Is Video Changing the Social Media Landscape?

By Kimberlee Morrison Comment

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Social media referral traffic has become a very important metric when it comes to analyzing the success of a network. But the numbers don’t always tell a simple story. Shareholic released data summarizing social referral traffic throughout 2014, and it helps to illustrate how online video is redefining how social networks conduct their business.

It’s impossible to talk about social referral traffic without talking about Facebook, as Social Times has done previously. What’s more important to note is that YouTube saw a decrease in referrals of 65.49 percent during Q4 of 2014, and Facebook’s video efforts may go some way to explaining that dip.

Danny Wong explains:

YouTube is no longer the sole gatekeeper of video views. With auto-play videos, Facebook has cannibalized YouTube’s traffic share. To maximize the potential reach of your videos, you can (and should) publish them to Facebook and to YouTube.

However, the data does show that YouTube has always had a fairly small share of referrals, even if those referrals offer the highest engagement of any network.

Still, the apparently dismal referral rate for YouTube isn’t the whole story. There may have been a 94.76 percent decrease in referrals over the last three years, but YouTube is still the number one video service on the web. Google’s Q4 data showed that YouTube revenue was up more than 100 percent year-over-year, and viewing time was also up 50 percent in the same period. Indeed, YouTube is still very strong.

Amazon also released its Q4 data, which indicates its Prime video offerings have helped secure profitability for the company. According to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos:

Prime is a one-of-a-kind, all-you-can-eat, physical-digital hybrid — in 2014 alone we paid billions of dollars for Prime shipping and invested $1.3 billion in Prime Instant Video.

Amazon is investing in video because video has the potential for big returns, which Amazon has already seen within its own service. Amazon is creating original content for Prime, paid out $970 million to acquire streaming service Twitch, and it may be positioning itself to bring e-sports into the mainstream.

All of this indicates that video and streaming lead the way when it comes to profitability among the social networks in the coming year. Marketers have started taking to Facebook for their video needs, which could push YouTube into second place when it comes to uploads. Indeed, it looks like every network that can is investing in video, especially Facebook.

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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