled the value of video content, and the importance of transparency and authenticity when telling a story. What we are witnessing now is only the beginning, and it will continue to provide vast opportunities for publishers as we navigate the new normal. 

Candice Murray
VP Editorial, Shutterstock

Shutterstock is an international provider of stock photography, stock footage, stock music, and editing tools; it is headquartered in New York City. Founded in 2003, Shutterstock maintains a library of 200 million royalty-free stock photos, vector graphics, and illustrations, with around 10 million video clips and music tracks available for licensing.