When it comes to Facebook, a video-first strategy should no longer be a question of why, but rather a question of how.
Now that the platform has reached 2 billion monthly active users, it has become clear to most brands and savvy marketers that the video—despite a higher cost of entry than other types of content—is the future of the platform.
Don’t believe me? Take it from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself: “I see video as a megatrend,” he said on a recent earnings call with investors. “That’s why I’m going to keep putting video first across our family of apps.”
If your brand hasn’t invested in Facebook video yet, now is the time. And if you already have video as part of your content strategy, here are some tips and best practices to help your creative stand out in your audience’s feed.
Get to the Point
In an environment where users’ News Feeds are filled with an endless stream of content, it’s become critically important to capture a user’s attention quickly. This is even more true on mobile, as people scroll through mobile News Feed 41% faster than desktop News Feed. So while :15 and :30 second spots may be king of the TV advertising world, in a recent test with Tropicana, Facebook found that 6-second ads emerged as the top-performing ad unit.
So please, don’t merely repurpose your TV spot for social. Communicate your message quickly, consider video thumbnail images and titles that will hook people into your story, and utilize brand colors, themes, and imagery to help users connect the video to your brand.
Is Anyone Listening?
Nope… well, okay maybe.
Historically, videos in the News Feed played without sound, and it was reported last year that 85% of Facebook videos were watched without sound. Marketers “hacked” this challenge by including captions or text on their videos to help tell their stories. However, Facebook ran a recent test to understand whether people enjoy a default sound on experience in the News Feed. Early data showed that 70% of video watch time is with sound on, and in 2017 Facebook videos began autoplaying with sound when the volume of a user’s phone is turned up.
Given the gray area here, it may be worth running a test on your brand’s page of the same video with sound vs. no sound to see if there is any difference in performance. Regardless of whether sound is included in the video, we recommend continuing to use captions as a way to ensure that your full message gets across.
Know Your Specs
While TV and desktop videos may use horizontal screens, industry research suggests mobile phones are used in portrait mode 98% of the time. Facebook recently improved the vertical video experience to make these videos fill the entire phone screen (previously a user would see black bars on either side of the screen).
In addition, Facebook worked with 10 brand advertisers to test the impact of vertical video ads against horizontal and square video ads. Seven of the 10 tests showed that vertical video ads drove an incremental increase in brand lift, including a three- to nine-point increase in ad recall.
Therefore, Facebook content creators should consider shooting video for vertical and mobile from the start, instead of modifying existing horizontal creative to have the maximum impact. It’s a good idea to align on channel use for video content before heading into production to ensure that assets captured will look their best once published on the feed.
Fake It ’Til You Make It
Can’t afford video? You could always fake it.
Because Facebook’s algorithm favors video content over posts that contain a static image, some brands have begun experimenting with “static videos”—loading a single image to the platform as an mp4 (or other video) file in an effort to sneak past the algorithm and score a bigger reach.
Some brands consider this tactic a smart workaround (Buzzfeed, for instance, has used this method) while others find it a bit questionable. USA Today’s VP of Video Content and Strategy went so far as to say, “It’s certainly not a technique, tactic, or test that any premium publisher like USA Today Network would entertain, as it doesn’t align with our values.”
It may not be an ideal setup—but it’s always worth considering the full range of tools you are given.
Test, Learn, and Optimize
We’re not launching a 30-second TV spot that will run the same way for months at a time. Social moves fast—but we can constantly learn from past performance, and optimize in near real-time in order to be able to tell brand stories most effectively.
Facebook videos, especially on mobile, are still a relatively new storytelling medium with formats and best practices that are constantly evolving. So try out new formats like Facebook Canvas, experiment, and have fun telling your brand’s stories in new ways!