Facebook is quickly overtaking YouTube as the best place for businesses to post videos. Oh, plenty of content creators will stay on YouTube; it’s still a better place for most types of content. Facebook, however, offers so much more for business owners, and you don’t have to compete with the likes of Gangnam Style for views. Spoilers: you’d lose.
There’s a lot that goes in to Facebook marketing. Really, there’s a lot more than you might expect. Just look at all of the resources Copyblogger put together. Dozens of deep articles about specific aspects of the greater Facebook marketing setup, at your fingertips.
According to Facebook themselves, video for marketers is on the rise. They claimed in a September press release that video views grew by more than 50% from May through July, and in June they passed 1 billion video views every day.
The Benefits of Facebook Video
Facebook’s video has a lot going for it, though some people still rebel against the whole idea. Facebook loves it; it’s earning them ad revenue and it’s getting marketers to stick around despite otherwise declining organic reach. What does Facebook have going for it in terms of video?
- Massive view counts. As mentioned, Facebook earns videos a collective billion views per day, and rising. In fact, according to Social Bakers, Facebook actually bumped YouTube off the list as the top dog in video hosting. More people posted videos to Facebook than to YouTube as recently as November. Of course, this is just an analysis of a mere 20,000 accounts, a bare fraction of what’s out there.
- Visible engagement metrics. Part of the problem with Facebook video early on was the lack of social reinforcement. People like watching videos that have millions of views; it shows them that the video is socially vetted, that there are millions of people who probably like the video. It’s worth their time to watch, so they’ll give it a try.
- Autoplay videos. Eschewing the traditional “don’t autoplay anything, it’s distressing and obnoxious,” Facebook has implemented a rollover autoplay on all their videos, including video ads. How this works is that any time a user has a video on screen for more than a second – that is, they aren’t scrolling past it – the video will begin to play automatically. The video player saves user settings, so the user can mute all videos globally and unmute the videos they want to hear. It is, essentially, the least disruptive autoplay video setup in modern web design.
- The Video View Objective. When you run an advertisement or a promoted post on Facebook, you can select a specific objective to track. It’s like traditional PPC, only your C – click – might be an email opt-in or, now, a video view. Using the video views objective, you can run PPC ads that only charge you for the times the video is played. Of course, coupled with the autoplay features, this can be dangerous; you don’t know if that view converted into something useful without further measurement. Then again, with Facebook’s robust Insights panel, you can find that information.
- Fierce mobile presence. According to Facebook, more than 65% of their video views come from mobile devices. Obviously, this means their videos play on mobile devices, which isn’t always the case with other video hosts, particularly the issue-ridden YouTube players available for different mobile devices.
- Social capabilities. YouTube comments have a reputation for being an insipid hive of ignorance, and while I’m sure yours are different, there’s still a stigma attached to the platform. Facebook has no such stigma, and includes some additional features, like tagging people to gain their attention for the video.
And, on top of all of that, you’re already using Facebook as one of your primary hubs for marketing. Posting your videos on Facebook keeps your users present and engaged, rather than shuttling them to another profile on another site.
How to Enhance Facebook Video Views
Video is too huge to ignore, but there’s more to it than just posting videos and letting them live in the wild. You need to do everything you can, like rehabilitating a wild animal, to give it the chance to thrive.
1. Focus on value. People are short on time, content floods the market, and it’s more important than ever to bring something – humor, information, knowledge, emotion – to the people who view your videos.
The point is to bring something to the table. You’re not using videos to sell your products, you’re using videos to gain attention and attraction. You want users to think, hey, this video made me laugh, maybe it will make Janice laugh, I better share it! This is why so much content is never shown; it’s only relevant to the person posting it, not to the people who might see it.
Too much content that isn’t shared ends up a death sentence. The way Facebook’s algorithms work, if people stop clicking your content, Facebook will stop showing it to them. Then, even if you post something great, no one will see it.
2. Minimize long introductions and ads. You have less than 15 seconds to hook their attention or they’ll scroll away. If you take any longer to get to the value, your users are just going to scroll on by and leave your video more or less unplayed.
Try to start in the midst of the car chase, so to speak. Don’t include any sort of introduction, or if you do, put it a few seconds into the content, like how TV shows will cut to the title after the first minute or two of footage.
3. Keep videos under 2 minutes. These earn the most shares, though they may not have the most long-term value. Save deep, hour-long content videos for the most interested, opted-in people. Videos under 1 minute see the most shares of any videos on Facebook.
This applies to every form of engagement. Shorter videos are easier to watch than longer videos, so more people watch them. Shorter videos, when completed, give the user an immediate reaction they can post as a comment. They can immediately share it with their friends. They can like it instantly.
4. Pick the best thumbnail. Facebook doesn’t autoplay 100% of the time, particularly on mobile. You can right-click on videos to edit them and select the best of the thumbnails offered by the random choice algorithm Facebook uses. Facebook might eventually allow a custom thumbnail, but for now, that option is not in place.
You can game the system here by creating what you would like in a custom thumbnail and using your video editing software to insert it in the video, either as a starting title after a bit of content, or near the end as closing credits. You can then have a pretty good chance that Facebook will select a frame of that clip as one of its randomly chosen thumbnails, and you can choose that as your custom thumbnail. It’s a bit barbaric – YouTube moved past this system years ago – but it works.
5. Cap on a call to action. You can’t make a full-on video endcap like you can on YouTube, because your videos don’t have links embedded in them through annotations. Instead, just say something simple; don’t forget to like and share! Don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list if you like what you’ve seen! Don’t forget to follow our page for more great videos! All it takes is a second, and it gives you an easy boost to engagement.