Using video on social media can be a great way to reach new customers, but many SMEs are not sure of the best way to do it. We asked over 250 marketing professionals who work with video what works for them.
What we will cover
Video marketing has become an attractive option for small to midsize-enterprises (SMEs). The cost of creating content has decreased dramatically as high-quality cameras and software have become more accessible. At the same time, social media has made it easy to reach any audience with videos that they can watch anywhere, on almost any internet-enabled device.
But video marketing is a new and rapidly changing discipline. Best practices are shifting all the time, social media platforms rise and fall, and audience expectations can change as quickly as the seasons.
To understand more about how companies are using video in 2023, we surveyed 266 marketing professionals who work with video in Canada. We wanted to learn more about how they’re using video in their social media marketing, what role it plays in their business overall, and what they have learned so far. Our analysis in part 1 looks mainly at organic video (i.e. video that companies do not pay to promote). In part 2, we dig deeper into paid video advertising and explore emerging concepts like generative AI. You can scroll down to the bottom of this article for a full methodology.
How are companies using organic video on social media in 2023?
74% of the marketing professionals surveyed say that their company posts organic video content on social media platforms, and this can take many forms, from 10-second loops based on the latest trending dances, to 30-minute how-to videos. For the rest of this article, when we refer to "video marketers" or "respondents" we are referring specifically to this group of marketing professionals whose company posts organic video content.
Among this group, most (87%) are creating original organic content, but a majority are also producing videos in response to trends. These include viral sounds and dances (63%), hashtags (60%), and challenges (52%). Many (44%) also create live video content.
Those producing original organic video content worked across a wide variety of formats. Most (74%) use explainer videos, attention-grabbing content (71%), and event-related videos (67%) in their social media marketing, as well as how-tos (55%) and customer testimonials (52%).
As well as what brands are publishing on social media, it is also important to consider where they are posting it. Facebook and Instagram remain the dominant social media networks for video marketing —both organic and paid— followed by TikTok and then YouTube. This makes sense from a user-base perspective, as Facebook is still the nation’s most popular social media site by far. The growth of TikTok is notable —this Chinese-owned app was only launched to international markets in 2017 and has now become more popular among video marketers than the long-established video-first site YouTube, according to our data.
Social media platforms require unique approaches
Each social network has its idiosyncrasies. The interface and experience are different on each one, and this fosters different behaviours and content. Companies have learned to tailor their approach for each social network accordingly.
Broadly speaking, companies who post organic video tend to do so almost daily on TikTok, then progressively less frequently on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. LinkedIn and YouTube had the tendency for least frequent posting. It should be noted that only those participants who said they use each network were asked about their posting frequency on it.
The engagement success that marketers see for videos of various lengths differed by social network, though this may not come as a surprise to those familiar with the platforms. TikTok and Instagram appear to be the best place for very short videos of 30 seconds or less. Marketers see success on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for slightly longer videos between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. While YouTube is good for videos above 2 minutes, and even better for videos longer than 4 minutes. Of course, this only describes a broad tendency, and all these platforms can be used for successful marketing of a wide range of video content depending on marketers’ needs.
That said, respondents rated one platform head and shoulders above the rest. 57% said TikTok was ‘very valuable’ to their company for organic video content. 43% said the same about YouTube, followed by Instagram (39%), LinkedIn (37%), Twitter (29%) and Facebook (27%). Overall, respondents were positive about all these platforms for organic video, with all rated at moderately or very valuable by at least 60% of those who use them for video marketing purposes.
What types of video work well on social media?
SMEs that are interested in video marketing may be wondering what type of organic content generates the best results. Those who use it tell us that videos based on trends do significantly less well than original content. Live videos and duets fare even worse, according to those who post them.
Respondents who work with organic video also believed that the look of a video was the most important factor in its success — ranking as more important than its tone, what trends it aligns with, or what time of day it’s posted.
Of course, content is also vitally important to a video’s success, and the social media professionals in our survey use a wide variety of this in the organic videos they publish. Popular ideas include product or service demos, company staff, tutorials and tips, and influencer testimonials.
The tone of an organic video might not make it a success on its own, but getting this wrong can certainly break a video. Inappropriate tone on social media can quickly backfire on a brand, so it’s important to strike the right note. Different respondents in our survey showed that they use different tones, but good marketers know that audience, context, and message will help determine the right tone for the right video. The most frequently used tones in our survey were.
- Educational/informative (74%)
- Inspirational/affirming (57%)
- Hype-worthy/energizing (49%)
- Humorous (48%)
- Ambient/calming (30%)
The growing influence of influencers
Online influencers have cropped up as social media has become embedded into society, and they are now an important part of marketing strategy for many SMEs. 46% of organic video users feature influencer testimonials in their content.
As the name suggests, influencers are people who can persuade others to buy a product through recommendations or endorsement via social media. They usually have large followings, often across various platforms, and many specialize in a certain area such as fashion or interiors. Some influencers make a living from doing this, so companies will reimburse them for endorsing or mentioning their products —either in cash or with free products.
Influencer marketing is a dedicated discipline in itself these days, with specialist influencer marketing software and agencies offering to broker deals between brands and social media stars. However, many (72%) of the professionals we surveyed who use organic video said that influencers have featured their product or service on social media without having a formal partnership in place, and 96% of the time it was a positive mention.
Similarly, most respondents who work with organic video (82%) have also received mentions from their customers on social media. Again, these were positive in 96% of cases.
Boosting views on organic video
In the absence of paid promotion, marketers revealed several tactics their company uses to boost the reach and discoverability of their organic videos. Four major ones stand out:
- Posting content at the time(s) of day that suit your target audience (69%)
- Adding closed captioning to videos (automatic or manual) (67%)
- Cross-posting the same content to other social media channels (64%)
- Applying SEO techniques to content (e.g., including relevant keywords or hashtags in post captions) (63%)
Although widely practiced, respondents also said that posting content at a certain time of day was far from the biggest factor in a video’s success online, and that a video’s content and quality was far more important.
In addition, videos tend to take a while before they reach maximum engagement. Just over half (51%) of organic video users said it takes a few days to peak, while a quarter said theirs take a few weeks. This can depend on the platform, content, and campaign, of course, but only 7% of respondents said that their expected time-to-peak-engagement varied.
Key takeaway: Although video marketing on social media is a new and constantly changing discipline, the data here reveals that it may be becoming less of an art and more of a science. Practitioners have proven tactics across platforms and know what, when, and where to post their content for best results. There are many tools to help social media professionals in this area:
The latest intelligence for organic video marketers
The marketing professionals in our survey have revealed several tips for success that SMEs may want to take forward into their own campaigns.
TikTok is used by nearly half of organic marketers. This, and its impressive satisfaction rates, are compelling reasons for any company to investigate the platform. Influencer marketing also seems to be widespread, but brands should tread cautiously before they commit to any partnerships.
The fact that so many in this survey were able to answer detailed questions about social media performance indicates that benchmarking is in widespread use. Tracking how videos are being received across channels ensures that marketing budget is spent in the most efficient way, and this is made easier with the appropriate software.
GetApp’s data for this study was gathered through an online survey conducted in June-July 2023 in which we surveyed 266 people residing in Canada from all regions in the country. The sample of participants is representative of the population of Canada regarding aspects of age and gender, and the criteria for selecting participants are as follows:
- 18-65 years of age.
- Works in marketing/advertisement or an executive management position in a company with at least 2 employees.
- Must perform one or multiple of the following tasks in their role: social media content creation/management, paid advertising, or digital marketing.
- The company they work for must create video content and use one or more of the following platforms for video marketing purposes: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, or YouTube.