Multimedia content and virality scores are interlinked. Some might interpret this as a correlation, others as a connection.
Whether it’s a correlation or a connection hardly matters. What matters is that there is a link. I noticed it several times during my exploration of every nook and cranny of social media. But I never felt the need to discuss it. And so it remained the elephant in the room.
Lately, it’s occurred to me that learning more about how multimedia impacts social experience can help brands improve content quality. We expect the social media crowd to react positively to our branded stories, stories from other customers, email marketing campaigns, and product videos.
But we don’t take the time to reflect on the social currency the content is supposed to generate. If a piece of content goes viral, we go gaga over it. We rarely search for the social currency expected to be generated by content that drives it’s virality quotient.
Make an impact
Multimedia content makes a larger impact than non-multimedia content. But virality on social media is not always value-driven. When multimedia content, social authority and the virality score are in a perfect alignment this high-value content sends prospects to the landing page.
An in-depth analysis of the link I described at the beginning can help us identify the predicaments to creating high-value content. And we can have a better understanding of the factors preventing multimedia content from generating value.
So here are the ways multimedia and social influence are interdependent:
Fellow writer Nadya Khoja has thrown some light on this particular aspect of multimedia. She discusses infographics, but cross-platform visibility is not limited to infographics alone. It’s a benefit available to all types of multimedia content. Video, podcasts, 3D graphics, animation – social media loves every multimedia format out there and doesn’t discriminate against any particular one.
But text content doesn’t have this benefit. Only a handful of social media sites feature text-based content. Tumblr often described as a social network, is essentially a blogging platform. Even Slideshare requires presentations created using Microsoft Powerpoint or similar open source tools.
But content rich with multimedia can be easily featured across all major social networks. A video can be broadcast on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and WhatsApp. GIFs make up a decent share of content on Facebook, Snapchat, and Giphy. Pinterest is the mecca for Infographics and cool images. In short, multimedia content is broad-spectrum and that accounts for its cross-platform visibility.
By throwing cross-platform visibility into the mix, media producers empower brand promotion. Cross-platform visibility translates to growing a brand presence across several social media sites. For brands, being omnipresent is the first step to becoming an influencer. As they sweep the social media with their growing presence, producing multimedia content in large volumes becomes a necessity for them to keep pace.
Multimedia content ranks much higher in the cross-device acceptability index than its non-multimedia cousin. Understand that text is boring whereas flash or HTML5 content sells because of its attractiveness. UX developers realized this a long time back and began working on new programming languages, frameworks, and gaming engines. All because they wanted a seamless transition for user-experience between devices.
Text content was never a part of this transition. Reading large piles of text has always been a seamless experience, irrespective of the device being used. For the mobile crowd, responsive design was enough to ensure text readability. Multimedia content, however, requires adaptive design, dynamic adaptation for handheld devices, special broadcasting protocols, and apps. These requirements ensure trouble-free switching between devices.
The transition heavily focused on multimedia because smart device owners access the Internet on the go and are always in a rush. They have little patience for voluminous text content. Multimedia communicates well and gives them a reason to stay on social media for a long time. This is why brands posting multimedia content on their social media fanpages get more engagement than brands posting non-multimedia content.
Cross-device back-and-forth is closely connected to sequential multi-screening. Studies indicate multimedia content is sequentially consumed because of the multi-screen environment.
Cross-device adaptability and text content
But multi-screen is largely irrelevant for text content. The legit gateways between this kind of content and the landing page are contextual in-text links and a single-screen is enough to accommodate them. Now, social media CTR is terribly low for text content because:
- People often fail to locate the in-text links; more so, if they access the content from Smart devices. Text-links are plagued by several problems, including technical ones.
- The mundane appearance of the links doesn’t excite the reader, so they don’t click on them.
One word of caution, multimedia content may be device-agnostic, but the handheld environment is optimized best for it. The handheld environment is filled with apps, built to support multimedia.
Handheld devices offer more control. A desktop offers a different type of multimedia experience. There’s a user interface difference as well as an intuitive difference. This cross-device compatibility will encourage multi-screening. But that’s not enough.
This brings us to our next point.
Desktop and multi-screening
Should you exclude the desktop when devising strategies for multi-screening?
I recommend you don’t. In this article, I explained the difference between sequential and simultaneous multi-screening. While sequential multi-screening requires mobility-centric pathways, simultaneous multi-screening suits desktop audiences. The top activities performed during simultaneous screening are:
- Sending/receiving email (60%)
- Social networking (42%)
- Searching the web (24%)
Desktop devices are used for detailed search and also for checking and replying to emails. That leaves social networking to be accessed predominantly via mobile devices. Keeping that in mind, content producers need to establish a balance between multimedia on social sites and para-multimedia, cleverly distributed across email and websites.
In effect, a person will watch a Facebook video via their Smartphone and receive the same information in a newsletter opened via desktop computer offers. They will access the same information from two different devices. The information will be presented in two different formats. They could click on the link embedded in the email or the link that pops up at the end of the video. Or if the content is persuasive enough, manually open a new browser tab.
The latter may be rare, but high-quality multimedia content can change many equations. Besides, simultaneous multi-screeners are not as laidback as single-screeners. Multi-screening isn’t as time-consuming and people can keep tabs on all the activities leading them to the landing page.
DIY and how-to guide
The popularity of online DIY guidebooks is steadily on the rise. Video, podcasts and visual instructions are far better than text content because they convey the message quickly and without much ado. Large volumes of text cannot spell out something the way a 30-seconds long video can. Video and streaming audio are everyone’s favorite.
The web is full of “how-to” manuals that are predominantly text-based. But the Internet crowd looks disapprovingly on those manuals and prefers to watch videos instead. Most people visit YouTube to download “how-to” guides. The best thing about “how-to” videos is the viewers can see everything themselves and get an idea of how something is to be done. No need to give them separate instructions.
Many longstanding bloggers are no longer bloggers. They are now vloggers. Vlogging allows them to save time and articulate everything to their audience without scribbling down a single word. Similar to video and podcast, infographics are also a multimedia powerhouse. When a DIY enthusiast needs just a small piece of information and not a whole bunch of it, an infographic comes in way handier than text content.
Social media is a platform best-suited to showcase multimedia DIY content. By posting DIY content, brands earn a distinct authority. Customers have become tired of promotional excess. They want brands to educate them, not simply pitch their products. Brands that fulfil this expectation get recognized. They don’t have to strive for social influence as it is handed to them on a silver platter.
Don’t overdo it
Multimedia presents an immersive experience. While that can be a sales-booster, overdoing it can harm the sales prospect. It’s the same cautionary advice that designers are given when they create a brand story – don’t overdo emotion as that is a distraction.
Overdoing multimedia could distract audiences. They may get too immersed and not fully recover. That’s when they will actively resist every sales attempt – be it direct or not-so-direct.
These touch points illustrate how the production of multimedia content can benefit brands by helping them climb up the social influence ladder. Cross-device usage will increase over time, so will customer’s inclination to opt for hands-on methods. If brands want to cash in on these up and coming marketing trends, they need to devise strategies that center around these touch points.