Watch out, the number numpties are about

Pic: Lord Lucan Lives/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Since Facebook passed a billion monthly active users, the actual number has become somewhat forgettable. Or perhaps it’s since the world’s biggest social network became bigger than the biggest country in the world, that there’s not much left to compare it with.

So now we know it’s bigger than a big thing, the number numpties have been looking for a new statistic to make people feel small again.

Ah yes, VIDEO!

Apparently, it’s the next ‘next big thing’ that’s actually already here, and if you’re not careful, you’ll miss out. That’s what you’re being led to believe… by the numpties who think that reciting big numbers makes them look knowledgeable.

Only, it’s all a load of poppycock. In my humble opinion.

Video IS a big thing… for people who have a vested interest in video. For everyone else, it’s horses for courses.

Commandment #1: Thou shalt make video

But why is everyone else knocking their pan in trying to get you to make videos? Should we not be advocating quality over quantity. Last week, I met a businessman, three weeks from retirement age, and he said something that sums up the entire modern marketing scene.

He said: “If people don’t know something, they’ll believe anything.”

How true is that of social media? I’ve asked this before and I still don’t have the answer. “Why do sensible people capable of running successful businesses get sucked in by wishy-washy numbers rolled out by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Utter nonsense

Professor Mark Ritson, one of my favourite commentators on social metrics, agrees ‘no-one has a clue about digital’ (you can signup or skip the option)’ and if you think YouTube is really the video service that killed TV, read his ‘Comparing TV audiences to digital views is utter nonsense’ post.

Let’s bring on advertising chief Martin Sorrell who questions whether ‘brands have over-invested in digital’ when Proctor and Gamble revealed devastating results using targeted advertising when compared with a mass-market approach.

Facebook could be lying to us and we would never know. I wrote recently in ‘I don’t work for Facebook‘, sometimes the only reliable metric is pounds and pence, because there’s no independent policing of measurements. See Tim Schmoyer’s video at the bottom of the page.

Even when Facebook was massively caught out last September for misreporting its video views, people clung to the old numbers. And since the new numbers don’t make pleasant reading, the old ones are floating to the top in any Google search.

Big numbers, big bucks

TV has been around since the mid-50s, video is nothing new. But it has become easier to make, easier to publish and easier to view. However,  the incessant assault of video is driving quality lower and lower, and people are literally being forced to make videos, not because their products deserve it, but because of these numbers.

We must also remember that the numbers represent the kind of videos that consumers post on a friend-to-friend network. We must always remember that adverts are not what people are sharing or reacting to.

The irony is, that the middlemen touting these stats have fallen hook, line and sinker for the numbers because in their world, only millions and billions count. These people should be heralding a warning that the video landscape is getting crowded, how only the best videos will rise to the top, but it will be harder and more expensive to get noticed amongst the thousands, millions, and billions.

A hundred million hours of video watched every day? What does that actually mean for you when you really only want or need to reach 50,000 people, or even 10,000? Does 100 million make video more attractive than one million? Does it not actually mean that if you had a video, it would be swamped by meaningless tripe – videos of people falling off park benches, their bike, their exercise ball and other pixelated pranks and in-joke selfies. Because that’s what makes up most of the 100 million hours you’re being promised is going to be the difference between your business booming or busting.

And here’s another: 75% of people who watch a video buy the product. I’m sorry, but that’s just so vague, it doesn’t hold the value it promises. I invite anybody to justify that figure with convinvcing data.

Businesses who know how to market have always been aware of the power of video. Number numpties touting their millions and billions are just a distraction.

And now, some video

I’ll leave you with this. It’s a video about numbers, and it’s been viewed 89 million times. Imagine what it could do for your business!

On a more serious note, check out Tim’s Schmoyer’s much needed revealing comparison of Facebook and YouTube statistics.

Neither of these videos will make this post perform better or reach more people, but they do illustrate my point, and that’s what I mean when I say horses for courses.