What the Most Popular Social Videos of 2017 Can Teach Us

What the Most Popular Social Videos of 2017 Can Teach Us

All three of them have uploaded social videos to YouTube and Facebook. But, one makes video ads. During 2017, Samsung India uploaded: “Samsung Convertible 5-in-1 Refrigerator – Made for More,” which is 1:01 long and got 18.7 million views in the first 30 days. Now, this branded content has gone on to accumulate 173 million views and 3.8 million engagements as of this writing, which makes it Red Bull’s top video in views and engagements of all time. Or, is there a regression to the mean when you measure the engagement rate of branded content that gets 168 million views? And the top branded content on Facebook in 2017 got 123% more views in the first 30 days and an engagement rate that was more than 9 times greater than the top video ad on YouTube last year. Top Sponsored Videos from 2017 In the social video era, brands can sponsor content, too. And according to Tubular Video Ratings, “Ping Pong Trick Shots 3” got 40.5 million in the first 30 days and – wait for it – its engagement rate was 5.4x! Thanks to Kingsford for sponsoring this video!” And according to Tubular Video Ratings, this sponsored video got 25.9 million views in the first 30 days and had an engagement rate of 3.3x. At some point, video marketers will need to walk out of that bar and choose to make video advertising, create branded video, or sponsor content for their companies or their clients.

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: three video marketers walk into a bar. All three of them have uploaded social videos to YouTube and Facebook. But, one makes video ads. The second creates branded content. And the third builds sponsored video campaigns. The bartender looks at them and asks, “Is this some kind of joke?”

Seriously, video marketers have a range of options these days – and they require a lot more critical data to choose the best one for their companies or their clients. They can make video advertising, branded video, or sponsored content. (They can also choose a little from Column A, and a little from Column B.) So, let’s compare and contrast some of the most popular social videos of 2017 to see if we can find some strategic insights, tactical advice, or trends in the digital video marketing business.

The Top Video Ad on YouTube in 2017

According to the YouTube Ads Leaderboard, the top video ad that users watched and shared in 2017 was “Samsung India Service (SVC) – We’ll take care of you, wherever you are. #SamsungService.”

This video ad tells the story of Amit, a young Samsung Engineer, who is undaunted by rough terrain and responds to a customer complaint in a remote hilly area. His efforts help bring smiles to the faces of a group of children, who couldn’t celebrate their special moment without their Samsung Television.

According to Tubular Video Ratings, this 4-minute long video ad got 71.6 million views in the first 30 days, but had an engagement rate of <0.1x. In other words, the top ad which YouTubers watched and shared in 2017 is less than one-tenth as engaging as the average video benchmarked across all content.

Now, the video ad went on to accumulate 101 million views in the first 90 days and had a total of 173 million views and 308,000 engagements as of this past weekend. But, that was probably driven more by the size of Samsung’s ad budget than it was by the engaging content of the video ad. Hey, all three of the video marketers who walked into the bar in the first paragraph of this column know that the more money you put behind promoting your content, the more views and engagements it will accumulate.

Video Publishing Lessons for Short-form Video

But, how do you know if your video ad was successful when “views” and “engagements” are outputs, not outcomes? And, what lessons can video marketers learn from one of the most popular social videos of 2017 that got high views, but low engagement?

Well, maybe after downing a few pints, one of the video marketers in the bar might jump to the conclusion that Samsung’s video ad was simply too long. And it’s true that it takes four whole minutes to tell this particular story. The two very dedicated Samsung servicemen in one of Samsung’s 535 customer service (SVC) vans encounter a fallen tree at the 0:35 mark and a flock of Chandu’s sheep at the 1:08 mark. And Amit doesn’t discover that the customer is blind until the 1:44 mark of this video ad. So, it’s logical to assume that a shorter video ad might have gotten a higher engagement rate. Yes, it’s a logical assumption if you’ve had a few beers, but it isn’t supported by the facts.

For example, Samsung Mobile India uploaded “Samsung cares for a Safe India” about six months later. This video ad was only 0:35 long and it got 85 million views in the first 30 days. But, its engagement rate was also <0.1x.

But wait, there’s more! During 2017, Samsung India uploaded:

All three of these video ads got engagement rates which were <0.1x – which means that all of them were less…

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