How Social Platforms are Prioritizing Video

How Social Platforms are Prioritizing Video

Over the past few years nearly every channel, even those that were founded on still images and text posts, have started prioritizing video in their feeds. Let’s take a look at the tangible moves three major channels have made and how these changes can provide evidence that video is the smart move for a competitive social strategy.


As a founding social network, Facebook often sets trends and the ad money inevitably follows because a large portion of the world’s population can be counted amongst its users. Besides the fact that video is prioritized in the newsfeed over other types of content (video uploaded natively to the platform performs a full 10x better than YouTube links), Facebook has also introduced several other changes to make video more prominent on the network and more attractive to advertisers.

Facebook has implemented Live broadcasting capabilities to allow users to capture events and create real-time engagements around streaming video content. They’ve also implemented a stories feature (we had some feelings about that one) to allow users to capture and share a time-stamped digital scrapbook of still and video content.  

From an advertising perspective, Facebook has begun to offer mid-roll ad placement in videos on the platform. They’re working to increase the number of eyes on a video ad by letting video ads play automatically in the newsfeed, hopefully catching unsuspecting scrollers as they peruse.

Maybe the biggest shift towards video is the network’s new “Watch” tab. This is Facebook’s answer to YouTube. It features original programming, trending videos and even “watch parties” designed to facilitate engagement around video content in real time. Business Insider’s Social Video Report notes that, like YouTube, “Facebook is funding some premium programming to help launch the new tab and plans to spend $1 billion on original content in 2018, but ultimately its model will be oriented toward revenue sharing with creators.” So not only is Facebook making it more appealing for users to share organic video, but they're also poised to offer branded partnerships to the creators who are making great video on the platform. 


It seems silly to talk about YouTube prioritizing video since that is the only format the network has ever served, but they are also changing the way they do business in order to attract advertisers. The trend is clear: content’s reign as king is stronger now than ever. Business Insider Social Video Report shows that YouTube is planning to “pour hundreds of millions of dollars into more than 40 original shows and films over the next year. And it will produce six original series for its free site, as well as ramp up investments for its subscription service, YouTube Red.”

This demonstrates the inseparability of quality content and advertising dollars. It is not enough to just make video-- it has to be a compelling video that people want to watch and engage with. That's where social influencers will become indispensable-- brands will want vetted video concepts with existing proven audiences so they know they're pouring their resources into concepts that are likely to be successful. 


Instagram’s forays into the video space have included the addition of a Snapchat-like stories feature, ability to live stream, and the creation of Instagram TV. (Stay tuned for LOTS more on IG TV…)  

A September article from Quartz, quoting Instagram staffers speaking at a conference, confirms what we’ve known for quite a while now… pretty pictures just won’t cut it on Instagram anymore. Basically, pretty photos don’t spark conversations… they rarely change opinions, ask hard questions or strike an emotional chord. That’s what you need to gain steam and spark engagement (and thus growth) on any social platform, but especially on Instagram.

In the article, the author points out that “conventional wisdom used to be that Instagram was where you posted your nice images for posterity, while Snapchat was where you could be more raw.”  But the success of Instagram stories has turned that theory on its ear.

Followers want to get a glimpse into the real life of a brand… not just pretty product photos. The fact is that everyone came to expect those pretty flat lays with marble countertop backdrops… so they’re just not interesting or unique anymore. Now savvy social creators need to find their niche and work hard to make sure that people are engaging with the content-- not just looking at it and smiling pleasantly to themselves. You need to be creating content that drives conversation and action; that gets followers’ fingers tapping with likes or comments. Video is increasingly the answer.  

Instagram has made changes to an algorithmic timeline feed and extended the length limit on video posted to the site. These are all steps toward prioritization of video and high-volume creators are following suit in order to remain competitive. Business Insider’s Social Video Report notes that “about one-third of all content posted by the top 30 Instagram accounts is video.”

If you’re not posting consistent video, you may be noticing your organic content slipping in the social feeds. Additionally, you might be missing out on great opportunities for branded content deals as the channels all shift toward providing advertisers access to creative partners (lots more on that topic coming soon).

With the major social channels making a marked shift toward video and content as community building exercise, it is more important than ever to have a strong video strategy in place. 

Photo by Hans Vivek on Unsplash

Creative Community Director at Snapfluence. 

There is often a pen stuck in my hair.