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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Will video marketing make the written word obsolete?

Although e-books and videos are increasing in popularity, physical books have become popular again

Twitter is more used per capita in Saudi Arabia than anywhere in the world. AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File
Twitter is more used per capita in Saudi Arabia than anywhere in the world. AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

A lot of my friends barely read physical books or newspapers.

One of my brothers prefers to watch a documentary video about a topic of his interest than read a book or an article about it. He says he is more of a visual person, and that he can receive all the information he requires about a subject within an hour, as opposed to reading a book about it that could take a few days depending on its length.

There has been a lot of debate about whether print will become obsolete. A survey conducted by Pew Research last year found that half of American adults now own a tablet e-reader. When Kindle launched 10 years ago, the idea was revolutionary. Environment activists and tree lovers applauded it as that would mean more trees would be spared.

My mentor is a fan of the digital device, as he travels a lot and loves to travel light. “But if I like a book or a movie based on a book, I make sure to buy a hard copy to add it to my library,” he says.

With the enhancement of digital devices and platforms, what does that mean for marketing? Will video be the dominant marketing tool? You bet.

YouTube receives more than 1 million unique visitors every month, which is more than any other social media channel. Cisco, a leading American networking solution provider, published a study that predicted that in two years, 80 per cent of internet traffic will be online video, including everything from short social media videos, YouTube videos, and internet-to-TV videos. Just three years ago, that figure was 64 per cent.

That is not surprising. From personal work experience, I have also found from my marketing and branding consultancy that including a video in a social media marketing campaign is one of the best tools to get our message out there.

Many of Instagram’s GCC influencers have also started YouTube channels where they document their lives or discuss a topic of interest.

It does not stop only at influencers; many users have also started travel channels, or enjoy documenting their daily lives and sharing it with the world -as in the case of two of my teenage cousins.

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SnapChat is one of the tools that is making the job more simple with its easy to add filters and video upload. The fact that the video will be deleted in 24 hours, one of SnapChat’s perks, has also encouraged many to upload silly videos that they know would not live in the internet forever and nor would they want them to.

But to predict whether video content will make written content obsolete and video become dominant is difficult, as much research online reveals.

Although e-books and videos are increasing in popularity, physical books have become popular again. The hashtag on Instagram - #bookstagram, for instance, - is gaining a growing following, where users share beautiful covers of books.

Penguin has republished classic books with a new artistic look, which have been very trendy mainly due to their own beautifully designed covers and how they have been marketed as collectibles.

Two of my friends are big fans and are always on the lookout for new, special editions by publishing houses, which they can add to their library, and decorate their social media feed with.

Still, as you market your brand, and especially if you are active on social media or if you want to raise awareness about your brand through its many channels, discounting video as a marketing tool is a huge mistake.

Video is not only more instantly engaging, especially for those on the go, it is also easy to share, via Whatsapp for instance, or other messenger tools. In the GCC, Whatsapp messages are mainly delivered in video format. GCC nationals are also very visual, and like concise information especially when it is consumed online.

According to Global Media Insight, the top active social chat apps and messengers in Saudi Arabia, for instance, are Whatsapp, followed by Facebook messenger and Skype. In addition the kingdom has the highest penetration of Twitter users in the world. The per capita consumption of YouTube is also the highest in the world.

Video marketing will not go away anytime soon. The availability of different video sharing platforms has made it easier than ever to share your story.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi.