Who Will Be the King of the Social Video Mountain?

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When I was a kid growing up on the East Coast, it wasn’t unusual for the snow banks on the school playground to be 8-12 feet high. One of the games we kids played in the show was called “king of the mountain” – the idea of the game is if you could knock the guy at the top of the snow hill off, you would assume his position of king until someone else came along that could knock you off.

In the social video world, YouTube is king of the mountain, but Facebook and Twitter have dreams of knocking YouTube off its pedestal.  Combined with short-form video platforms like Instagram and Vine, it is clear that YouTube is not the only predominant video-sharing media in today’s social media landscape.

Even though it may seem like online videos – which are a big part of our daily lives – have been around forever, it’s may seem surprising that online videos are in fact fairly recent. YouTube, the world’s largest video-sharing site, reaches its 10th anniversary this year. What is that in Internet years?

Over the past decade, companies’ use of online video for brand marketing purposes has changed.  Whereas businesses used to simply repost their TV commercials online, companies are now increasingly creating content specifically to speak to their audience online. As online video, especially for corporate marketing, has grown more and more popular, video-sharing options have proliferated. This in turn has changed the status quo of YouTube being the main website for videos.

YouTube, launched in 2005, hasn’t had a lot of real competitors over the years until recently, when other social media sites started placing greater importance on posting online videos.

Facebook is an important threat to YouTube. Facebook reported that there are 3 billion videos viewed on its site each day, amounting to a little more than three videos per person per day.  In addition, many YouTube videos – business-related and otherwise – are shared through Facebook.  Video is important to Facebook book because all the video sharing make the paid advertisements not seem out of place.

While Facebook overlaps with YouTube’s niche in several ways, YouTube still has several advantages. Videos on Facebook are not searchable in the same way they are on YouTube. Personally, I know when I have a problem that I don’t want to read about to solve, I will go directly to YouTube to see if someone has created a video to help me solve my problem.  Facebook also doesn’t pay creators to include advertising in their videos, which gives no incentive for creators.   Where as YouTube has many creators who make a living by creating content and posting it on YouTube.

Twitter has also been jumping on the video-sharing band-wagon. In January they added the ability to record and edit video right from the Twitter app, with the goal of promoting online communication on the platform.  Creating a better visual experience makes sense, since Instagram has so much success with photos and video.  Twitter accommodates up to 30 seconds of video.  Although you can’t upload videos outside of the app, iPhone users can upload videos from their camera roll.  My guess is that Twitter will update and improve its video-sharing capabilities as the year rolls on, offering potential opportunities for brands to be early adopters of this new feature.  While Twitter isn’t ready to be king of the mountain yet, it appears that they have a plan and will ascend the mountain step by step.

I am hesitant to mention Vimeo because while it is popular, its niche is primarily an artist’s community. Vimeo was founded in 2004, and though some video creators are very loyal to the platform it doesn’t have a mass audience.  When Vimeo launched the ability to share HD video in 2007, there was hope that Vimeo would rise to surpass YouTube, but it never caught on.  It is still a very good service, but it may not be the best place for your corporate video unless this is a community that you are trying to reach.  Even as a third-party video player on your company website, Vimeo doesn’t provide analytics and other features that are as robust as some of the other third-party players.

YouTube is still king of the social video mountain for now, but they certainly have lost a lot of eyeballs to these other platforms in just the last year.  It will be interesting to see whether YouTube can find a way to stay on top, or if the site will eventually lose its predominance to the range of emerging alternatives.

Where is your company posting your online video and having good success?

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