The hurdles to truly “social” video experiences

video future

By Will Overstreet, {grow} Community Member

In my business, I work with some of the biggest television networks in the world. Over the last year, I have been approached by several of these customers about delivering video as a part of our product offering to them. My first reaction was “huh?” Can’t they do video better than me?

But what I realized what they were really asking for is a more SOCIAL video experience. This begs the question — why hasn’t video evolved from just different ways to watch what we have known as TV? Despite all the technology changes, we are basically interacting with video essentially the same way we did in the 1950s. We observe.

Think about it.  Our expectations for all other forms of content are that they will have numerous ways in which we can interact without diminishing the experience or the value of the content. We expect content where you can:

  1. Research a term in a separate browser tab or window
  2. Click on terms within an article
  3. Come back to exactly were you left off
  4. Zoom on images and or infographics
  5. Read and add your own comments
  6. Copy a select piece of the article and send to a friend
  7. Print the article
  8. Participate in a poll or with some other type of interactive experience

Video doesn’t allow for any of this.

Along with these options, we also have an expectation that when we post and create, it will elicit a response from a publisher, brand’s social team or the community at large.  Each new contribution we make has the potential to extend the life of the content, add to it, personalize it, or even transform it into something new.

The ways we can interact with a video are more limited that how you can interact with me over this blog post! Think about a video you recently viewed on the web …

  • Can you input a response?
  • Can you click on items within the video to get more information?
  • When you leave a webpage and then return does the video begin playing where you left off?
  • Did the video have a call to action?  Do you know what action the brand would like for you to take?
  • If the video was an ad was it any different from the TV version?  Did it ask you to call a phone number instead of sending you to a website or Facebook page?
  • Did the video entice you where you felt you might want to respond?
  • Can you copy and paste a snippet of the video to send to a friend?

Why the Lack of Innovation?

The industry has not pushed for innovation in terms of user experience because, much like print media five years ago, the overarching trend shows an increased consumption of the core product. In other words, why mess with success?

We can see some similarities between how social video might evolve along the lines of what has happened to social “print:”

  1. Decreasing Margins Due to Lower Barriers of Entry – Any Tom, Dick, or Harry can create video content.  Creating video used to be more difficult but with the advancements of technology, this is no longer a barrier and a major reason for the projected growth in video consumption.  The increased number of video publishers will also dilute the value of video content and make it much more difficult for customers in the video industry to justify paying higher cost when the three amigos can have the same impact with tools that are next to nothing in price.
  2. How the Industry Views Itself – The majority of companies in the industry sell to CIOs and CTOs.  In addition, they compete based on price, reliability, and speed.  In other words, the industry views and sells itself as a commodity and not as a key sales and marketing tool.
  3. Evolving Consumer Behavior – My company sells to the sales, editorial, and marketing teams.  The revenue generating side of the house views video as a way to increase topline revenue.  They need packaged solutions and providers that speak their language, don’t involve internal IT resources, and are able to execute quickly. This can mean higher margins for the industry but can only be realized when a change in direction of the company occurs.

And, we are part of the problem

You and I, the video consumers, are the other reason for delaying the innovation and evolution of online video content.  Here are a few reasons why:

  1. We love to be passive. – Who doesn’t love to be a “couch potato?” This desire drives our expectations for video content, but in the case of taking a class or watching a how-to video, we may want something more.
  2. We Are Indoctrinated – Our viewing behaviors have been conditioned over many years from watching TV and movies.  My personal belief is that because TV makes more sensory connections than print or radio (I can see it AND hear it) the separation and differentiation between TV and the Internet was going to be last.
  3. Video is a Victim of Its Own Success.  Video is still arguably the most powerful tool for communicating a message to a mass audience.  The only thing better currently is the real world face-to-face meeting.

The use of video is exploding on the web. Think of the potential if we could truly make it “social.”  The shift could be as monumental as the first introduction of the television.

I would love to see the introduction of a device that allows you to upload a video and allow you to review it and classify the different objects within the video.  The player would then allow for any object within the video player to be touch screen enabled.  So for example, you could click on a pair of glasses that an individual was wearing to learn more about them or go to an E-commerce website and purchase the glasses for yourself.

This type of innovation would give the user the ability to freely experience video content as they saw fit and would allow for the viewer to add in their own content, ideas, thoughts, and opinions on the different clickable objects within the video.

What ideas would you incorporate into a video technology that is truly social?

will overstreetWill Overstreet is the founder of Voices Heard Media, a company creating new interactive web experiences. Follow him on Twitter and his blog.

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