3 Tips for Successful Videos on Social Media

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By Andrew Minucci Video has been a part of the human experience since we first learned to capture motion on film. The JFK assassination, the Moon Landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and countless other moments in our history were played out and consumed on screens of all shapes and sizes. From the historic to the mundane, we are enthralled by video.

Just yesterday my girlfriend excitedly handed me her phone to watch a video that I “had to see” on her Facebook News Feed. The video showed a baby penguin that fell right on his face, got up, and kept going. The video was synched up to the music of Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day.” The duration of the film was a whopping 16 seconds. I have watched the video over 10 times!

[embed]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sg3_eyDHuF8[/embed]

2015 will be the “Year of the Video” on social media, and now is the time for brands to take advantage. The key to successful videos on social media is three-fold: Keep them short, keep them simple, and keep them shareable.

1. Keep them short.

According to The New York Times in the article “Facebook Feeds Give Videos a Boost,” more than 17 million “ice-bucket challenge” videos were shared between June 1st and September 1st. A whopping 440 million people viewed these videos over 10 million times. I feel like I am responsible for a good chunk of these views, as I couldn't turn away from short clips of my friends pouring cold water over their heads (although I suspect a few used warm water in an act of cowardice).

This success is in large part to Facebook’s auto-play feature which plays short videos in users' News Feeds when scrolled over. While this feature made for some unhappy parents whose data plan bills skyrocketed (Facebook responded by allowing you to activate auto-play only while on WiFi), it also made video an integral part of content strategies for brands.

A Likeable Media client in the consumer packaged goods field recently promoted a 12-second video with a $100 spend, and the results were outstanding. The video was viewed by 440 people at a very low $0.23 per video view. Viewers watched an outstanding average of 86.75% of the video.

Our ever-shortening attention spans, coupled with our desire to consume media, make short videos the perfect way for brands to gain the attention of potential customers.

2. Keep them simple.

In my colleague John Kultgen’s blog post “9 Millennial Slang Words That Improve Your Social Media Voice,” we learned the phrase “TL;DR,” meaning “too long; don't read. The same concept applies for video. When users want to take in a long video, movie, or documentary, they are going to head to Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, or another streaming provider. When cruising their Facebook feeds, users want something they can consume quickly and don’t need to think too much about.

For the purposes of this blog, I scrolled my recent Facebook feed to see what videos caught my eye. My cousin posted a 13-second video of her two year-old dancing, titled “My little dancing queen!” Yup, I watched that! And as we know, the 16-second penguin video I mentioned earlier certainly got my girlfriend’s attention.

At the end of the day, we turn to social media for distraction. Use video to insert your brand into the user’s everyday life. Facebook is not the appropriate medium for your “How to Put Your Product Together” instructional video.  Keep it simple.

3. Keep them shareable.

Quoted in the aforementioned article from The New York Times, Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, said, “Fans want to look at videos that other people are watching. When you see a video that has 17 million views, you want to watch to see what 17 million people are talking about.” The “ice-bucket challenge” was a perfect example of how to keep videos sharable. In addition to posting short videos, users tagged their friends, who in turn took their own video and tagged their friends.

At Likeable Media, a client in the health care space recently posted a video of their staff participating in the "ice-bucket challenge." With no promoted spend, the video was the brand’s most shared post in August. The brand’s viral post reach more than tripled July’s number.

When creating a video the question shouldn’t be: “Will people watch this?” The question you should be asking is: “Will people watch this and tell their friends to watch it?”

What ways can your brand take advantage of video?