How Customers Engage With Social Media Video: 8 Things You Need to Know

Want to peek into the mind of your ideal customer and find out how they engage with social media video? How they are interacting with brands via video? How are they purchasing?

Take a seat, because in this post we break down exactly how customers are watching social media video and more importantly, how they are purchasing from video.

And it's all based on data and research, so you can start using this intel now, to get results in your business. 

How Customers Engage with Social Media Video: 8 Things You Need to Know
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How Customers Engage with Social Media Video: 8 Things You Need to Know
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Image by Shutterstock (DisobeyArt)


So let's jump in and take a look at the data from a survey of 1,000 (actually 1,017) consumers, thanks to the team at Animoto.

Their annual survey aims to find out how we are interacting with video and brands on social media platforms. You can read last year's post here to see how we've progressed.

In this post we'll focus on the results of the survey for consumers, because as a business, that's what you really need to know – so you can create video that resonates with your audience. And be sure to check out the infographic below that breaks it all down visually!

Why is Social Media Video important?

Social video, or Social media video is fairly well accepted as an important part of marketing strategy.

In fact, 93% of businesses say they’ve acquired a new customer thanks to a video on social media. That's a high figure!

And these shopping statistics collated by OptinMonster are also quite thought-provoking:

  • 50% of web users look for a video before visiting a store.
  • 79% of consumers prefer watching video to reading about a product.
  • 43% of consumers want to see more video content this year.

So with this in mind, it's worth finding out more about how consumers are consuming and buying from video!

8 Things You Need to Know about How Customers Engage with Social Media Video

These are the 8 key learnings about social media video from Animoto's consumer survey. Let's start with the obvious:

1.  Consumers Heart Video

Yes, it seems obvious, but let's start here. Consumers love video. it's their #1 favourite type of branded content on social media.

Let's break down the figures in order of “love” for different branded content types, according to the survey:

  1. Video 45%
  2. Photos 22%
  3. Links 13%
  4. Text 10%
  5. N/A 10%

With video being such an important preference for consumers to engage with content, it's important for businesses to create more video. Make your content visually interesting so it catches attention. Video and live movement is a perfect way to do this, and it's a perfect way to connect with your audience because it's highly authentic, and “real”.

2.  Think “Virtual Storefront”

One of the most interesting stats to come out of the report was that:

73% of consumers have been impacted by a brand's social media presence when making a purchase decision.


33% of consumers check out a brand's social media presence before checking out their website.

Or, you can look at it this way:

“More and more our presence on social media is becoming the face of our company” – Jason Hsiao, Animoto

So we need to realise that our social media presence is just as important as our website. And it could be the first place that people discover or see you – not on your website. We might follow a brand on Instagram for a while before actually visiting their website to buy something.

Here's the infographic by Animoto, before we go any further:

Infographic about the State of Social Video

Infographic about Consumer Trends - State of Social Video - How Customers Engage with Social Media Video: 8 Things You Need to Know
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3. Platforms that Drive Video to Buy

The research showed that videos from brands influenced purchase decisions on the following platforms in 2018:

  • Facebook 64% (same as 2017)
  • YouTube 57% (up from 52%)
  • Pinterest 32% (same as 2017)
  • Twitter 31% (up from 27% in 2017)
  • Snapchat 27% (up from 22% in 2017)
  • LinkedIn 20% (up from 18% in 2017)

Yes, Facebook is still King for driving purchases online with social media videos. But Instagram is one to watch. It's powering up through the ranks as a platform where people love to buy through video.

With over 1 billion users, Instagram is only going to keep growing and when you consider that video can be posted on the Instagram Feed, Instagram Stories and IGTV there are plenty of video opportunities.


What can we take from this? Facebook will still be important but brands should consider creating social media video on Instagram.

It's a platform where you need to engage your audience and interact with them (from comments to polls to and interactive GIF stickers). But when you have a relationship with your audience there and have something to sell, video is a great way to lead them to buy from you.

4. Social Media vs Television

I've posted before about how our “television” and video watching habits have changed in the age of Netflix – and how we need to rethink our social video strategy.

So it's interesting to note from the survey that:

  • 46% of people watch more video ads on social media than on TV, and
  • 57% of millennial users watch more video ads on social media than on TV.

Obviously we have moved away from watching ads on TV, skipping them or moving away from traditional TV altogether. “Netflix” might be considered TV in these stats but of course we pay for TV without ads there. So with our need to reduce the number of ads we watch on TV, it's interesting that we are, for the most part, interested in ads on social media.

Use this intel in your social media video strategy, especially if you are targeting millennials, and definitely consider ads for Instagram and Instagram Stories – get creative with these platforms and try something different.

5. Video Ads Aid Discovery

It's interesting that from the research, on social media, video ads were the #1 way that consumers found out about a new brand or product before purchasing. The hierarchy of discovery was as follows:

  1. Video ads from brands – 45%
  2. Recommendations from friends – 31%
  3. Facebook Groups – 30%
  4. Sponsored Influencer Posts – 29%

I'm actually surprised that ads has surpassed recommendations from friends, so this is a huge stat to be aware of when creating social media video in order to attract customers and especially video ads. As you know from this blog, I'm a huge fan of organic, word-of-mouth marketing, but there's no doubting the powerhouse of word-of-mouth + video ads.

6. Best Places to Hang out with Brands (on Video)

Consumers enjoy watching social media videos from brands mostly in this order:

  1. Facebook
  2. YouTube
  3. Instagram

No surprises here, though personally I would be interested to see if Instagram beats out Facebook at some stage. I spend less and less time on Facebook and more time on Instagram. But for now, Facebook is still the most popular, especially for short form video content.

However, I would say that it's been interesting to see lately that there have been some big brands stop posting video on Facebook and focus on YouTube for long form content. Social Media Examiner announced this move in October, 2018 here and here to cancel showing their long-form video content on Facebook and moving it all to YouTube (other than live video). Their reasons? Very few people watch long-form video on Facebook compared to short form video and live video.

So I think we'll see Facebook continue to do well with short form video and it will be interesting to see how our viewing habits progress across platforms.

7. We love watching video (and ads!) on Instagram

Not surprisingly, the research revealed that many consumers on Instagram are seeking out video from brands and enjoying it.

Of the consumers on Instagram,

  • 49% have watched a video on IGTV
  • 70% of those have watched an IGTV video from a brand
  • 47% actually enjoy watching ads on Instagram Stories.

I still think Instagram Stories are the best place to focus your time on Instagram, in combination with the newsfeed. And then add in IGTV if you have the bandwidth to do so.

But these stats are worth taking note of, especially our willingness to watch ads on Instagram Stories!  We knew that consumers were watching videos by brands on Instagram Stories, but it's interesting to note that they are happy to watch ads too. Ads are still novel and quick enough for us to let them roll without impacting our experience too much.

8. Most Popular Types of Branded Video

So wrapping up all these revelations about social media video, what type of video should you create on these platforms?

Here are the top 3 types of branded video that consumers liked best.

  1. How-to Videos
  2. Videos about Sales and Promos
  3. Top 5 lists.

The consumers have spoken. Your potential partners have spoken!  I'm not surprised that how-to videos have hit the top of the most popular list. We love to know how to do things!  There's never been a time to share what you can teach!  And it's good for businesses to know that you don't have to be afraid of creating videos about your sales and promotions.

And who doesn't live a great Top 5 list, right?

Here's a video about the full research survey by Animoto, including trends for both consumers and marketers:

Getting Started with Social Media Video

So with that, what's next? It's time to create social media video. But what if you still feel a little overwhelmed about getting started, here are a few tips:

  1. Take out your mobile phone. It's never been easier to create video. Use your camera phone or check out this post for some cool camera tips and apps for video you can use, even if you don't have a fancy schmancy mobile phone. Video taken with your mobile can easily be uploaded to Facebook or Instagram or even YouTube. Gone are the days when we needed a DSLR video camera to take great video.
  2. Use a video tool to help you. Animoto is a great tool to use for creating quick social videos, and they've recently added vertical video (ie Instagram Stories) to the mix. You can also check out more about Animoto and some other tools here.
  3. Use the video ad tools available. When creating ads for Facebook and Instagram there are various sizes and types that you can create – from carousel ads to Instagram Story ads, and especially mobile-ready ads for mobile.  The ad platform is designed with tools to help you create the video ads, so take advantage of these. They make it easy!

Now you have the insider information from Animoto's research and you have some tools to get you started.

What Will You Create?

Over to you. Are you excited about the way consumers are using social media video? 

Tell me in the comments below – are you creating video and how will the information in this post change or improve your video marketing? 

How Customers Engage with Social Media Video: 8 Things You Need to Know
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How Customers Engage with Social Media Video: 8 Things You Need to Know
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Image by Shutterstock (DisobeyArt)

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Donna Moritz

Visual Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted
Donna is a Visual Content Strategist and founder of Socially Sorted, listed by Forbes as a "Top 5 Social Media Blog You Need to Know About". Donna helps brands leverage the power of visual storytelling and content strategy in their business. Her content has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Inc. & Entrepreneur and she is a speaker and trainer on visual content for the marketing and tourism industries internationally.
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