We list five common features of successful Facebook videos, and explore how publishers can make the most of their footage in the news feed.
Publishers already know that Facebook video is a major source of engagement.
Video is a major part of Facebook’s future plans. The platform is testing an all-video news feed, and releasing a number of new video-focussed features, including the ability to save clips for watching later.
Although it’s still early days in figuring out what’s working on Facebook, it’s clear that there’s a lot of confusion out there about what works best in video. Some of the most successful publishers see the overwhelming bulk of their engagement on a handful of clips, while others might feature similar content, but wind up with a fraction of the engagements.
From analysing data at NewsWhip, we’ve come up with five factors that seem to hold true for most highly shared videos.
1) They’re Short
This point might sound obvious, but is very relevant when looking at the composition of successful Facebook native videos.
Last week, we found just how short many of the most clips actually are. Here’s a chart showing the average length of the top ten most shared videos for six different publishers in September. As you can see, they’re very short.
Average Facebook Video Length For Six Selected Publishers, September 2015
This doesn’t mean that all videos on Facebook have to be super short to get attention, but distilling clips for a time poor audience helps.
2) They’re Square
BuzzFeed found that 75% of their most shared videos over a one month period were in a square. The reasoning? Viewers don’t want to have to tap into full screen and rotate their phone just to watch a video that’s just a few seconds long.
When we looked at our data, we found that 18 of the 20 most shared videos over 30 days were square in format – that’s 90% square.
As consumers become more used to not having to rotate their phones to watch videos clips on natively vertical platforms like Instagram, Vine and Snapchat, that expectation now extends to other platforms, especially Facebook.
3) They’re Action-Based
For the most part, talking heads are out.
People are sharing visual clips that show stunning imagery, action shots, and a lot of movement.
As we now know, what works for video on social isn’t always what works on TV. Recognising this helps avoid assuming that stale broadcast footage will get big engagement on Facebook.
Looking at the biggest Facebook videos in Spike each day, we’re able to get a sense of the type of video content that does well on Facebook.
4) They Can Be Watched Without Sound
There’s a reason that clips of food are among the most popular types of videos on Facebook. The picture tells the story.
Since the introduction of muted auto-play videos in the news feed, being able to watch a video on the train or in a queue means being able to watch the clip without the hassle of having to hit the volume button, or scramble to plug in earphones.
Now, many of the most popular videos on Facebook allow for watching independently of sound.
Large, easy-to-read subtitles and evocative and descriptive title cards are easy ways of transforming muted pictures into coherent narratives.
5) They Employ Calls To Action
Most of the more successful Facebook video publishers employ short calls to action at the end of their videos, or on their Facebook page itself.
There are a number of ways you can do this. Putting a ‘Watch Video’ button at the top of your page, like NowThis above, is one way of directing people who land directly on your page to engage with your videos.
You can also customise the call to action that appears at the end of the clip itself.
Here’s how to go about customising your call to action:
Go to the ‘Edit Video’ option on your video, and select the ‘Call To Action’ tab.
There are a number of options you can choose here, including ‘Sign Up’, ‘Learn More’ and ‘Download’ (see below). Here, you can choose to send viewers to your site, to re-watch, or otherwise.
If they’ve already watched all the way to the end, why not?