Two billion. This is the number of hits that YouTube gets in a day, as not only a viewing platform but as a search tool too – making it the second largest search engine in the world (after Google).
But why has YouTube become such a popular platform? And why are we turning to it for information? Put simply, and to refer to that well known phrase “there’s an app for that”, there now appears to be a video for it too – broadening the way we are communicating and granting people access to content that powerfully informs, entertains and even shocks.
Video & society
However, the fascination with YouTube, or (more importantly) video, extends far beyond the realms of needing to be entertained and informed. Its popularity has derived from something far more highbrow – a shift in society and our behaviours.
To demonstrate this, you only need to think about the way we operate today and how we grapple with time and our desire to have more of it. This idea is made ever more prevalent when considering life’s inordinate pressures – rushing from social engagement to social engagement; working longer hours than ever before (spending 5 hours more at work each week than our EU colleagues); and having an increasing reliance on technology, meaning we never really “switch off” and have no time to think freely and creatively. The result? We have become a time poor generation that simply cannot afford to spend huge amounts of time on understanding and searching for information, an idea, a product or a service.
So, when stepping back and considering these pressures, it’s easy to understand why the popularity of video has increased: it suits our lifestyle and quenches our desire to get information quickly, concisely and in a way that engages us wherever we may be.
Video & business
Whilst the idea of using video is by no means a new concept, corporations have only recently started to embrace it and taken note of stakeholders’ need to engage with and understand businesses through this channel – a notion that was reflected in BergHind Joseph’s 2012 Global Players study, which highlighted a marked shift in the way brands (be it B2B or B2C) were communicating. It was here that a number of companies demonstrated a willingness to invest in professionally-shot video footage as a realisation had been made: stakeholders wanted to quickly understand what an organisations’ offer really was, what it stood for, and the position it took when it came to things such as social responsibility. Video therefore lends itself to fulfilling stakeholders’ demands, with some organisations doing it very creatively:
- HSBC is intelligently using video within its ‘in the future’ campaign to give insight into the future of business via a series of short films and, more importantly, how stakeholders can prepare for the future by taking action now in order to reap the rewards later.
- AXA is using video to promote and share ideas from their ‘Global Forum of Longevity’ – an initiative that looks to share knowledge between experts and the general public to create a better understanding around the mechanisms and issues that increased life expectancy will create in the future.
AXA’s videos successfully discuss this intricate subject through their dedicated ‘longevity forum’ microsite where they use a series of videos to discuss a number of ‘longevity related’ topics – from the ageing populations in China and India to how AXA is developing solutions so that longevity isn’t ‘experienced as an inevitable fate, but rather as a source of opportunity’.
The fact that these brands (and others) are actively talking about such complex social issues and, more importantly, using video to do it, reinforces the notion mentioned earlier that society and the way we behave and consume information has shifted.
To affirm this notion, you only need to look back at business communication ten to twenty years ago to realise this – a time (unlike today) where few of us would have cared or striven to understand the intricacies of a business’ CSR policy, and when we most certainly wouldn’t have let it play a role in our purchasing decisions.
This way of operating was primarily driven by the way brands functioned – they were translucent rather than transparent – giving people a glimpse of the truth whilst still maintaining a tight grip on how they wanted to be perceived; a level of control that meant we simply trusted the information put in front of us.
Fast forward to today, however, and the ‘information age’ has created a new, savvier type of stakeholder who demands communication to be transparent, authentic and engaging – ideas that raise the efficacy of video.
Video in the smaller business
It’s not just larger corporations that are using video to communicate with stakeholders, and it’s important to realise that this communication tool no longer sits with companies that have big marketing budgets. The accessibility to video and demand for it now means it’s a viable (and affordable) communication platform for smaller organisations too.
This is reflected by the level of support available today within the market: from assistance in developing a compelling story for your video, to support for driving traffic to a video after the ‘final cut’. Video is no longer a ‘misunderstood’ communication tool that resides in the big broadcasting houses or of ad agencies. It is now accessible to all.
Want to find out more about the power of video in business communication?
Watch our recent video series on ‘Why use video for business communication?’; ‘What ingredients make a great business video?’ and ‘What returns can video offer a business?’
Ian Brownhill: Ian has over 20 years’ experience of working in research, project management and strategic leadership roles for a range of organisations including Which?, London Transport and the Prince of Wales’s Charities Group.
BergHind Joseph: BergHind Joseph is a creative communication agency that uses design, research and strategic thinking across all digital, print and experiential media, to help ambitious businesses build their reputation