Creating Video For Facebook: 4 Foundational Principles

by Common Thread Collective Collaborator

Jan. 11 2016

I’ll bet you’ve never created a print ad for a magazine without knowing which magazine it would be in. Or for that matter, I’ll bet you’ve never created a print ad without knowing if it would be in a magazine or a newspaper.

So why would you create video content without thinking about where it will be distributed?

Let me let you in on a little advertising secret I learned: YouTube and Facebook are different. Yes, they both host enormous amounts of video content. And yes, they both thereby contribute to a significant decrease in human productivity. But they are different.

If you’re creating video content and you’re not promoting it on Facebook, you’re being dumb. Sorry to be blunt. Sometimes the truth hurts. If you’re creating video content to promote on Facebook without thinking about how Facebook is different than YouTube, you’re being less dumb. But you could be smarter.

So let’s stop the abuse and start the healing. Here are 4 features of Facebook’s video distribution mechanics that should affect the way you produce your video content.

1. Plan For Autoplay

I recently heard about a company whose Facebook videos started with a camera pointed at a guy who was waving his hands and jumping around, as if to say, “Hey, look at me!”

That’s definitely gimmicky and probably annoying. But it’s also smart, since Facebook videos autoplay in your feed. When those marketers planned out their video, they decided, “If this video is going to play automatically then we have a unique chance to grab people’s attention. Let’s not squander that.” That’s the right approach.

You don’t have to be that gimmicky, of course. In fact, for the sake of all of us: please don’t be that gimmicky. But how does autoplay affect your video’s first 5 seconds? How does it affect costuming, action, or setting (to name a few examples)? Maybe the reality of autoplay means simply taking the time come up with a hooky video title and flashing that on the screen as the video starts (similar to how you’d think about developing a good headline for any non-video ad)?

Your video will autoplay on Facebook. You have a chance to grab your targets’ attention. How will that change the content of your video?

2. Plan for Silence

Speaking of text on the screen: your video will autoplay without sound. And guess what? Even if you’ve gotten a user’s attention, she’s likely to keep the video playing silently.

Think about it: no one browsing her Facebook newsfeed on her iPhone while standing in line at the bank wants a video to start blaring as it autoplays. Even if you’ve taken my advice above and created a totally captivating intro, she’s still at the bank and therefore still doesn’t want to turn on the sound. Heck, forget about the bank: maybe she’s just too lazy to turn on the sound. I’m pretty lazy about stuff like that. Aren’t you?

So here’s the solution: either communicate entirely without words or use subtitles.

Both of these first two points are well-known and reasonably obvious, so instead of going on and on about them, let me just show you this brilliant example of planning for these features from

Attention-grabbing main character. Subtitles that directly reference the silent autoplay. They’ve obviously thought ahead about Facebook as a distribution point. Plus the joke in it basically begs you to watch the video twice, the second time with sound. Pure marketing genius.

3. Plan for Shareability

You know what one of the most beautiful things about running paid ads on Facebook is? They’re easy for people to share. They just press the “share” button or type in “@Such And Such Friend” and it’s done. It requires so little work for them and it’s free, high-impact impressions for you (“high-impact” because we all care more about what our friends share with us than what some company wants us to watch).

But that’s not all.

It’s also a beautiful thing for you because “number of shares” appears to be one of the key variables in your ad’s Relevance Score. Which only makes sense: if people are sharing content, it means they like the content. It’s “relevant” content.

And a higher Relevance Score means that it costs you less to show your ads. That also makes sense, since Facebook wants to keep their end users happy (and therefore coming back to Facebook as often as possible, providing you with more advertising inventory, and providing themselves with stacks on stacks on stacks of cash). Help Facebook do that, and everyone wins.

Here, let me spell it out more simply:

More Shares = Higher Relevance Score = Cheaper Ad Costs = Higher Profits = You Get A Promotion And A Raise = You No Longer Have To Take Orders From Brian (Who Totally Sucks) As You Leap Over Him On The Org Chart.

Boom. Science.

4. Plan for Remarketing

There’s probably no feature of Facebook video I personally love more than the ability to create remarketing audiences from your video viewers.  Whether your video is a traditional commercial, a long-form content piece, or a brand ambassador talking about your product, you can create and optimize funnels to drive people to both branding and purchase with unbelievable premeditation and precision.

There are two kinds of audiences you can create from your videos: those who “Viewed” your video (i.e. those who watched at least 3 seconds of it), and those who “Completed” your video (i.e. those who watched at least 95% of it, no matter the length). As you run your video ad, those audience lists populate, and you can then retarget them with whatever you want. Maybe that’s more video content. Maybe it’s a direct response product ad. Maybe it’s something in the middle. It’s up to you. The beauty is that you can (and should) plan all that on the front end.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of this tool with my own brand, but already I’m seeing great results. Sometimes it just creates a simply opportunity to move from branding to transaction. Other times it creates a way to run a series of video “episodes,” since you can retarget people who watched Episode 1 with Episode 2, and so on. The possibilities are pretty limitless.

I’ve always activated this feature by checking a box in Power Editor, but now Facebook automatically creates these audiences for you, which is great news if you just want simplicity. One note though: you need at least 1,000 views per day for this to work for you. That’s actually not that many (since a “view” is counted every time an auto-played video plays for at least 3 seconds), but it’s still good to know.

I can barely begin to conceive of the number of things you can do with this tool. You can build similar funnels with YouTube videos, but my experience has been that those have been far less effective. Take some time to plan some marketing funnels and then get testing.

I’m sure there are more features of Facebook video you can be planning for, and we’d all be better off if you told us what they were. Let us know in the comments how you’re optimizing Facebook as a point of video distribution. It’s time we all worked harder to plan smarter.

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