The lowering of financial, technical and skill barriers for video production, distribution and consumption means that billions of people around the world today have the ability and means to make a video anywhere anytime, upload it online for the world to see, or live-stream it to their friends, family and the public, through social networking and other video platform sites. In our hyper-connected society, video’s inherent shareability makes it a key means to satisfy people’s needs for information and entertainment. Much of the user created videos, particularly those shared on social networking sites, are primarily share-worthy, news-worthy contents that are fun, interesting or useful. It has been suggested that the majority of user created videos are about social belonging, identity, participation in community, pleasure and having fun together. The mass participation in video production, distribution and consumption releases enormous creativity which fuels continued social participation. Although other forms of media (such as text, sound or image) are not going away, video has become a more important medium for communication. As anthropologist Michael Wesch put it, ‘When media change, human relationships change’. Video is facilitating profound changes in social interaction and mass participation in our increasingly networked society.
Today, we are entering the age of social video, when we do not only consume and enjoy the content of video, but also use video as a tool for discussion and a way to interact with the creators of videos and with each other. The right balance between content and community is essential for success, because great video content helps attract and sustain an engaged community, which in turn encourages the creation of more great content and facilitates its distribution both within and beyond the community.
One example of building a successful community around video is GoPro, the maker of one of the most versatile cameras in the world. Using the best videos created with GoPro equipment on its distribution channels, the company has inspired a legion of passionate fans to film and tag their greatest moments, and share these videos with others. This helps create brand awareness and strengthen the identity of GoPro as a great maker of cameras. Some of these videos have gone viral, generating millions of viewings around the world.
One lesson from the example is that video can be just about entertainment, but with the growing social and participative nature of video, it is critical that it also contains an element of conversation and participation in communities. When a creator or brand can rally a community around a video, they can amplify the reach of the video far more than the video could have done on its own. This is particularly the case in experience goods and services (e.g. iconic sport cars or video games) when communities of passionate fans can share experiences and participate in conversations through videos. However, harnessing the creative energy of loyal fans requires resources, commitment and reward from the firm to ensure the conversations are aligned with the brand.