In 2014, there was a dramatic shift to visual content on social networks like Facebook, especially to video. Today, people are not only watching more, but they’re uploading more video as well. In just one year, the number of Facebook video posts per person increased 75 percent globally and 94 percent in the U.S.
Video is engaging and immersive. It allows for remarkable storytelling on social media whether you’re breaking news, promoting a product, or educating customers. Averaging 3 billion video views every day, the format has become an incredible asset to Facebook marketers. As we continue navigating this shift in visual content, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Optimize Video for News Feed
Seventy-six percent of people in the U.S. who use Facebook said that they tend to discover the videos they watch on the social network. But you have to ask yourself, where do people spend most of their time on Facebook? The News Feed.
As more video is uploaded directly to the platform, it’s becoming an increasingly important part of the News Feed. In fact, the amount of video from people and brands in News Feed has increased 3.6 times year-over-year, changing the very composition of the most popular feature Facebook has to offer.
According to the social network, the most important thing to remember when creating video for the platform is that it will be part of News Feed. On the surface this is fantastic because it increases your chances for engagement. But what you have to be aware of as a content creator is that people will discover videos in News Feed next to a photo or status update from a friend or family member.
This challenges you to create something that strikes a delicate balance between fitting in well with social content while standing out enough to avoid getting lost in the shuffle. It’s not an easy task, but it’s achievable. On top of that, your video needs to be something that your audience will want to watch and share.
You’re essentially asking viewers to ignore that update from their BFF to watch your video, so it had better be worthwhile. Would you scroll past a photo from a friend for your video? If not, it’s time to revisit the drawing board.
Hook People in the First Frame
Videos began coming to life in 2014 with auto-play as people scrolled through their News Feeds. After this feature’s introduction, the platform found that people discovered significantly more content. In fact, auto-play led to a more than 50 percent increase in video views in just two months, according to Facebook.
Keep in mind, however, that people need to watch a video for three seconds for it to be counted as a view. So even though you’re confident that your video will outshine that status update from someone’s BFF, will it take longer than three seconds to convince the viewer of that?
Three seconds is a small window, but it doesn’t take that long for someone to scroll away. With auto-play, it’s important to focus on posting videos that hook people from the very first frame. Lead with imagery that immediate catches the eye.
Additionally, your auto-play videos should be:
- Short and timely: Your video is competing with a ton of other content in News Feed. Don’t demand too much of your viewers’ attention right away. A three-minute video is a huge investment when compared to a six-second Vine or 15-second Instagram post.
- Able to stand on their own without sound: Although viewers don’t have to click “play” to watch your video, they do have to enable sound. Make it easier on them by posting a video that doesn’t require sound to be enjoyable.
- Targeted: Auto-play settings now allow viewers to turn the feature on or off depending on their Internet connection. Targeting mobile users might not be the best choice as they’re most likely to have turned auto-play off to save on data.
- Compelling and original: Videos should be something no one else will have and that viewers can’t find on any of your other social profiles.
- Cosmopolitan Magazine launched a Facebook-exclusive series of short, funny, and shareable videos tailor-made for News Feed. As a result, those videos generated 53 percent more shares than other posts on Cosmo’s Facebook Page.
Focus on Native Videos
Last June, Facebook improved the way it ranks videos in News Feed. Now the social network considers whether someone has watched a video and for how long they watched it in addition to more standard factors, which include Likes, comments, and shares.
This is huge for content creators as Facebook can only measure watch time for videos posted directly to the platform. Ranking and auto-play for native videos puts links copied and pasted from other video hosting sites, such as YouTube, at a major disadvantage, especially since people must click to play those videos.
This doesn’t mean that it’s the end for video content from YouTube. Far from it, actually. But it does give businesses a competitive edge when they use the social network’s native video. Beauty brands TRESemmé and Nexxus saw an 85 times lift in view rates using videos uploaded to Facebook during Fashion Week 2014 versus their previous Fashion Week campaign, which linked to videos from other players.
It comes back to the goal of your campaign. If you’re sharing an exclusive video with select Facebook fans, it’s worth uploading it directly to the platform. However, if you’re just spreading awareness or trying to earn the max number of views possible, then cross-posting a video won’t be disadvantageous. Consider this when crafting your social media and content strategies.
Think About What Comes Next
Getting someone to watch your video is only one piece of the puzzle; it’s what comes next that truly matters. Instead of allowing viewers to scroll away once the video ends, engage them further by adding a call-to-action. Invite people to visit a destination, such as your website, where they can learn more, make a purchase, and so on. Examples of good video calls-to-action include “Learn More,” “Watch More,” “Shop Now,” and “Sign Up.”
You might also consider uploading more videos to your Facebook Page. Last September, Facebook started testing a new mobile feature that’ll display additional related videos that viewers might find interesting. We recommend consulting your video insights to understand what people enjoy seeing and what doesn’t work so you can continue producing videos that resonate with people and perform well.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.