Over the past five years there has been a huge change in how we consume media and interact with brands. 2015 was the year of mobile where usage on handheld devices overtook desktop for the first time, heralding a significant change in the consumer’s path to purchase.

Brands can no long simply broadcast sales messages as the smartphone enabled user now determines how they research, review, interact and ultimately buy online. Spending more and more of our time on phones means customers don’t expect the same old content and are increasingly turning to social media for inspiration, peer recommendations, brand offers and announcements.

So social is incredibly important in influencing this customer journey, as users are now spending up to an hour and forty minutes every day on social media platforms with 80% of that time being on their mobiles. This makes social the constant force in our digital lives and the channel that holds most of our attention throughout the buying cycle (whether they realise it or not).

In this new socially driven mobile-first world customers, who are constantly bombarded with content, are increasingly turning to video when making decisions, with millennials four times more likely to watch a video than read about a product.

So although the medium of video is nothing new the engagement and conversion benefits it brings to brands online is only now just being realised.

Video isn’t just a powerful marketing tool but has become top of the agenda for social networks. Facebook, where we spend up to fifty minutes of our day, has been jealously watching as YouTube ad revenues have ballooned to a whopping $9billion a year, that’s more than all social advertising across every network combined! As a result Facebook is quickly realising that video isn’t just their media future but the ultimate long term revenue stream that will be reflected in their share price.

Having arrived late to the native video game Facebook is now doing all in its power to encourage brands to turn away from YouTube as their main video hosting channel. For the last few years brands have seen their organic reach on Facebook plummet by a staggering 80%, significantly disrupting how brands and publishers influence their audiences.

However in their determination to attract as much unique video to the network as possible, Facebook is now incentivising brands by giving their video content ten times greater reach than their text, image and YouTube video posts.

Taking this even further Facebook is also aggressively promoting (even relying on TV advertising above all things) live streaming on the network. Facebook Live doesn’t just provide you with great reusable videos for your feed but also notifies your audience when you’re about to broadcast.

So video isn’t just a differentiator any more but is expected to become the main content format online and across social media with Cisco predicting that by 2019 video will be 80% of online traffic.

By Kevin Mullaney, head of digital, Flagship Consulting