In 2014, YouTube only represented 28 percent of all internet searches. Today, it’s the second largest search engine in the world and the third most visited website, outperformed only by Google and Facebook. Every minute, 300 hours of video get uploaded to YouTube, and the average mobile viewing session lasts more than 40 minutes. This year, video is poised to represent 74 percent of all internet traffic.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: Is video about to replace the written word?
There’s plenty of speculation suggesting that text-based content is soon to meet its maker. But before you follow the hype and pitch out your entire strategy, read this article. A well-rounded content marketing strategy requires both video and text-based content to effectively nurture audiences—and probably always will. Here’s why:
Taboola created a graphic that compares online video to text-based articles in terms of social signals. Predictably, video wins every category. But the percentage gap certainly isn’t a landslide. A significant percentage of your audience still responds favorably to text-based content.
Video does all the work for us. That’s why we use it on occasion to “escape” from daily life. Have you ever cried during a movie or caught yourself with a ridiculous grin on your face during a happy scene? Your emotional responses aren’t a fluke. Video creators use science and psychology to direct us on what to see, how to feel and in many ways, how to interpret the story. All we viewers have to do is sit back and let the audiovisual experience sweep us off our feet.
Video’s effortless experience is great for some audience members. But not every personality type is comfortable giving up this much control over how they form opinions about products and services, especially if their opinions will factor into a difficult or consequential decision.
Reading demands deliberate, active participation. Instead of absently staring at a screen, reading triggers inner dialogue and pushes us to form original thoughts about the information in print. Sure, textual content can be persuasive, but it also leaves plenty of room for interpretation and imagination. In other words, reading requires greater cognitive effort and a longer attention span.
Research suggests that when an important or consequential decision (for example, shopping for a new healthcare provider or choosing a life insurance policy) is at stake, audiences may prefer text over video because reading forces them to think critically and puts them in control over how they review and interpret information.
According to ClickTale research, brands experience two different types of “visitor.” Your content marketing strategies must support both:
Goal-Oriented Visitors. Goal-oriented visitors have a specific need in mind. They are in research mode; operating at a higher cognitive level, and more likely to interact with text-based content.
Unintentional Visitors. Unintentional visitors casually meander through websites in search of offers and entertainment. They use a lower cognitive level and depend on content architecture, CTAs and other marketing strategies to guide them through their interaction with a brand. These types of visitors are more likely to favor video content.
Spoken communication is inherently flawed because listeners and speakers insert their own subjectivity. Hence the phrase, Put it in writing. Yes, video creates permanence for the spoken word. But written words eliminate ambiguity.
Despite their powerful impact on your digital success, search engines are limited in how they interpret content; they require text to crawl and index. Video marketing can be a powerful SEO tool in terms of generating links for your website, but without striking titles, keyword-laden descriptions, closed captions, transcripts, metadata, etc., Search Engines struggle to rank video content. In other words, text-based content is still your most powerful SEO tool, particularly when accompanied by all the fixings: crawlable links, keywords, on-page optimization, rich snippets and meta tags.
There’s no arguing the efficacy of video marketing. It’s profoundly powerful at engaging audiences and getting your brand message across. But video’s overwhelming popularity doesn’t signify the end of days for text-based content. It heralds the dawning of a new, dual-focus content marketing strategy; one that increasingly considers a visitor’s decision-making process (and the subconscious/psychological factors at play) to determine which form of content will perform best.
As you develop your content marketing strategy this year, think synergy, not severance. This won’t be the year that text dies. It will be the year text and video come together to drive content marketing success even higher.