Social media video tips: the art of standing out in crowded feeds

Anyone working in digital marketing knows the power of video. Even still, the statistics can astound.

Social media video tips

On Facebook alone, there are eight billion daily video views. On Instagram, the time spent watching video increased by more than 80% from 2016 to 2017.

All that adds up to a lot of competition to win those coveted eyeballs. It can seem overwhelming and, for many, the video format is more than a little intimidating.

For that reason, we’ve compiled some simple tips to give your Facebook and Instagram videos more stopping power.

Your window is fleeting, so make it count

A big driver in video consumption is the shift to mobile viewing. But with that comes our fickle and accelerated mobile viewing habits.

Nothing shows how the social-mobile mix has impacted our viewing habits more than the fact that even TV networks are experimenting with six-second ad spots.

That’s about the same length of the time it took you to read that sentence.

Does that mean anything beyond six-seconds is a waste of effort?

Thankfully not, though according to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, six-second ads yielded “higher brand metrics across the board.”

A Facebook study released this year gives the following advice in regards to video ads:

With in-stream video ads (the kind before or during other videos), they recommend a length of five to 15 seconds.

For standalone ads in News Feed, Facebook recommends times of 15 seconds or shorter, stating, “Shorter videos have higher completion rates, so you can successfully share your entire message.”

So how do you make it rain in a matter of seconds?

Get your branding in right away

As in the first three seconds, according to Facebook.

Team Zuckerberg’s meta-analysis of video marketing data revealed that consumers were 23% more likely to remember a brand if its video ad mentioned the brand in the first three seconds and 13% more likely if the brand was featured around the four-second mark or later.

It still takes razor-sharp copy

Whatever the new technological bell and whistles, your video’s engagement success still rides a lot on the copy elements. This begins with its title and description. Even with our rapid-fire consumption habits, it seems people still expect the purpose of the video to be as clear and up-front as possible.

There is also an SEO element here: the title and description tell Facebook’s targeting algorithms about the topic of your video, so be sure to add the keywords that will place it in front of a relevant audience.

Old-timey wordsmithing also goes a long way still. Wochit studied more than 33,000 Facebook videos and found that certain phrases in titles got way more video views than others:

This graph breaks down average views on videos with titles sporting common phrases versus how frequently those phrases were used (phrases at the top are the most used).

The most successful headlines included more clickbait-y phrases such as “to know about” and “what you need.” Those with classic listicle numbers did well too.

When it comes to placing your all-important call-to-action, the middle of the video is considered the optimal spot. Placing a CTA at the beginning is obviously counter-intuitive, while the problem with the conventional closing CTA is that it will only be seen by the few to watch it right through.

No one’s listening, deal with it

Already in 2016, 85% of Facebook videos were viewed with the sound turned off. Even though Facebook auto-plays videos with the sound on for desktop users, many people expect this and put their Facebook tab on mute before browsing.

The data backs up this advice—adding Facebook video ad subtitles increases view times by 12% on average.

It’s a question of perspective

As mentioned at the beginning, video and mobile are mutual drivers.

According to emarketer, by 2019 72% of online video viewing will take place on a mobile device.

For that reason, when it comes to Facebook video specs, a 9:16 vertical format or 1:1 square is advised. This is due to the fact that on mobile, square videos occupy an incredible 78% more space.

Obviously, more space means a lot more canvas to garner engagement on. One study found that square videos recieve 35% more views and 100% more engagement than horizontal videos.

Match the format to your desired objective

We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to video formats.

There are GIFS, Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories ads, sponsored live videos, sponsored 360 videos, or in-stream ads (to name a few). The question is, which one should you use when? It depends on what you want to achieve.

If you just want views, a short, attention-grabbing GIF or a vertical video ad would be ideal.

If it’s brand awareness you want, video carousel ads and in-stream video ads should be your go-to. These will spur memory without being too taxing on time.

If you aim to get people talking about your video, a more immersive format like a sponsored live or 360 video will attract viewers who are more likely to react to your content.

Video: the future of your feed

If you aren’t already prioritizing video, you will have no choice but to adapt sooner rather than later.

With so many formats, fads and networks to choose from, it can get a little confusing---but as with all things social media related, it’s often the small things that could give your brand the edge.

If you would like more video inspiration---and in the spirit of the looming Fifa World Cup---check out how your favorite football clubs are using video in What the Premier League can teach brands about social media engagement.

Christopher Sugrue, content & communications team lead, Falcon.io

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