We look at three simple ways that video publishers can appeal to more of their mobile viewers on social media.
We now know that there’s been high growth in engagement with video on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram this year, as platforms adapt their preferred formats, and users change their social media habits.
Many publishers and content creators have put a lot of resources into making more video, often with decent results.
But there’s one key consideration for video producers here: the number of people watching your videos on their phone is likely to be the majority of the overall total. So what can you do to appeal to mobile viewers of social video, and grow that vital segment of your audience?
From looking at some of the best examples in Spike, here are our three tips for making sure your social videos are appealing to your mobile videos as much as possible.
1) Experiment with square videos
Square videos that have a 1:1 aspect ratio can take on a life of their own in a mobile news feed.
We’ve been noticing this for a while with social video, and it’s even more relevant when it comes to targeting mobile users specifically.
On the ad side, Facebook recommends that marketers employ a video aspect ratio of 1:1 to guarantee maximum visibility in the news feed. One digital agency that tested the format, Laundry Service, found that view rates on their square videos are 28% higher than for the traditional landscape format. It seems as though few people bother turning their phone sideways to view horizontal clips, which then show up very small on their screens.
Of course, publishers will have different goals and outcomes when it comes to video engagement, but one analysis we ran last year found that the majority of the most engaged native videos on Facebook over a month were square. Publishers like BBC News regularly use square video on Facebook and Instagram to great success, seen in the short clip below.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/228735667216/posts/10154127941342217″ bottom=”30″]
With this in mind, you should also be designing the video itself with a smaller screen in mind. To cut the video to the right size, try tools like Graybo, or in house editing.
If you’re unsure about how useful it’s going to be for your organisation, try and test both formats, and compare key metrics, including view times and engagements.
2) Try different visuals, caption formats and even graphs
By now, we all know how important it is to both grab the attention of your viewers on Facebook quickly, and to cater for viewers who are watching without sound.
The usual two pieces of advice here still stand: that is to have an action-packed opening to your video, and provide captions on screen. But it’s worth looking for inspiration around this from time to time to see how else you can make your videos stand out in news feeds and timelines, while still making them understandable to mobile viewers.
ATTN are another example of a publisher that makes social video for a very mobile-focussed audience. 70% of their video views come from mobile, so they’re pretty good at nailing the attention aspect. Many of their videos are told through attention-grabbing graphics:
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/attn/videos/1198610423507748/” bottom=”30″]
They also incorporate graphs and other contextual information in their videos, but in a way that feels natural to the format. If you’ve been using plain captions for a while, why not try changing things around?
3) Simplify your story
With social video, what we’re seeing a lot with successful posts is a pared down way of storytelling from the publisher.
When we say to ‘simplify’ the story, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to ‘dumb down’ your video posts. Instead, think about how you can improve how you use the time you have in the short video to get the story’s message across, without all the ancillary detail you’d get in a regular TV package.
If you’re already producing longer videos for your website or a platform like YouTube, try to hone in on one particularly compelling angle of your narrative and shift the focus to that strand. That could be examining a single interviewee’s story, or focussing on a single point or angle in a wider context. For example, a longer video on climate change might do well on your website, but picking out the story of someone affected, or focussing on an angle like a shrinking glacier, can be a more effective means of making a point with mobile viewers.
Here’s one example from the Weather Channel. This impressive footage shows the eruption of a volcano in Guatemala. Instead of lingering on the whole story, the video focuses on the visual highlight of the story, grabbing attention without requiring a huge amount of wider context.
Do you have any other advice for engaging with mobile viewers of your social videos? Let us know on Twitter.