When you think of an ad, what comes to mind? Chances are, you’re picturing something from a TV commercial—Matthew McConaughey in a business suit, driving a Lincoln Navigator, reflecting on how “life is a game that plays us”. A young, good-looking, hip, ethnically diverse group of people eating McDonald’s. The Geico cavemen. The Geico Gecko. Flo from Progressive. The Old Spice Guy.
Too many people take the TV model of advertising and apply it to paid social, without accounting for the fact that Facebook is nothing like television. It’s a completely different medium altogether—it’s interactive, it’s populated by amateur content that’s created by the user’s friends and acquaintances, and (most importantly), its sound is off by default.
In order to achieve paid social success, you have to create video that feels like it belongs on Facebook, not on any other platform. Here are 3 quick tips on how to create video that gets stops people’s thumbs—and then gets those thumbs a-tappin’.
Tip 1: Make Great Silent Films. (AKA Don’t Forget to Caption Your Videos…)
This is the number 1 place we see advertisers on Facebook stumble—you must assume that nobody will ever hear anything in your video (some people will, but the vast majority—85%—will not). The best way we’ve found to solve for this is what we call the “Mashable-style video” —video with big, animated text on-screen that “narrates” the video, allowing the viewer to read along while they watch. We call it “Mashable-style” because, well, we stole the idea directly from media companies like Mashable and BuzzFeed. This illustrates another old advertising technique: make your content look identical to the informational and entertainment content people are used to seeing. In the old days, that was making ads that looked like newspaper editorials; these days, it’s text-on-screen infotainment.
Tip 2: Make it Look Ugly.
The handheld, poorly shot, poorly lit iPhone video is the foundation the internet was built upon. Depending on your brand and product, making your ads look like these super-organic posts can be the way to go. For example, this is the first frame of a very successful ad we’ve run:
This gentleman’s genuine reaction to using a client’s product, shot in low quality on an iPhone, is one of the most successful ad products we’ve ever seen. The combination of the authentic reaction with the amateurish quality of the video makes it feel native to the platform (and, oh yeah, it’s totally free…)
Which leads nicely into:
Tip #3: Put the Most Interesting Thing First.
TV ads tend to follow a similar structure: setup, rising action, punchline, call-to-action (maybe). On Facebook, you have only a split-second to grab people’s attention – so use this structure: punchline, explanation, call-to action. The purpose of advertising is to be so interesting that the consumer buys your product; and on Facebook you have to be interesting right away. Here are some suggestions on how to do this:
What’s the most interesting sound bite you have? Lead with it.
Does somebody say something weird or outrageous in your clip? Lead with that.
Does somebody make a big claim about your product? Lead with that.
What’s the strangest or most striking image in your video? Lead with that.
As the philosopher Marshall McLuhan once said, “the medium is the message” —in other words, the way in which you say something is as important as the thing you’re actually saying. Paid social is no different, and adapting your content to perfectly fit the platform…well, we like to think of that as the true happy medium. Now, get out that iPhone and start shooting!