Videos on social media have quickly become a mainstay in how people consume news and entertainment, with traditional media like television, newspapers, and magazines taking a hit. While this trend towards online video-sharing and streaming platforms has been evident in the recent past, COVID-19 has accelerated this shift. Millions across the world are stuck indoors for days, weeks, or even months at a time, giving countless a reason to seek out engaging content online to keep themselves entertained during this period. For instance, the early months of the pandemic saw video consumption on mobile phones increase across Southeast Asia by 60%, with Netflix in particular seeing a 115% surge in uptake.

With more discovering the incredible variety of video content that exists online, YouTube creators, Twitch streamers, and social media stars are more influential than ever before. By establishing close relationships with their fans and providing brands with opportunities to reach their target markets, being a social media influencer in the video space is only becoming more lucrative.

It’s also becoming easier for beginners to get started on these platforms as smartphone technology becomes better, cheaper, and easier to handle.

Trends Affecting Video Consumption

However, the explosive increase in video consumption rates can’t simply be attributed to the pandemic alone. It is the combination of emerging smartphone technology, social media trends, and streaming platforms that has caused video consumption to change.

1. A streaming platform for every type of content

Besides Netflix and Amazon Prime, the likes of Viu, Disney+, and Apple TV+ give audiences even more streaming options. These popular platforms bring together stunning movies, television series, documentaries, cartoons and more. There are even niche platforms that cater to small, but dedicated audiences. For example, MUBI and The Projector Plus stream indie and avant-garde movies on demand.

Best yet, a whole month of Netflix costs around the same as a single trip to your local cinema, making it a major reason to stay in.

On top of the low cost and wide array of content available on streaming platforms, they're also accessible on a range of devices. For example, you can sign into your Netflix app on a smartphone, tablet, or TV! This means watching whether at home, on your lunch break, or travelling. Most platforms also allow users to have multiple accounts, giving everyone in your household the ability to watch content uninterrupted and receive personalised recommendations.

2. Video drives social media engagement

In 2017, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg said: “I see video as a megatrend.” Today, it’s impossible to deny that video has become the top-performing content across every social media platform. As consumers have gravitated towards watching video content, the algorithms that support platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter continue to drive this content to the top of our feeds. In fact, research shows Twitter posts that include videos receive as much as 10 times more engagement, while videos on Instagram generate an estimated 21% more engagement than regular posts.

These statistics are reflected in the changes made to most social media platforms. The likes of Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and Facebook Reels are all about sharing short videos. Even WhatsApp has a similar feature. And of course, TikTok has seen enormous success, with the platform amassing a global user base of more than a billion active users.

As anyone with a smartphone and access to the internet can create an account and start posting videos online, it’s no surprise that many are gravitating towards these innovative platforms.

3. Smartphone tech is only going better

Mobile phones have had an enormous impact on the way we consume online content. People who want to be creators can easily start filming, editing, and uploading videos to platforms like YouTube and Twitch thanks to smartphones now having multiple high-quality cameras and microphones, perfect for the content creation.

Considering how several feature films have been shot entirely on smartphones, the average YouTuber shouldn’t have a problem putting the technology in their pocket to good use. However, for those who want to take their content to the next level, there are plenty of accessories that ensure your videos look highly professional. You can purchase gimbals and stabilisers, to shoot more compelling videos.

If you're more interested in watching videos, smartphones have also revolutionised the experience. With the screens and speakers on new smartphones making it easy to watch YouTube videos and stream movies. Plus, as telco companies like M1 identify this trend, they create Bespoke mobile data plans that are highly customisable and flexible so customers can watch videos day and night without having to be concerned about their data use.

Significant Growth of YouTube During the Pandemic

As the world responded to the pandemic with restrictions and social distancing measures put into place, people turned their attention to online video-sharing platforms for entertainment, connection, and education. In the United States, YouTube usage grew from 73% of adults in 2019 to 81% in 2021. In Singapore, YouTube watch time grew by 30% from the previous year.

With people advised to stay at home as much as possible, fitness content experienced the largest growth. From meditative yoga instructors to gym junkies looking to keep up with their routines, channels like Pamela Reif and Chloe Ting have seen a massive surge in subscribers in Singapore and abroad. Other categories that underwent enormous growth included cooking and gaming content, and many creators in these spaces amassed thousands of followers.

If you follow local YouTubers, you’ve probably heard of Sneaky Sushii. His hilarious commentaries on life in Singapore, memes, and pop-culture references mock low-effort creators and poke fun at the superficial nature of the world online. With around 10,000 subscribers at the start of the pandemic, Sneaky Sushii now boasts over 150,000 fans who love his sarcasm. The Spice N’ Pans cooking channel also exploded in popularity, racking up tens of millions of views on their recipe videos.

Moreover, with parents at home with their kids, online content has proved a saving grace. An estimated 70% of kids spend at least 4 hours of screen time a day, increasing from pre-pandemic usage, where usage was estimated at less than 3 hours per day. In particular, YouTube has proven most popular, with 62% of parents saying their children use the platform for video or entertainment content.

Youtube's influence is so strong that rather than wanting to be astronauts, firemen, actors or teachers, American and British kids now aspire to become YouTubers. They’re not alone, though, and Chinese children too consider online creators as one of the best possible occupations. With megastars like PewDiePie and MrBeast attracting millions of fans from every country, it’s no wonder that kids want to emulate the influencers they see on their screens every day.

Content Creators are Driving Brand Success

With eyes increasingly focused on creators on platforms like YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, and TikTok, the biggest brands are looking to leverage video content to promote their products and services. In fact, the latest data tells us that people expect brands to create reviews, unboxings, and demos for their products, so we fully understand what we’re buying. Meanwhile, a comprehensive survey found that 70% of respondents want ads to align with their mood, plus 29% expect ads to be relevant to the video content they’re watching. This has seen companies partner with YouTube personalities with a similar audience, capitalising on the special relationship that exists between YouTubers and their followers.

Brands and the creators have realised the power of influencers to sway buying decisions. As the follower count for YouTubers and social media influencers continued to soar, so did the revenue they could demand for branded posts and endorsements. These days, the world’s top creators can charge upwards of a million dollars for a sponsored post on their channel. As fans develop parasocial relationships with their favourite creators, brands know how a good recommendation could see their product explode in popularity. For instance, Bretman Rock. Having made his start on YouTube and Vine in 2011, his frank and “no holds barred” personality has garnered much attention. So much so that his influence on redefining masculinity has made him a major collaborator with the major makeup brand – Morphe, with the Morphe X Bretman collection, a makeup line that celebrates diversity and represents everyday people.

However, a brand’s video marketing campaign has to be more compelling than a straightforward ad if they hope to convince a modern audience to make a purchase. People want to understand exactly what a company stands for and how it relates to their lifestyle. Influencer marketing has, therefore, been great for brands to reach their ideal customers. As YouTubers and social media influencers have already developed close relationships with their audiences, brands that partner with the right content creator can leverage on this trust to encourage purchases. Although there’s always the risk of creators exploiting their fans' support, their reputations are on the line whenever they recommend a product. Take, for example, the ‘Save the Kids’ ($KIDS) crypto scandal that involved well-known influencers, including the FaZe Clan, Ricegum, and more. As these influencers began promoting the cryptocurrency token as a solid long-term investment and an initiative that would aid charity, their followers began pumping money into it. As soon as this happened, the influencers sold off their tokens and took off with the money, crashing the value of the $KIDS token rendering the crypto all but worthless for all the followers who bought into it.

Drama that Might Ensue

20% of consumers have stated that they’ve unfollowed brands on social platforms because they felt these brands’ content was inauthentic. From big names like Kim Kardashian who promoted morning sickness pills without disclosing their harmful side effects, to the biggest festival flops such as the FYRE festival in 2017, should an influencer promote products that they don’t use or do not align with their personal brand, one thing is for sure - their “influencer impact” will be eroded. Consider the recent “grooming” scandal revolving around James Charles. Makeup lovers all over the world have been using the hashtag #BoycottMorphe in an attempt to have the makeup brand remove all products under the Morphe X James Charles collaboration.

Creatives Building Their Own Empire

However, there are instances where collaborations go amazingly well, at times even kick-starting an influencers’ own business ventures. One example is that of Zoe Sugg. Famously known as Zoella, she’s one of the OG influencers on YouTube. With her most viewed YouTube video having racked up 23 million views, people were very interested in what she had to say. From vlogger to now multimillion-dollar business woman, the jump from recording bedroom makeup videos in 2009 to an author with a fast selling-debut novel, the “Zoella'' brand name is highly sought-after till this day.

Freedom to Explore Taboo Topics

YouTube has become a powerful platform for creators because it provides a way to reach a like-minded audience, earn a living, and spark conversations at the same time. While those who work in traditional media have network executives, producers, and regulators dictating what they can and can't discuss, YouTubers can simply switch on the camera, record, and publish. This means there’s a larger freedom to explore sensitive topics that mainstream media outlets can't cover, and many creators in Singapore have taken advantage of this.

One example is The Backstage Bunch – a relatively new addition to Singapore's YouTube scene. Hosted by some of the country’s most popular social media influencers, the channel is nearing 60,000 subscribers since its launch in 2020, and almost every episode of this open-ended talk show receives well over 100,000 views. With famous Singapore-based creators like Jade Rasif, Saffron Sharpe, and Dew Francis leading honest discussions around sex, relationships, and the LGBTQ+ community, The Backstage Bunch’s light-hearted format has proved successful.

Similarly, RealTalk by MOSG is another local YouTube talk show that delves into controversial topics that young people love to engage with online. From dating and kinks to issues around sexual harassment, the channel’s 204,000 subscribers regularly join the conversation. With both these channels having young audiences who want to hear the hosts' opinions, these kinds of YouTubers are perfect for brands looking to reach millennials and gen Z-s.

Catch Up with the Latest Video Creators Today

With modern devices and affordable mobile data plans, it is easier than ever to consume video content online. Whether you’d like to express yourself on TikTok with the best mobile phones or catch up with your favourite influencer’s videos, grab the latest and greatest devices from M1. With our Bespoke Flexi plans, you can grab an iPad Pro or a Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G for as low as $0 upfront. So what are you waiting for? Sign up for a mobile plan with device today!