Can Twitter Have Facebook-Like Success With Video?

Chris CrumSocial Media

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Video has become huge for Facebook, and Twitter is hoping it can follow a similar path. Autoplay has certainly lent itself well to Facebook's success, and it sounds like Twitter is about to follow suit.

While Twitter video is still new to users, the company introduced Promoted Video for advertisers back in August after months of testing a Twitter video card with one-tap viewing. At the time, Twitter said tests showed that tweets containing native Twitter video generate better engagement and more video views than before.

That engagement is about to become even stronger if a new report from AdWeek is any indication. It says that the company is meeting with top ad execs at SXSW to talk up its video capabilities, and that these talks will "possibly" include an autoplay option. The report, which cites "several marketers scheduled to powwow with Twitter reps," says:

Autoplay video is at the top of advertisers' wish lists for Twitter, according to an agency executive headed to SXSW. Twitter is still working on video that automatically starts in a user's stream as he or she scrolls down, according to multiple sources.

Twitter has already launched its native video product. Ad insiders said it still plans to introduce an autoplay option that will enable six-second clips—including preroll ads—to automatically play before the user clicks for the rest of the video, two sources said.

In December, we heard that Twitter was torn on whether or not to offer up autoplay videos. Since then, however, we've learned just how much success Facebook has seen.

Facebook adopted autopplay videos back in the fall of 2013. In January, the company revealed that the number of video posts per person had increased 75% globally and 94% in the US over the past year, while the amount of video from people and brands in News Feed increased 3.6x year-over-year.

While you certainly can't attribute Facebook's video growth to autoplay alone, you'd have to imagine that it has played a role. When the images are moving, the videos get your attention as you're scrolling. That's probably why brands are now posting more Facebook videos than YouTube videos on Facebook. Look at how drastically that has changed over the past year.

That data is from SocialBakers, which according to the new AdWeek report, also says that while 82% of brands posting videos on Twitter share YouTube clips compared to 16% who share videos from Twitter or Twitter-owned Vine, Twitter and Vine videos account for about 70% of retweets and favorites generated by all video on Twitter. That's huge for Twitter's video platforms, and autoplay Twitter videos should only fuel that fire.

Last month, AdWeek reported that JCPenney's 4 cent (per view) video ads on Twitter "could threaten YouTube's longtime dominance". It shared a comment from the company:

"Natively placing the video on Twitter offered a seamless way for consumers to view and share the content. That ease of use helped make Twitter the top platform for views," Sean Ryan, director of social media at JCPenney, wrote in a report about the campaign. "While we could have promoted a link to the video on YouTube, the native placement was much more effective in cost per view."

Of course we're not just talking about promtoed videos here.

In January, Twitter unleashed its native video offering, enabling iOS users to capture, edit, and share videos from the Twitter app. It has since rolled the feature out on Android.

“We designed our camera to be simple to use so you can capture and share life’s most interesting moments as they happen,” said product director Jinen Kamdar. “In just a few taps you can add a video to unfolding conversations, share your perspective of a live event, and show your everyday moments instantly, without ever having to leave the app. Viewing and playing videos is just as simple: videos are previewed with a thumbnail and you can play them with just one tap.”

Twitter has always been about mobile first, but the company should really consider adding the video feature to the desktop web experience as well. It certainly can't hurt to give users as many ways to use it as possible. Users may wish to record themselves with their web cams or capture video from their screens to share with followers.

The potential viewability for Twitter video is only going to increase. Last week, Twitter launched video embeds, which will allow Twitter videos to be posted all over the web just like YouTube videos. You could already embed tweets, including tweets with videos in them, but now, Twitter video can be used as a standalone piece of content.

But that's only one of the ways viewability is likely to increase. As you may have heard, Twitter and Google have gotten back into bed with each other, and soon, Google will have full access to indexing tweets in real time. Now we're talking the potential for relevant videos from Twitter to appear highly in Google's search results almost as soon as they're posted. This could be particularly effective for breaking news. This by the way, should instantly make Google itself better, provided it executes the deal well.

A recent study found that even before the deal is implemented, Google appears to be more heavily indexing tweets wit images in them. It stands to reason that it will place some emphasis on video as well.

Twitter has a well documented issue with user growth, and more search visibility means more people landing on Twitter (which means happier investors). If Twitter video becomes a significant part of this (as it should if Google doesn't discriminate against it in favor of its own YouTube content - which does seem like a possibility) it should make Twitter's video views skyrocket.

Twitter's improvements to search should also factor heavily into Twitter's video views making for a more evegreen experience to complement the real-time nature of sharing and consuming on Twitter. In November, Twitter gave users access to every public tweet from the past 8 years with its search feature. Search is of major importance for online video. I'm sure you've heard YouTube touted as the second biggest search engine in the world a time or two.

Still, Twitter will continue to be thought of as a place for real-time information first and foremost, and that will continue to be extended to video. The company just bought a video streaming startup called Pericope, which hasn't launched yet, but is said to be similar to another streaming app for Twitter that's gaining popularity - Meerkat.

The Verge called Meerkat the "little app that's turning live video into a big deal again."

TechCrunch called it "the livestreaming app Twitter should have built."

The app lets you start a livestream, tweet the link out and alert your followers of it. The video disappears when it's over, unless you save it yourself. Between Meerkat, which is suddenly getting a lot of attention, and Twitter's new acquisition, it's likely that we're going to be seeing a lot of livestreaming from tweets.

Again, it will be interesting to see how this factors into the Google deal.

If nothing else, video could go a long way toward improving engagement on Twitter, which for many users, has been significantly lackluster.

Images via Twitter

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.