The television evolution of social media

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The era is here where we’d rather watch than read, especially those on social media. YouTube is readying themselves for the growth of an unlikely set of competitors, creating a world where all social networks prioritize video: both original and branded content.

I was first introduced to digital video as an intern for Blip TV, later bought by Maker Studios, which now seems like decades ago. The presence of video since then has grown to become a central part of digital platforms, even beginning to compete with traditional TV players (and I’m not even talking about the streaming services). Modern day entertainment networks like Maker Studios or Refinery 29 have created some of the largest online series and introduced influencers who grew to lead massive audiences. Social networks want to mimic a similar evolution when it comes to original video.

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As social networks strive to create their own entertainment hubs, let’s see how Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter are molding themselves for television.

Facebook sets their sights beyond YouTube

Facebook has clearly been one of the more aggressive video players of all social media, completely ridding itself the “dinosaur” stigma it once carried. To explain their video strategy in its entirety would require a General Assembly course but it’s clear now that they’re building towards an entertainment hub that rivals television for the younger demographic.

Facebook’s video strategy nets 1,055% higher share rate than YouTube, according to Venture Beat. They had high ambitions of bringing native video to the forefront, and they’ve done so with long-form videos, mid-roll advertising, live video and on-demand video partnerships to name a highlight a few initiatives. Now Facebook has plans for original shows, a roadmap led by CollegeHumor co-founder Ricky Van Veen.

Reported by Digiday’s Sahil Patel, Facebook is working towards a “spotlight module” feature that would highlight original shows and other exclusive long-form video content through it’s mobile app and it’s television apps that are soon to come.

It’s said to spotlight video series for 24 hours, only to refresh this video tab with another group of videos the following day. This module would contain original series funded by Facebook as well as their media partners in a specific set of genres: science, sports, pop culture, lifestyle, gaming, and teens. With such a focus in original long-form content, Facebook could trump not only YouTube but traditional networks as well. Soon we’ll be asking, “Hey, did you watch Facebook today?”

Snapchat’s short-form network

Snapchat have had a rough quarter when it comes to their earnings but their success in social video arguably leading the pack.

I argue all the time that Snapchat is as much of an entertainment hub than it is a social network. Although, other social media networks are just now incorporating a larger video offering, the short-form king has built with this focus from the beginning.

Snapchat is frequently refiguring it’s Discover network, with both new content and new interfaces. Those two elements work hand-in-hand, and they’re discovering (no pun intended) a platform that will build a loyal audience out of the younger demographic for the brands involved.

CNBC recently wrote that Snap paid nearly $60 million to its media partners, for context, they paid out just $10 million in 2015. If it’s any consolation, Snap manages more than 90 percent of those ad sales itself.

Snapchat has created an environment with an early push for original content through their unique format, which collectively creates the entire Snapchat experience. They initially reached out to the Hollywood Studios and since they’ve been able to offer original segments through Discover from Discovery, ABC, NBC and even the expected rival, Turner. The media conglomerate uses Snapchat as a way to increase their viewership in the digital environment and capture the loyalty of the under 25 audience

Now 40 with channels, there aren’t outlets with their own unique channels so they’ll have to brand themselves with the experience and quality of the content they offer with the goal of resonating well with this younger, mobile-centric demographic.

But kudos to Snapchat because their battle grand for the best discover stories is a content model we haven’t seen before. Only those with the best content can consume a seat at the featured stories table.

Twitter starts to stream

Twitter has been less progressive as far as video goes for social networks. Until just recently Twitter hadn’t allowed Periscope Live to be factor into their Top Trends, and they’ve yet to establish strong foundation for video content. It seems as if Twitter is positioning themselves now leverage focus on live streaming, initially with just eSports but now even Bloomberg TV.

Twitter secured a deal including 1,500 hours of Esports competition live streaming with a deal that is worth over 15 events. Esports is a thriving market expected to reach a billion dollars this year, but it’s also a space that Twitter has been successful with before.

Twitter’s biggest partnership with Bloomberg Media could be the changing the social network needed. It’ll exist as a streaming television news service that runs round-the-clock, sitting in the margin of the social network. Although without much in the original content bank, Twitter is still searching for a way to naturally incorporate video into their social environment.

Among the massive audiences of Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter, original video is not only a priority, but it’s developing into the value ad for social platforms. Each network offers a much different experience, but the race for quality original content ultimately competes for one goal, your attention.

Author: Dennis Williams

Dennis is the Content Marketing Manager at Augment, where he's active in building content to grow digital communities.