Video raised the social media bar

PR & Social Media Consultant Aileen Larkin discusses how today it's all about video on social media and how to create an effective video for social media!

Where does the future of social lie? Well according to Facebook – it’s all about video. Or so I learned at my first ever Social Media Week lecture – “New Creative Opportunities for a Video First World”.

When Facebook started it was all about text; saying what you had to say, putting your message out there, explaining to your Aunt Josephine the difference between a public status and what should have been a super private message…

Then we started with the pictures. A picture paints a thousand words (and encourages a thousand more engagements).

You write a paragraph about what a good time you had at the beach? Two likes – one of them from good old Aunt Josephine who has now accumulated 9 whole friends. However, if you post a lightly filtered picture of you standing up on a surfboard for the first time – BOOM! A guaranteed influx of “like” notifications.

It’s the same for brands. Telling people about how awesome your product is doesn’t have much effect by itself – it’s the photographic evidence that captures the scrolling thumb on Facebook and encourages engagement.

Don’t get too comfortable though because, according to Facebook, there’s a seismic shift in social coming our way.

Between 2015 and 2016 video usage on Facebook increased from 1 billion to 8 billion. Growth like that isn’t a mere trend – it’s a change.

So, as a brand, how do you jump on this Video First bandwagon early so that you’re not left trailing behind? What you definitely shouldn’t do is start chucking every piece of video content you’ve ever made into your weekly posts.

Video on social is different from what you might see on your television. People react to it differently and as such it should be created differently.

First of all – the likelihood is that someone who is watching the beginning of a TV advert is committed to watch the whole thing. If you’re too lazy to switch over to another channel before the second part of that Friends re-run, then you’re not going to switch off an advert half-way through because it doesn’t capture your attention. Unless of course the Go Compare guy is in some way involved…

Video on social needs to grab your attention straight off. You can’t lead up to your point, or gradually build excitement. You have to start with it. If you don’t engage users from the onset then you’ve lost them. They’re already scrolling past to shake their heads at Aunt Josephine’s status about what she had for lunch that day.

Make sure the first thing that users see is your product; your point, your thought provoking quote, the cute fluffy animal in a paddling pool. The explanation can come later – don’t miss your chance to reel them in.

Next – content automatically plays on mobile with the sound off which, as the majority of social use is now mobile, is a huge problem if you are relying on it to convey your message.

So how do you adapt your creative to overcome this niggle? You have to develop a video in which sound doesn’t carry your idea – but rather complements it.

Subtitles? Great! As long as they are giving the watcher value that couldn’t be delivered better by sound. Don’t fall into the trap of just echoing what would’ve been said had the volume been on. That’s not optimising for mobile, it’s compensating for it.

Perplexed? Don’t worry – Facebook have called out some tricks and techniques for repurposing video assets for the mobile feed:

Heartbeat Narrative

Every few seconds something new and surprising happens. Users will keep watching because they want to know what the next bombshell will be. For example – although this clever McDonalds Brazil Drive Through ad doesn’t tell a particular story like would be expected from a television ad – it sure keeps your attention pulsing.

Zig Zag

Grab the viewers’ attention with a hook at the beginning and then pull your product in front of them. Then do it again and again. For example this Pepsi emoji campaign hooks you in (literally) at the beginning with a little joke and them WHAM – Pepsi in your face – nothing you can do about it.

Start With the End

Get straight to the point. Start with your punchline. Let people know right away why you bothered to make a video in the first place. Then, once their attention is piqued, show them the product benefit. Essentially – get them interested before you should explain why they should be interested. For example this sweet and brilliantly simple Tide advert.

So how does a Video First world benefit us? This shift towards video brings social closer and closer to real life experiences, and live video adds in the social dimension of real time.

Why was Buzzfeed’s watermelon experiment so successful? Because watchers were involved, they knew just as much as Buzzfeed did about what was going to happen next, they were part of something. It was a real, shared experience.

Still having doubts about Video’s capabilities to revolutionise experience? Watch this – then get back to me.

By Aileen Larkin, PR & Social Media Consultant