8 Social Video Insights from Social Media Week NYC

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

In our second presentation at last week’s #SMWNYC, “The Evolution of Social Video,” Adaptly Co-Founder and CEO Nikhil Sethi was joined by Jeff Taylor, Regional Product Marketing Manager at Instagram, and Ken Blom, Director of Branded Content Distribution at BuzzFeed. Check out highlights from their discussion focused on video advertising over the years, including the latest best practices.

  • Growth in video is one of the most important changes in human connection and sharing.

Jeff Taylor, Instagram: Video, which communicates ideas quickly and effectively, is earning people’s time on mobile. Video views on smartphones and tablets constitute more than half of video views, versus just 15% in 2013. Sight, sound, and motion give you the opportunity to share something immediately, in an immersive environment. Growth is going to continue: from 2015 to 2020, mobile video consumption will account for 75% of mobile data traffic.

The way video content is created, shared, and consumed has changed on platforms in the Facebook family. In the last year, there’s been 3x more video content created and shared on Facebook and a 150% increase in watch time of video on Instagram.

  • People want to share not just the epic, but also the everyday.

Taylor: In only about 6 months, more than 150 million people are using Instagram Stories every day, sharing the ‘in-between’ moments through ephemeral, slideshow-like content. One in five Stories receive a direct message (DM) and 70% of Stories video views are sound-on.

  • Build video specifically for mobile.


  1. Capture attention early – the first few seconds are an opportunity to draw people in
  2. Design for sound-off, but sound can be a complement
  3. Frame a visual story – think about the mobile experience first
  4. Experiment – play, iterate, and test
  • Consumers have become unstable about what they can take in.

Blom: From 2000 to 2008, attention spans decreased from 12 to 8 seconds. Meanwhile, the ability to create content has increased, become frictionless. And of course, there are still only 24 hours in a day.

  • Content has to follow four pillars to cut through the clutter.

Ken Blom, BuzzFeed: To get to people at the right moment, at the right time, on the right platform, content has to be personal, on-demand, social, and empathetic. BuzzFeed created Tasty because the team wanted to create content that worked for the feed, didn’t need sound, was optimized for autoplay, and had a connection (e.g., the team doesn’t edit out food spills since they happen IRL and feel more personal). Tasty has its own identity, with over 82 million fans – more than the following for Justin Bieber, Beyonce, and Kim Kardashian West (but not Vin Diesel).

  • Think of every social platform as an opportunity to engage with people in different ways.

Blom: If you don’t know Tasty is from BuzzFeed, it’s totally fine. The company will continue to launch more brands that tap into more experiences and create communities that work well. The team’s goal is to have content accessible anywhere, on any platform, how people like. The focus is on how people act and feel when they consume content on different platforms.

  • Unify television and social.

Nikhil Sethi, Adaptly: Television and social are different environments, but you see huge advantages when you design a marketing program that unifies the two. It’s not about replacing TV with a digital platform, but using them together to further a message. TV has a short message capacity but you can use social media to create longer-form content and drive more engagement past an initial effect.

  • Ultimately, not all video views are created equal.

Sethi: “Video” means many things: the production, format, length, and way it’s measured vary greatly. Your video strategy should encompass platforms that make the most sense. And you should use different KPIs to measure success since people don’t use and consume media the same way across platforms. Because attribution models differ, you can’t use the same video asset everywhere and measure it the same way. Otherwise, you’ll miss a lot of the value platforms can drive. You have to map views back to your key objectives.