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YouTube, Vine and Now Instagram Video: This Changes Everything!

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Video is H-U-G-E!

I know that sounds completely obvious and you are probably saying, "Isn't it already huge?"
Yes it is, but it is going to be even H-U-G-E-R! (I think that is a word?) I am going to give you some reasons why I think this is true. Then, I am going to make a couple of suggestions why and how you should "up" the use of video this next year to supercharge your company's marketing efforts.

First, I just read a friend of mine, Mike Stelzner's, 43-page report titled "2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report". Mike is the founder of Social Media Examiner. This is the fifth year that Mike's company has interviewed thousands (3,000-plus this year) of marketers and compiled a "state of the industry" report that always provides uncannily accurate predictions of what the near future holds for the social media industry. There are tons of tremendous insights, cool charts and great suggestions, but the one finding that stood out above all, at least to me, was this: "YouTube holds the top spot for future plans: A significant 69% of marketers plan on increasing their use of YouTube, making it the top area marketers will invest in for 2013."

YouTube Changes the Social Media Landscape

Unless you have been living in a remote village without electricity, computers or the Internet for the last decade, you have heard about YouTube. What you probably do not know is just how massive and important it has become. YouTube was launched by three ex-PayPal employees in February 2005 and purchased by Google in October 2006 for $1.65 billion. Not bad for 20 months of work. Since then it has grown to over 800+ million unique visitors per month watching nearly 4 billion hours of video. It is also the No. 2 search engine in the world behind -- you guessed it -- only Google. Check out another friend of mine, Jeff Bullas' great infographic on YouTube for an overview of the company's meteoric climb.

Enter the marketers. When YouTube first launched there were no ads at the front end and marketers wondered if users would tolerate advertising just to watch a video. The answer is "yes", and with YouTube's "TrueView" advertising model marketers only pay when users choose to watch their ads. That is known as "opt-in" impressions in the advertising world and they are solid gold because they usually result in higher conversion rates. Throw in the value of video to a company's website performance (spelled Search Engine Optimization) and now you see why video is a "must have" in any marketer's future plans.

Twitter Introduces Vine and the World to Micro-Video

You have heard of blogging, obviously. That is what you are reading right now. A blog is usually 500 to 750 words in length and is a short, value-packed article. Micro-blogging is the smaller version of that with length counted in characters, not words. Twitter picked 140 characters (that will get you about 20 to 25 words) and, while Facebook allows many more, posts with few than 80 characters get 23 percent more engagement. Proof that less is more! With 1.1 billion Facebook users and 500 million Twitter users, it is hard to argue that micro-blogging is not popular or here to stay.

So, if blogging is popular, but micro-blogging is even more popular, then doesn't it make sense that if video is popular that micro-video could be even more popular? Twitter certainly thought so and that is why they launched Vine in January 2013.

The "app" allows you to capture motion and sound in six-second increments and share with the touch of a button. There has not been massive adoption by the Twitter user base, but growth to 13 million users in the first five months is not bad. Vine is definitely gaining traction.

Instagram Blows the Doors Off the Micro-Video Race

Last week, Instagram's co-founder, Kevin Systrom, announced what his team has been up to the last two and a half years and shed some light on one of the previously unknown reasons why Facebook was willing to pay $1 billion to acquire them in April 2012.

First sign of marketing genius? It is not a separate "app." That means that all 130 million Instagram users, with their next software update, get it on day one. Other crazy cool features include the ability to record from one to 15 seconds of video, no loop feature, the ability to take small clips and make a collage (and edit out pieces you do not like), 13 video-only filters, background uploading, Android and iOS availability, thumbnail title screen selection and an amazing video stabilization tool called "cinema."

So, the war is on between Vine and Instagram and the likelihood that others that will enter the race very soon is certainly inevitable. Early reports are that brands prefer Instagram over Vine with 14 of the top 100 global brands posting videos with Instagram video and only seven using Vine in the last week. That is just one data point, though. One thing is for sure, as long as they keep trying to outdo each other, we all win.

Where should YOU go with video?

I am doubling down on video this next year and it is my suggestion that you start to incorporate it as well. It is practically free to produce, easy to use and consume and a highly effective marketing tool.

Whether it is YouTube, Instagram or Vine, you can tuck it into blogs, newsletters, your website, your Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram feeds and other social media channels and better communicate you, your brand, your product and services in new and interesting ways that the written word just cannot match.

So who is with me? Who is doubling down on video this next year?