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5 Tips to Master Facebook Video from a Top News Publisher

How NowThis is creating compelling news video that get millions of people watching on Facebook, and five ways to replicate their success.

With video as the content du jour, publishers and marketers alike have shifted their focus to creating compelling videos on social media.

We’ve been scrutinizing video closely as well. We’ve looked at where to get ideas for content, the tools you need to create them, how to master Facebook Live, and the best video publishers. We decided to investigate a little more closely, by diving into a video publisher that’s consistently at the top of engagement for news publishers, NowThis.

Of the top 100 Facebook videos published during May and June by news publishers, 14 were from NowThis, followed by 12 from Daily Mail, and 6 from AJ+.

With so much content already out there, it’s hard for publishers to pierce through the digital noise. For Facebook users, it’s difficult to find the stories that they care about amongst everything out there.

So what’s NowThis doing right? While other successful Facebook video publishers like Tasty and Red Bull may be going off of aspirational and inspirational content, NowThis gives short but comprehensive looks into both hard news and human interest stories.  

Their best videos are:

  1. Compelling from the first second
  2. Short and succinct
  3. Watchable without sound
  4. Highly visual, from a variety of sources
  5. Strike an emotional chord

If we dive into the most engaging videos for NowThis from the past three months, we see a variety of topics.

NowThis video Facebook

Human interest, culture, and societal issues make up the bulk of the top ten. Rather than hard news reporting, NowThis uses their videos to dive deeper into stories, like their video tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub.

 

Pull Viewers In With a Hook Immediately

 

Only 65% of viewers who watch the first three seconds of a video will keep watching to at least the ten second mark, and only 45% will continue on for 30 seconds. 

Because of this, you need to hook your viewers during the very first second of the video. NowThis accomplishes this by placing their lede front-and-center in the first second of the video. They pair a compelling image with a caption that captures viewers’ attention.

This was NowThis’s biggest video for the timeframe we analyzed. With over 1.1 million Facebook shares and 58.4 million views, it’s clear that the opening shot of a young child standing alone on a street with the caption ,”This little girl was totally ignored when she looked homeless” tugged at viewer’s hearts and compelled them to keep watching.

The video also drove over 585,000 likes/reactions and 23,000 comments. That first moment of a video greatly helps its success.

What to consider:

  • Start off your video content with a compelling visual
  • Don’t bury the lede: introduce it in your content as early on as possible
  • Consider making the lede a caption on the opening shot

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Take Only the Time You Need

 

That being said, the best videos are succinct and able to tell a story in roughly a minute. Looking again at those top 10 videos, we found they averaged 77 seconds in length.

NowThis is able to take very difficult stories and tell them concisely. This video of ‘angels’ blocking protestors at an Orlando Pulse shooting victim’s funeral, illustrates this well. In just 72 seconds, they tell an emotionally-charged story. The video included backstory of the Angel movement, quotes, and resounding images and video.

This snapshot into the aftermath of a tragedy, drove 37.9 million views, along with 509,000 likes/reactions, 593,000 shares, and 16,000 comments.

What to consider:

  • What is the main point of your story?
  • How quickly can you tell the story? Two minutes? One minute?
  • Go over your story: what information is necessary, what can be cut?

 

Say It Without Sound

 

A stunning 85% of all Facebook video is consumed without sound. NowThis addresses this mute-preferring majority by adding striking, big captions to all of their video. Certain words emphasized and bolded, especially action words and key points.

In the case of dialogue, that is subtitled too.

These punchy captions are big and easily readable. Paired with clear visuals, NowThis was able to tell a quick, quirky story in less than a minute. With over 57.4 million views, 887,000 shares, 718,000 likes/reactions, and 17,600 comments, NowThis was able to tell an impactful story that was able to resonate with or without sound.

What to consider:

  • How can you tell the main points of your story through succinct and short captions?
  • What words or points do you want your viewers to remember? How can you visually emphasize them?
  • Is there dialogue? Can you caption it and have it be as impactful?

 

Pack in the Visuals

 

For NowThis to accomplish their storytelling in such a short time and with summarizing captions, they embrace the old adage, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Their videos are packed with visuals — images and video clips that tell the story just as well as the captions do.

They’re not afraid to borrow for these visuals either. NowThis uses an incredible amount of visuals for the videos, depending on the story. They obtain a wide variety of images and video content from other news outlets and social media, citing their sources.

This video honoring the victims of the Orlando Pulse shooting was viewed over 49 million times. Although tackling heavy subject matter, NowThis turned a horrifying hard news story into a somber but honoring tribute of their lives, by sourcing visuals from other news outlets, and the victims’ and their friends and family’s social media channels.

The video saw over 458,000 likes/reactions, 699,000 shares, and 22,000 comments. Looking for more tips? Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get our latest insights sent straight to you. 

What to consider:

  • What is the main point of your story?
  • What photos and videos can best communicate the main point of your story?
  • Do you have these visuals? Or can you borrow them from other sources?

 

Strike a Mood

 

Since their videos are already captioned, NowThis relies on visuals to get the story across instead of narration. Not only this, but they set the tone of the video by using music that matches the mood of the story. For positive stories, there are upbeat and snazzy beats. For more serious stories, the music is often dramatic, full of electricity and tension.

For those watching without sound, the visuals chosen by NowThis are carefully selected and compiled to evoke the emotion of the story. They use close-ups on individuals and faces where possible to bring viewers into the story.

This video of a man graduating from the very college he was a custodian at, managed to tell a “feel-good” story in under a minute. With uplifting music, and close-ups of Michael Vaudreuil’s face, NowThis was able to capture the emotion of the video and bring viewers into this triumphant moment.

The video saw 12.2 million views, along with 263,000 likes/reactions, 127,000 shares, and 4,300 comments since being posted.

What to consider:

  • What are the biggest emotions of your story?
  • What visuals do you have that can get this general tone across?
  • What music or sounds can set this scene?

 

As more and more content is produced, it’s vital to know the strategies and tactics that will get people watching your videos. Knowing the best practices of top publishers can inform your own creation. That kind of Content Intelligence is essential for staying ahead and scoring big social media wins, as NowThis has done.

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