Why "how-to" videos are taking over Facebook

November 27, 2017

Written by Benedict Nicholson
How To Facebook Guide

How-to guides are becoming more and more popular, especially as Facebook videos. We take a look at this trend and see which publishers are taking advantage of it.

We noted in a recent blog that some of the most successful videos on Facebook are the so-called “how-to” guides that many publishers are now producing.

As such, we thought it would be worth pursuing a little further, and diving into who was having the most success in this field, and exploring the characteristics that these videos share that brings them so much success.

To narrow down the field of whom to look at, we began with a keyword search of the following terms on Facebook posts; “DIY, How to, easy, and hacks” in our social database, NewsWhip Analytics. From this we were able to determine which Facebook pages had driven the most engagement through their how-to guides.

It’s worth noting a few data points that stood out in the keyword search.

How-to video keyword

On average, posts containing the keyword ‘hack’ performed consistently better across all reaction metrics, but especially on shares, where they averaged some 1,125 per post, somewhere between 5x and 10x shares achieved on posts containing the other keywords. Overall, ‘hack’ related content averaged 2,655 interactions per post, roughly 5x the other types of ‘how-to’ content that was posted to Facebook.

There are two distinct types of videos that have particular success in this genre of videos. The first is the ubiquitous ‘life hack’– some form of repurposing everyday objects to give them a new, imaginative use, and the second is recipe videos that guide the viewer along in cooking or baking.

The top publishers in this genre of video reflected this, with the majority focused on one or both of the two styles of video.

How-to publishers on Facebook

With that in mind, let’s see how they break down. Based on the above keyword analysis, we determined that the top publishers in this genre of video on Facebook were Blossom, BuzzFeed Tasty, BuzzFeed Nifty, BuzzFeed Nifty Outdoors, Delish, NTD Life, and 5 Min Crafts.

How-to FB posts

Based on the data, Blossom was far and away the most successful of these Facebook pages in terms of average engagement, averaging nearly 750,000 engagements per post on its ‘life hack’ content.
BuzzFeed Tasty and BuzzFeed Nifty Outdoors both performed  extremely well in that genre too, with average engagements of 80,000 and 144,000 respectively.

Blossom was ahead of its peers in terms of the top performing content, with six of the top ten most engaged Facebook posts for the month on its page. Its success was also based on a relatively small amount of posts for the month; at only 24 posts for all of October, the publisher averaged less than one video per day.

Blossom’s content tends to be more focused on the life hack genre, with videos on everything from folding hacks to ways to regrow vegetable scraps. Blossom did not completely ignore food content, however, with one of its more successful posts being a guide on making homemade Halloween candy.

Halloween did affect the top stories somewhat, unsurprising given the data is from the month of October, with two of the top ten ‘how-to’ guides being Halloween related.

How-to top 10

The length of the videos is worthy of note here too, if only for the difference between that and the normal length of video you might find on Facebook.

The average length of the top ten ‘how-to’ videos was 2:25. When compared with the average video length by traditional publishers that are successful with video, that’s significantly higher, with that tending to hover somewhere between one and two minutes.

This makes sense given the content, of course, as there’s no point explaining things in a rush or confusing viewers with an inadequate amount of information.

The format of successful ‘how-to’ video content is a fairly formulaic one, and repeated across various publishers. It tends to involve a tight zoom on a demonstrator’s hands, overlaid with text explaining the various steps as generic music plays in the background of the video. The simple works well in this case, and there’s no reason to complicate it.

In terms of the top content for each publisher, it very much varies based on the focus of the publication.

How-to publishers top

It’s obvious that this style of video has enormous viral potential for publishers and brands looking to explore this format. As noted in Digiday recently, this type of evergreen content is becoming increasingly popular thanks to the fact that it is unaffected by ups and downs in the news cycle and can be resurfaced or recycled easily.

How to make a great how-to guide

  1. The video should be long enough to explain the topic properly. There’s no need to rush; if it’s interesting, your audience will stay with you.
  2. Use proven tactics. Tight focus on the demonstration with overlaid text works well, and there’s no need to change a winning formula.
  3. Focus on life hacks and recipes. Repurposing everyday objects and creating great looking food can help you win a huge audience.
  4. If it makes sense, describe what you’re doing as a ‘hack’. Our data shows that tends to help drive more engagements.

Want to see which video trends are perfect for your audience? Check NewsWhip Spike to drill down into any industry or topic.

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Benedict Nicholson

In addition to leading the NewsWhip Research Center in New York, Benedict Nicholson manages partnerships with internationally recognized media outlets furthering data journalism, which includes NewsWhip’s Data for Democracy program. Benedict also facilitates consultations with communicators from the top 10 public relations agencies across America and Europe and with Fortune 500 brands to discuss consumer engagement trends and effective media monitoring. Email Benedict via benedict.nicholson@newswhip.com.

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