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According to The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, 71% of all internet users in the United States have used a video sharing site; over a quarter used one in the previous day.

That number is relatively consistent across demographic groups. For instance, usage hovers between nearly 70% to 80% for most age groups, ethnicities, household incomes, education levels and geographic locations.

In other words, the use of online video sharing sites is both widespread and mainstream.

Obviously, this probably isn't a surprise. Services like YouTube didn't become popular yesterday. Yet despite the numbers, many companies still fail to incorporate video into their content strategies. But they probably should.

That's because video offers a number of compelling advantages:

Distribution.

Getting your website to the top of the SERPs can be difficult, and most companies won't realistically have content that can be syndicated. With video content, companies have the ability to leverage the audiences of some of the internet's most popular sites.

And they typically have multiple modes of distribution. Upload a video to YouTube, for instance, and you can easily embed it on your own website or third party websites.

The ability to convey messages in powerful, emotional ways.

Even the best copywriter may find it difficult to craft a message that stands out. Video, as an audiovisual medium, presents some challenges of its own, but video content has the potential, for many companies, to sell an idea (or product or service) better than the written word.

Not a lot of people are doing it.

The fact that many companies are ignoring video, thinking it too difficult or costly to use, create opportunities for creative competitors to stand out in places where they have little to no competition.

The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project figures are a reminder that video is here and here to stay.

Companies that aren't taking advantage of it in their content strategies, and that ignore the distribution platforms that support its popularity, increasingly risk missing out.

Patricio Robles

Published 27 July, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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