Video is the king of all content on social media. Our posts with images and pithy one-liners are fun, but video drives conversations and connections with friends like nothing else.

Think back to the last time you visited a favorite social media newsfeed. Maybe you’re there now. As you scroll and click, scroll and click, what catches your eye?

In most cases, it’s a moving image that makes us stop.

When we see a video that starts on its own, shared by someone we trust, or with content we immediately recognize and like (e.g., food, sports, comedian), we’re hooked.

The old way of watching those videos was very solitary. If we’re in a private viewing space, we might turn up the sound. If we’re in a public space, we grab some headphones.

The new way to watch video is more, well, social. We’re being asked to interact, rather than passively watching. Social media companies want us to participate in the viewing experience with others, much like we do when watching TV with friends and family.

Liking, sharing and commenting on videos are all still important parts of the social media experience. The next step is inviting others into the viewing experience with you.

Over the past month, social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter have celebrated the video end of their respective platforms, but in slightly different ways.

Facebook’s Watch feature, for example, is a video content platform built around the idea that watching video connects us more deeply with people than other types of content.

“You have virtually unlimited ways – comments, shares, reactions, polls, Groups, messages, Watch Parties, and more – to connect with people around the videos you love,” said Paresh Rajwat, Director of Product Management, and Matthew Henick, Head of Content Planning and Strategy.

Facebook launched Watch globally less than a year ago, and there are now more than 720 million people monthly and 140 million people daily.

“On average, the daily visitors spend more than 26 minutes in Watch,” Rajwat and Henick said.

“Watch isn’t just a place to find videos and shows you love, it’s a place where you can explore and engage with other people who love them, too. These connections let people experience content in a whole new way, and we are focused on making Watch even more social.”

Twitter recently added a new feature for including additional guests in our streaming video sessions.

“Conversations on Twitter can take place in many ways, and our latest update to live video brings another dimension to how you can discuss what’s happening,” Twitter posted in a news release in late May.

Twitter says they’ve learned how valuable this feature is for people who want to discuss topics together, in the same virtual space, but in different locations.

Plus, as Twitter notes, “When you can chat live together, it’s more fun.”

Adam Earnheardt is chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University. Follow him on Twitter at @adamearn and on his blog at www.adamearn.com.

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