As People Turn to Digital Spaces to Connect, Video Viewership Rises and Brand Opportunities Increase

In the wake of Covid-19, the way people interact with each other and the world around us has changed dramatically. But the desire for human connection is as strong as ever.

From socially distant DJ sets to virtual birthday parties, online video has taken on greater significance in many people’s lives. What we watch has also increasingly become part of our social exchanges, cultural conversations and identities. As a result, video viewing behaviors have accelerated.

This shift has sparked innovation and brought us together in unexpected ways. It has also created new opportunities for brands. So, let’s explore how people connect with video today and what it means for marketers in the year ahead.

Audiences are now communities

In contrast to television, digital spaces allow people to connect, interact and engage more deeply with content that’s relevant to their interests and passions. This is accelerating a shift from passive viewing to active participation—and we expect this shift to continue.

As people continue to turn to digital spaces to watch content and connect with others, they are also building meaningful communities around content and real-world interests. For example, 77% of people surveyed indicated that the most important group they’re a part of now operates online.

Virtual communities are helping keep people socially connected despite the lack of physical proximity and, at the same time, provide brands with valuable spaces for audience engagement.

New and more moments that matter

Fueled by the absence of mass gatherings, social milestones and culture-defining moments are happening online in meaningful ways. Today, people unite on an unprecedented scale around rich video content from friends, family, creators, publishers, artists and brands.

Previously personal moments are now amplified on social media. For instance, Facebook celebrated the class of 2020 with a week of #Graduation2020 video programming that saw over 33 million views. It included commencement addresses by Lil Nas X, Simone Biles and other mega superstars. Graduates also hosted their own virtual ceremonies and parties via Facebook, with special features including a virtual graduation hub, custom filters and celebrations enabled by Messenger Rooms.

These new cultural occasions offer opportunities for brands to be part of more moments that matter and form personal, emotional connections outside of key seasons and holidays. 

Supercharged storytelling

With more time at home, WARC found that online video consumption quadrupled during the pandemic, and the majority of people who said they’re watching more video content plan to maintain these higher levels. This has increased the value and importance of video and inspired more inventive storytelling.

We’ve seen head-to-head artist battles, virtual vacations, online videos influencing offline hobbies in new ways and more. The limited series, Cardi Tries ____ on Messenger was recently launched with the Watch Together feature on Instagram so that people could safely view the show alongside friends and family. And businesses have also reimagined the way they use video. Cleveland’s Carol & John’s Comic Shop hosted Facebook Live sales to keep connected to its community and help stay afloat amid the pandemic.

For brands, the possibilities are nearly endless. Experiment with a variety of formats to open new worlds to your customers and make authentic connections over shared interests.

Connecting people and brands through video

According to an Ipsos study from last November, video viewers cited Instagram and Facebook as the most popular video platforms for connecting with brands.

Video comes to life in diverse formats across our apps and services, each offering distinct customer and native ad experiences. People can discover new ideas with short-form video—like News Feed, Stories and Reels—and spend more time with topics they care about with long-form video—like Live, Facebook Watch and IGTV, our dedicated tabs on Facebook and Instagram.

Using a combination of our video solutions can deliver on objectives throughout the consumer journey and help brands make relevant connections where people are coming together around video online. Learn more about our video solutions, including in-stream placements, over at Facebook for Business.