Most big companies and brands can afford to produce high-end, engaging video content to feature their products and services over all their social media platforms, website and on television. But with the expansion of video service apps and social media platforms offering video recording and hosting services, consumers are gravitating more towards brands that adopt these services to communicate with them, similar to how consumers communicate with their friends and loved ones. They want more personal connections with the companies they purchase products or services from, desiring the intimacy and familiarity of user-generated content — even if it means the content isn’t always user-generated.
Trending in social media today is the self-recorded video, made popular by video messaging app Snapchat. Users take on an evolved form of the picture selfie and record short videos that they send to their friends on the app. These short videos can disappear as quickly as they are viewed by the recipient, can play on repeat until the recipient closes them or can play in loop along with other videos taken within a twenty-four-hour period.
According to a study done by Hootsuite, over 100 million people in the U.S. and 200 million people worldwide use Snapchat and watch over 10 billion videos daily, spending an average of about 30 minutes a day on the app. Its largest demographic is 18 to 24-year-olds at 37 percent, but 25 to 34-year-olds make up about 26 percent of its userbase.
Once its popularity skyrocketed, Facebook, Instagram and even LinkedIn began offering similar video services. With features like “Days” on Facebook and “Stories” on Instagram, users can document their everyday lives and temporarily share their experiences with friends and the world simply by self-recording on their phones, tablets or computers. For direct communication, more and more millennials and even Generation X prefer to communicate through FaceTime, a feature offered by Apple’s iOS, instead of traditional phone calls or texting.
Traditionally, FaceTime was most popular with older users, such as grandparents wanting to see grandchildren and parents wanting to speak with their kids while away. In recent years, the 18 to 24-year-old demographic has taken to FaceTiming on a more regular basis.
Even in primetime television, we see more and more shows incorporating the use of self-recording devices in order to have a more personal and down-to-earth appeal and to emphasize that they are aware of social media trends.
America’s Next Top Model show creator Tyra Banks records a “Tyra Mail,” a segment in which she gives clues on upcoming challenges on a mobile device and plays it afterwards for the show’s contestants.
There used to be an age where research meant looking for articles in printed publications or essays in books — then it quickly evolved into “let me Google that” or “I’ll just look it up on Wikipedia.” Today, more and more people have become visual learners, so the new way to research something is, “I don’t know what that is but let me YouTube it and I’ll get back to you.” Consumers now look to YouTube personalities and social media videos (sometimes) with celebrities for makeup tips, DIY ideas, tech help, cooking recipes, reviews and even entertainment. The majority of this content is self-recorded using minimal resources, like a phone or laptop computer.
Lull, a boxed mattress company, used many videos created by their customers in order to push a sales campaign. Boxed mattress companies boomed in the past couple years and had great success with millennials with the ease of their online shop and ship features, but it was the user-generated content of real people unboxing their mattresses that gave a few companies an edge over the competition.
Some companies have caught on to the trend, and while some don’t actually use a phone, tablet or computer to record their videos, the attempt is to mimic the look and feel of self-recorded content in order to establish a personal connection. This type of media gives consumers the impression that they are being spoken to — not at — and gives the brand an air of sincerity that today’s consumer culture looks for.
Considering the Match.com personal dating app revolves around personal stories and personality, it only makes sense that they would use self-recorded content in their advertising. So far, though, they are the only dating app to do so. Other apps and services similar to them use the “man on the street” or “talking head” interview styles which consumers see quite a bit of already.
Transparency and personality are the new trends that brands are finding success with. By utilizing the self-record form of media and user-generated content, they are building much stronger connections with their consumer base.