Big data, 360 video and more: a preview of the biggest video trends of 2021
This is an overview of what’s new in video in 2021, what continues to improve from 2020, and how to use each rising technology.
Slow Clap Productions is a San Francisco-based creative video production company that helps brands like GitHub, Blue Shield of California, and Capital One use video to its full potential.
2021 feels like the year of the comeback, but in video, it’s been an uninterrupted campaign of internet domination. While marketers continue to shout, “brands must use video today or risk everything!”, video marketing itself is not risky. Because in 2020, people consumed a ton of video, and data gives us a great picture into what will continue to work in 2021.
This means you have more data than ever to create the right video for your favorite audience. But here’s the twist: 2021 may be the year to let others tell your brand’s story, and get better results. And not only are influencers bringing audiences into familiar company – more brands will bring audiences into their world using relatively new technology, including one that used to just be for people who “gotta catch ‘em all.”
Here’s how that will look.
Artificial Intelligence will improve audience matching
In 2021, “big data” will continue to improve video effectiveness by showing targeted videos to the right audience.
With more consumer data available every second, algorithms can increasingly predict which videos will garner more likes, subscribes, and sales.
This is already the strategy for YouTube and Facebook ads – but how about emails, popups, or celebrities who show up in a 360-degree virtual space?
HOW TO USE IT
- Use platforms with data management and analytics, like Wistia, Google Analytics, Brid.TV, or Hubspot
- Create demographic tiers based on variables native to your audience
- Create A/B versions of videos or CTA landing pages and see how they compare
But influencer marketing remains more trusted
Influencer marketing is still on an upward trend. With ads everywhere – and soon to appear in immersive 3D worlds (more on that later) – advertisement fatigue is massive.
But humans continue to know, like, and trust each other – even online. We also value authority. And that’s where everyday people become influencers – by being likeable and knowledgeable.
YouTube changed the face of video, from entertainment to news to yes, even marketing. It’s possible to learn to fix your own car, build your own computer, and know which boots will last the longest – thanks to helpful video content.
But the hard-to-replicate element is trust. Humans value free and helpful information, and they really value it from other humans who act, look, and think like them. And in this age, they earn more credibility if they have nothing to gain by sharing that information.
The future of credibility may be in “brand advocacy,” where ordinary (but trusted!) people make videos about your products and services. Their opinions are the difference between being the giant evil corporation and the community business people know and trust.
HOW TO USE IT
- Make it easy for influencers to test and review your products and services
- Offer partnerships with influencers
- Don’t ask those influencers to exclusively use your products and services – they will lose their trust with the audience
Virtual conferences become a weekly event
Just as live streams are the influencer’s sold-out concert, virtual conferences are multiplying. You’ve probably been to at least one. A virtual trade show. A Q&A session with an expert. A discussion group.
But even in live streams, it’s good to step away from talking heads when you simply have to “show” your audience what you can do for them. Last year, Slow Clap made a testimonial video for Slack Frontiers 2020, showing the audience how fast and effortlessly they can both gain momentum and pivot with the right communication platform.
We also helped with Adobe MAX 2020, creating a fast and fun showcase of creatives empowered by Adobe – while staying focused on how accessible creative work is for anyone, anywhere.
HOW TO USE VIRTUAL CONFERENCES:
- Choose a theme based on what’s trending in your industry
- Build attendance with a full-fledged campaign
- Protect the event with a great video and tech team
- Bring in well-known experts as keynote speakers
- Repurpose great talks and Q&As as content after the event
360-degree video grows more accessible
360 video is where the audience can move through and look in any direction. And like The Matrix, sometimes you just have to see it to understand what it means:
- Meeting lions up close from your couch (National Geographic)
- Touring a magical candy world (Oreo)
- Bathing in the northern lights (Thomson Holidays)
And some applications not yet created:
- Virtual events: feel like you’re there with the live attendees
- Movie promotion: let the audience explore the asteroid belt from a space pod
- Education: learn to watch the pitcher’s tells in a virtual baseball training
- Travel: Following along as explorers dive an ancient shipwreck
- Health Care: Learning the layout of a hospital before you visit
- Home Decoration: tour the house’s Christmas decorations
360 video is not new for 2021, but it’s reaching its adolescence, and it’s growing muscles. Once the exclusive realm of video games, 360 is now less expensive, and therefore more accessible to imaginative businesses everywhere. That’s because the technology continues to decrease in price. Though if you want super high resolution, you’ll want to hire a team like Slow Clap.
Augmented reality is now more than just a game
AR is the converse of 360 – instead of placing a user in the brand’s world, it places the product in the user’s world.
Augmented reality was, for most, seeing a Pokemon on their kid’s phone as they walk through the park. In 2021, it’ll be a lot more than cartoons, and many of us will see it through our glasses, too.
While not strictly “video,” augmented reality nonetheless brings products, services, and education into perception in a novel way. And for the B2B environment, this can mean ideas like:
- Teaching anatomy and medicine – like Case Western Reserve University
- Training employees, like where to place objects when a shelf is empty
- Seeing if office furniture fits (and looks good) in a preview
- Identifying an out-of-place part or product instantly – just point your phone at it and find out what department it belongs in
HOW TO USE AUGMENTED REALITY:
- Start with an idea. What can you bring into your customer’s world that they want or need?
- You’ll have to build an app – or integrate it into an existing app
- You’ll need 3D footage or a 3D animated model of the objects
Education videos are still a tried-and-true video entry point
Educational videos continue to make up a huge portion of YouTube viewership. While it would seem that every “how” has been answered on YouTube, it makes lot of sense for any brand to find out what questions their customers ask most, and make content about it, because:
- It positions you as a thought leader
- It creates value, which builds trust
- And it drives inbound traffic to your brand
For example, RepairPal created simple, professional how-tos that, frankly, anybody could have made with a shaky phone camera. But in both content for businesses and customers, they contrasted themselves as an organized and reliable source for repair.
HOW TO USE EDUCATIONAL CONTENT:
- Find the most-asked questions about your product or service
- Write a script – or consult a scriptwriter
- Shoot the video yourself – or hire a production company
- Upload it to the platforms your audience uses
- Name, tag, and keyword it effectively
Public platforms continue to attract different audiences
Your platform is wherever your audience already is. But odds are you’ll use more than one platform.
YouTube remains the biggest host and curator for video on the internet. YouTube is largely about sitting down with people from around the world as they share their perspectives.
As such, traditional commercials don’t fare well unless run as ads – but educational content still makes up around half of YouTube views. And of course, reality shows and influencer vlogs are doing just fine too.
One more reason to use YouTube: videos hosted there can greatly boost blog posts on the same topic.
Tik Tok grew tremendously in 2020, in spite of legal restrictions. It is deliberately short-form and works well for younger audiences.
Tik Tok doesn’t yet have the filtering of older platforms (YouTube), which allows disruptive newcomers to kick down doors with clever and trendy ideas.
LinkedIn now has 700 million users. LinkedIn’s culture is deliberately workplace-safe, but if you can balance the platitudes with a dose of real emotion, you can build an audience.
If you’re a B2B brand, pay special attention: LinkedIn is the first place many businesses turn for their needs. It’s where their partners go, their audience goes, and often where it’s safe to spend a little work time visiting.
A note: share your videos by uploading them directly to LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s algorithm prioritizes natively hosted videos, and we’ve seen view counts as much as 4x higher just by uploading directly to LinkedIn.
Facebook video is worth prioritizing if most of your audience is already on Facebook. They’re more likely to see videos hosted on Facebook in their feed. And Facebook is, naturally, a more social platform than YouTube, leading to more shares and likes.
That said, Facebook’s video tab suffers from weak recommendations – geared more toward total views than the appropriate audience.
Instagram, an influencer’s best friend, lowers the bar to admission for brands of any size. But it remains primarily oriented toward B2C.
As video grows, private platforms help leaders inspire
Sometimes it’s just faster – and more impactful – to send a video to your employees, colleagues, or coworkers.
This is why internal platforms like Wistia, Brighteon, Vimeo, BombBomb, and others are strong options for keeping your messages away from prying ears.
Pants optional, but lights are now dress code
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, video chat, complete with screen sharing, grew exponentially in 2020. And while we can’t stay inside forever, it will take some time before in-person meetings become a regular part of life again.
For some companies that may never happen. That’s where having a video-chat friendly setup makes you look and sound as professional as you are.
A good web camera is nice – but bright and even lighting and a good quality microphone are better gifts for your audience and your personal brand.
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT VIDEO CHAT EQUIPMENT
- Search YouTube for options within your budget and technical needs
- Get lights of a matching color temperature
- Consider what’s the best space to chat, for both noisiness and light
Shoppable video will be assessed for effectiveness
The fewer clicks between the consumer and a product, the easier – and more likely – it is for them to buy. So why not let them click right there in the video?
As more customers shop online due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as generational trends and preferences, this – and an integration with 360 environments – could become a major market share. And for those of us who live miles away from our favorite stores, this could be a new form of freedom.
But shoppable videos’ effectiveness is still a question mark. Big data will help with that, but given that this is standard in Instagram, there is reason to be confident that shoppable videos will continue to rise.
HOW TO USE SHOPPABLE VIDEOS
- If your brand is a lifestyle, it’s a no-brainer to give tours of an iconic scene with products they can buy
- If your sales lean on an influencer, let them showcase your products with affiliate links
- Make videos about your best-selling products first
Principles that haven’t changed in 2021
Focus on your customer, not your company
The highest-ranking and hottest-selling videos – be it content or advertisement – are stories where your customer is the hero, and you are merely a guide.
This can be an ad about your customer saving the day with a better fire extinguisher, or content teaching them how to fireproof a garage. But videos about your company’s greatness should be saved for the people who make your company great.
Value is still king
As in, content that shares helpful information will outlast and, over time, outperform the best ads. You still need ads – but even those should focus on your customer’s journey.
So when you begin planning your videos, here are some highly successful examples to draw from:
- Hubspot shows how to use Instagram Stories for business
- Random House Publishing shows “How to break habits” as an indirect promo for a bestselling book
- Hootsuite shows How to run your first Facebook Live
- NASA stays relevant – and funded – by sharing its discoveries
Get started. Today.
Yes, earlier we insisted you have time to make good decisions. That’s true. But this next step should go into your schedule for this week.
If you don’t yet use video in your marketing, figure out what video your audience wants most. Then set that video in motion. And if you need help making it, contact us.
Hook ‘em from the start:
In your video thumbnail, show them what they can expect in the easiest to understand way possible. If you can, make it so a 4th grader will understand.
Then in the first 15 seconds of the video, make it clear that you’re going to deliver on the promise that brought them there. “Today I’m going to show you how to hook your audience” is a lot more trustworthy than an open loop (“later I’ll show you how to hook your audience, but first let me tell you about SuperCorp”).
Make your videos searchable
Google still can’t “read” videos, but it can read transcripts. And while YouTube provides automatic transcribing, it’s often inaccurate – which is a problem for Google and for your audience. To counter this, include captions whenever you can. Services like Rev make it easy and inexpensive.
Stay in the conversation.
In our crowded mindspace, people need constant and value-rich reminders that you’re great at what you do. So make a list of the rest of the videos your audience needs, and schedule them to launch at set intervals. And then, create a plan to repurpose your content.
Most of the time, keep it short
YouTube prioritizes long videos because they can then show more ads. And for some content, a comprehensive approach is best. Or when you want to hang out with your fans for a long livestream.
But most video is better short. Your audience will stick around if you don’t waste their time. Executives prefer shorter video, too.
Don’t use autoplay in your ads
Google knows it irritates most audiences – and they continue to hunt and kill it. It’s better to blend your marketing into value-rich content than to shout at people while they look up dinner recipes.
Conclusion: try something bold in 2021
Whether it’s partnering with an influencer, or investing in Augmented Reality, or experimenting with 360 videos, or just creating good educational videos about your products and services, 2021 is a great time to start using video. And if you need help with any project, contact Slow Clap.