Facebook, that tricky devil! Just when it seemed like everyone understood the rules of the game on the social media platform -- and photos were the key to sure-fire organic reach -- Facebook had to go and switch it all up by allowing native video uploading. Poor photos now only garner an organic reach level of 3.7 percent, lower than status updates, and -- gasp -- even links.
All the while, video is killing it. Facebook only started getting serious about video a year ago, but they already get an astonishing 4 billion daily video views -- as many as YouTube after 10 years. In February of this year, 70 percent of videos were uploaded directly to Facebook, as opposed to being links back to YouTube. A year earlier, direct uploads were only 25 percent. Videos have an average organic reach on Facebook of 8.7 percent.
This trend is only going to accelerate. Ericsson predicts that online video will grow by a "staggering 55 percent per year" between now and 2020. Additionally, Cisco predicts that by 2019, video will constitute 80 percent of web traffic. Clearly, video is going to be dominating the web, and mobile in particular, in the not-so-distant future.
This is actually good news for businesses trying to generate sales and create brand awareness on Facebook and on the web in general. Comparing photos to videos is like comparing a still life to life-in-motion. With video, the audience can fully immerse themselves in a world created by a brand. Any business not using video to communicate its message is missing a hugely important opportunity.
It starts with the story
Video is an incredible tool that allows businesses to carefully craft a story that can trigger any desired human emotion with incredible efficiency -- and support ideas with visual association to enhance an idea. This medium can be harnessed to tell a story, shape a perception, communicate information, and trigger emotions with the right planning and execution. Great videos don't have the best production. They capture something meaningful. Great videos tell a story, and they make people feel an emotion. And, great ideas for videos can come from anywhere and any person -- no matter their background.
Think about why people love movies. An audience is transported to another world for a couple of hours. When people watch a video about love, they relate to and actually feel those emotions in the moment. When a person watches a movie about war, they feel the stress, the fear, and that primal fight-or-flight reflex innate in all humans. People make those associations through their own experiences, and those associations trigger real emotional connections. With video, the presenter makes those associations for the audience.
An excellent example of an effective video campaign comes from Apple, where each ad plays a video that a user has filmed on their iPhone. They end the commercial with a simple message: "Shot on iPhone 6." The commercials are powerful because they captivate the audience with powerful visuals and tie the story together by showing the viewer that they too are capable of telling stories with their own camera phone. Great videos in their simplest form concisely communicate one thing. Brands should focus their ads on communicating that one thing very well, and video will be a medium that will works wonders.
Don't make an ad; make a connection
It's important for a brand to get its point across in a video as quickly as possible to avoid viewer drop-off. Effective marketing videos should be less than 3.5 minutes, but shorter can even be better. According to Wistia, the completion rate for videos 30 seconds or less is a whopping 85 percent, with completion rates slowly declining as video length increases.
The biggest mistake companies make when developing marketing videos is creating a blatant advertisement. People don't want to watch ads. Marketing videos instead need to have a mechanism to connect with a user on a peer-to-peer level. This mechanism can come in the form of content, by offering the user information of value, or a message that resonates with them on a very human level. Think about the famous Dove "Real Beauty" commercials, where women describe themselves to a forensic sketch artist, who uses those descriptors to sketch them. The same artist then asks others to describe the women, and creates sketches off of their descriptors. The sketches, as dictated by others, are more attractive than the sketches created by the women's perceptions of what they look like.
Dove isn't selling soap in these videos. They're associating a feeling with their brand and making women feel differently -- more positively -- about themselves. That feeling is what the audience will feel when they see the Dove logo on a billboard or a store shelf.
How to make the connection: Tips for creating effective videos
- Benjamin Franklin once said that "originality is the art of concealing your sources." Maybe it's not a great idea to conceal sources in this case, but it is worthwhile to view a lot of ideas in order to spark new creativity. Strong concepts are born through dots falling together so that they can be connected to make something unique and original -- and appealing to viewers at a personal level.
- Before getting the creative juices flowing and spit-balling ideas for videos, it's important to first nail down the video's target audience and to define both the purpose and the action it is intended to spark. Consider where the video will live on the internet, whether it's on Facebook, YouTube, or elsewhere, and how users will consume the content.
- The old adage "cheap is cheap" also definitely applies. Try not to skimp on production value. The best idea or message in the world can fall flat if the imagery isn't visually appealing.
- Story. Story. Story. Remember to tell a compelling story. Reach people on a human level. Appeal to their emotions. Make them feel something. Include a compelling headline and include keywords in the description. Businesses should also look for timely opportunities to insert themselves into current conversations taking place in their society. Leverage writers to perfect the message's language and delivery.
Brands would do well to avoid trying to create videos simply to see spikes in engagement. They should never get so tangled up in maximizing their engagement that they lose sight of the full story they're telling. While social platforms like Facebook continue to change, and social strategies evolve right along with them, companies should look to tell their stories fully and in varied formats, including video, and seed their messages across multiple platforms.
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"hand press play button" image via Shutterstock.