Introduction

Only recently, a bold prediction was made by Facebook’s VP Nicola Mendelsohn that in five year’s time, Facebook would be ALL video. It’s a big call, but it gives an indication of the importance of video to that medium, and of the necessity for you and your business to be fully across the video features in Facebook - and confident in your engagement with your audience using them. The other point she emphatically made was that the platform was ‘definately’ mobile, confirming what has been being forecasted for a while now, your customers are going to be looking at your digital and social profile while on the move on a handheld device and you need to be optimized for that. Your video posts and video ads are therefore going to have to reflect that user interface.

Currently, Facebook users watch an average of 100 million hours of video on mobile every day. Daily views have increased from 1 billion to 8 billion in one year’s time. Text posts, meanwhile, are declining year on year. Facebook is consciously targeting small businesses to use video and the video advertising function and in doing so is turning their aim to toppling YouTube’s strangle hold on the video market. Facebook’s world domination aspirations notwithstanding, the line between information and adverting is blurred with Facebook video. Is your video an ad, or is it information, or is it both? How do you make sure that your video’s don’t just entertain, but have a clear call to action, and strong brand reinforcement that connects with YOUR audience and don’t get lost in the coming tidal wave of new video  content? Let’s find out.

Facebook Video Basics

Firstly, you need to be comfortable with video and creating snappy short video pieces for your audience. You will need the right tools for that, and so before you read this, you might want to have a look at the Live Streaming video for business essentials fact sheet. Assuming you have the skills or someone who does to make your content, one of your first steps can be to have your Featured Video playlist set up so your fans can a) see you are using video content and b) access it fast. The Featured Video function is displayed prominently at the top of your Videos tab, as well as in the ‘About’ module on your Page’s main Timeline. This is the ideal spot for a business overview or explainer video about what your business does, as it’s quick and easy to spot for new customers. Setting up a Featured Video is easy. When you click on the Videos tab on your Page, you’ll find a button to ‘Add Featured Video’ right at the top. Note that you’ll only be given the option to select from videos that you’ve previously uploaded to your Facebook Page. If your video hasn’t already been shared on Facebook, simply upload it to your page and then you’ll be able to select it.

According to Facebook itself, videos less than 2 minutes long are the most effective on the platform. Short videos are the most effective on a fast moving medium to get your point across, whether that's to show off a product, raise brand awareness, or keep your fans entertained and coming back for more. While 2 minutes is the average, it is the first 2 seconds that will determine whether or not viewers stay or bounce. Give your concept  some careful thought when creating your video narrative, and where you can, employ professional help from someone with a proven record in this style of video making.

Grabbing and Keeping Attention

When your video plays in the Facebook News Feed, it will play silently and automatically. This means you should try to grab viewer attention with bold imagery or a great shot to entice them to turn on the sound and continue watching. For example, you could shoot a product from a super tight angle then zoom out to reveal what it is. You could also try opening your video with a sequence filmed in slow or fast motion. Also, controversially, shooting video vertically is becoming a thing, where once only horizontal video was acceptable. Try out what works for you and what message you are trying to tell your audience. You really don’t need anything more sophisticated than a good smart phone to shoot your video, so the barriers to entry of getting video on your Facebook page are minimal.

There are a ton of apps that can help you with the video editing process, and Facebook strongly suggests you make use of them so the video you publish is as polished as possible. These apps can help you with editing separate video clips together to form a narrative, and also allow you to add text, and filters. If you want to try one out, perhaps start with Directr for Business. It’s a free app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch provides you with ideas for videos on all kinds of topics – from a customer testimonial to a how-to tutorial, a product announcement or an executive profile video. Their app enables you to easily make videos for your Facebook page (and Twitter feed) as well as your YouTube channel. If you want to make an intro or explainer video you can also try home grown Biteablewho are taking a bite size chunk out of the video making market with easy to use software to tell your business story.

Facebook Ads as Video

Facebook video’s can be converted into a compelling ad for your business in the same way any ad can be boosted or posted. Just select the right audience demographic for your product or service by age, location, interests, connections, and behaviors.  Using a Facebook Pixel to create a Custom Audience works the same for video as is does for a static image or post. You can create a Custom Audience from your website for any group of customers or prospective customers that you’d like to reach with targeted Facebook ads.

As mentioned earlier, videos auto play silently in a users News Feed, but this is still a great opportunity for brands to capture attention. Using a banner or text overlay to give the video some context in the first few seconds can help get a viewer engaged. No sound might sound bizarre until you take the time to reflect on how you view videos on Facebook. While from time to time it might be in the comfort of your own home, people are often browsing through their news feeds to kill time on their public transport commutes, while in a restaurant or public place, or while taking a brain break at work. More often than not, sound is not appropriate in these scenarios and since most people like the path of least activity, the chances of them plugging in their headphones to listen to a video advertisement on Facebook are slim, so captions solve that problem instantly. Facebook reckons that captioning video’s increases viewer’s engagement time by an average of 12 percent. Captioning your Facebook video is explained in easy steps here.

It is worth also mentioning that the auto play feature for ads is turned on when you pay cost per impression (CPM) rather then cost per click (CPC). This will have impacts on your budget and engagement strategy if you have previously been using CPC. Basically the difference is with CPM you are paying for the cost per 1000 impressions. With video an impression on Facebook is seen as a 2 second view in auto play so be mindful that this may or may not have a strong impact to someone scrolling through their news feed but you will be charged for it. If you are new to how to work out costs for Facebook ads, check out the Facebooks Ad Costs Factsheet here.

As with all things Facebook, business and advertising, once your Facebook video ads have gained a significant amount of views you need to take a step back and determine if the money spent is yielding a return. How many people are watching videos? Clicking on your ads? Visiting your website after watching? Understanding how your Facebook video ads impact your target audience will help improve your video production and advertising strategy to ensure your business is positively impacted. All this information is available in Facebook’s Insights. Aren’t familiar with this analytic tool? There is a Factsheet for that here.

Live Video Streaming

If the idea of making and editing videos is a little daunting, consider the simple and less fancy option of using Facebook’s Live Video Streaming. This is as straightforward as it sounds – you shoot and stream live video. This might take a little practice to get your live video stride going, but developing a brand and following using this as content means you can, in an agile and authentic way, communicate with your customers in real time with little editing required. Tools for do this are pretty minimal, as mentioned before a decent video camera enabled smart phone is all you need to get rolling.

Many businesses are using Facebook live streaming as a way to share more information about what they do by holding livestream Q&As, or to give followers a behind-the-scenes look at their people, environment, or products. Viewers can ask questions or provide feedback during your broadcast by commenting or using Facebook Reactions on the livestream post. Before you Facebook livestream consider the following questions when deciding if this is the medium for you message. Is the message timely? Will the messaging lose effect if it’s not immediate? Is the content news worthy? Is this a live event whose message will diminish if not consumed live? Do you require interaction with your online audience? Hosting events and launches for example are perfect for using livestream, and you can promote the event in the lead up, as well as using it as an excuse to get sign ups and capture new customer data.

As the video is shooting and broadcasting, you can see how many people are watching the video, as well as their names and comments. As soon as it’s over, the video is automatically saved to your timeline. From there you can share it, tweet it, embed it in blog posts, or delete it. This is a bonus as now you not only have captured a moment of live excitement, you have content to keep that feeling going for anyone in a different time zone who missed it. Live video works because viewers want the opportunity to interact with the people behind the brand. Always leave your viewers wanting more from you. Tell them about other ways they can keep in touch by following you on other social networks or subscribing to your newsletter. Provide them with some valuable content — you can add a link to a free download, an informational video, some tutorials or your email signup page — the list is endless.

Understanding how your audience interacts with video content is a matter of practice and analysis. Given the prediction of the video domination coming, the time to start is now, learning and growing with your customers as you share your business and video journey together.