If social video marketing is the holy trinity of the digital marketing age, then which is the ideal social media platform to undertake this marketing strategy? While fair comparisons must be made, the ultimate winner is clear from the get-go: Facebook fits the bill perfectly on all three counts of the social video marketing tri-factor. If you are limited to only one social media platform for all your marketing strategies, then Facebook is probably your best bet.

On the social front:

Facebook is the winner – hands down. It is the largest social media website in the world going by unique monthly visitors – larger, even, than Youtube (and that’s ignoring the question of whether Youtube really is a social media website).

In fact, if Facebook were to be a country, then it would be the largest country in the world.

Like countries themselves, Facebook is not only comprised of circles of family and friends, but also clusters of individuals that form virtual communities on the basis of shared interests, values and beliefs. When a piece of information succeeds in invoking these shared beliefs, it has the potential to go viral. In a 2011 study, marketing professor Jonah Berger found that there is a physiological basis to why we share videos. When a message elicits certain emotions, the chance that we share that message becomes greater.

We share emotions, not just information. Berger’s study is also corroborated by independent sources elsewhere. In one survey, 76% of users said that they would share a branded video if it was funny, as compared to 31% of users who would share a branded video purely because they liked the brand.2

When you make people feel an emotion they find worthy of sharing, they will promote your content for you. The implications? You can sell your products without selling it – all you have to do is to focus on creating value for your target audience.

On the video front:

It seems that Youtube could stand to win this one. Indeed, Youtube can boast of having the largest viewership among all video-hosting websites – more than 1 billion hours of videos are watched on its website daily, which is second only to broadcasted television content.

The caveat, however, is that Youtube is not exactly a social media platform in the same way that Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are social media platforms. While all of them host large volumes of user-generated content and allow for two-way interaction, Youtube is still used predominantly by people to watch videos made by other people they’ve likely never met in real life. What this means, is that Youtube may lose out on the ‘trust’ factor when compared to social media sites like Facebook. It’s also hard to share a Youtube video directly with your friends – you’d likely take to social messaging for that purpose.

Youtube Currently Has The Largest Share Of The Pie Amongst All Video-Hosting Websites.

While the websites most similar to Youtube in functionality are Vimeo and Dailymotion, it is social media giants like Facebook (who owns Instagram) and Snapchat who are emerging as tough competitors against Youtube. Facebook, for instance, has been promoting video streaming on its website through a series of strategic algorithmic tweaks that privileges natively uploaded videos and live videos3. While Facebook is not yet a contender with Youtube in terms of viewership, it has recently hit 100 million hours of videos watched per day4. All trends and evidences point to the continued growth of Facebook videos in the foreseeable future.

Video is one of the best formats at promoting brand recall (80% of customers remember a video that they’ve watched in the past month5), making it one of the best marketing options for promoting top of mind awareness. While it’s easy to assume that longer videos would lose out in the social media feed environment, some of the longer videos perform surprisingly well. Ultimately, factors like video length or marketing budget are not the most important determinants of a video’s success. What matters most is value – your video must be compelling enough to warrant the continued interest of your viewers.

While Conventional Wisdom Says That Short And Happy Videos Perform Better In Feed Environments, Long (>3mins) And Sad Videos Can Convert Incredibly Well.

On the marketing front

Facebook again emerges first in terms of its brute marketing strength.

Knowledge (or data, in this case) is power, and Facebook is essentially a huge data mine – so huge, in fact, that it’s not impossible to micro-target specific individuals in your marketing campaigns6. Some of your most personal details – right down to your mother’s maiden name and your personal dreams and aspirations – can be derived from your Facebook activities with little effort.

Image: Brian Swichkow 
A Budding Facebook Marketer Practices His Targeting Techniques On His Roommate, And Almost Succeeds In Driving Him To Paranoia.

Other social media platforms deserve a mention. Twitter, for instance, is valuable for its ability to deliver bite-size information within a compressed turnaround time. But Twitter’s strengths are also its weaknesses: in order to provide more comprehensive information (anything more than 140 characters) to your audience, you’d have to direct them to a webpage.

Instagram, on the other hand, can be invaluable in serving your marketing needs if your business is visually oriented. If you do not have a good eye for design or photography, then Instagram is probably not the best option for you. And hence, Facebook it is again.

The thing is, Facebook is well aware of its vast potentials as a marketing platform. With more and more businesses establishing their presence on the social media platform, Facebook has optimized its search functions so that people can easily find businesses that meet their specifications. Businesses, on the other hand, can make use of the rich analytic functions offered by Facebook to understand the kinds of people who are interested in them.

While most businesses probably won’t need to micro-target customers individually, the fact that this option is viable on Facebook says heaps about how efficient the platform is for reaching out to the right people. Let’s just say that you’re selling yoga gear in the US. To reach the largest customer segment, you’d immediately want to target women who are (1) 20-50 (2) earning in the upper 25 percentile (3) probably also interested in organic food and juicing machines. The implications are clear: Why spend your money on other social media platforms when you can spend it on Facebook?