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Powerful Facebook Video Ads Techniques for 2020

Posted January 28, 2020
Written by Andy Libunao
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No digital marketer can afford to ignore the power of Facebook video ads.

Native Facebook videos get 4.5 times more engagement than videos on YouTube and that heightened engagement can bring amazing results. In 2017, jewellery company Pandora released a 15-second marketing video for the holiday season and achieved 61% more sales and 42% more customers.

For Halloween 2016, an extermination company called Tomcat released an interactive live horror-themed video that garnered 2.3 million unique views. Viewers were invited to comment and vote for which puppet rats would be eliminated. The campaign was grim and effective – 483k users commented and Tomcat boosted their Facebook fanbase by 58%.

But it’s not enough just to upload videos and hope for the best. We’ve put together this guide to get you up-to-speed on everything you need to know about Facebook video marketing. From tried-and-tested video marketing wisdom to the latest algorithm changes, you’ll find it all below.

The golden rule: entertain, inform, inspire

First things first: give the people what they want. While it’s true that the ultimate goal of your Facebook videos may be to boost sales, gain followers, or promote an event, they shouldn’t feel like traditional ads.

You’re up against the whole world on social media and, unlike on network television, your Facebook video ad can simply be scrolled past if it isn’t engaging. So, your primary mission is to provide value to users, not simply promote your business or brand.

Inspirational content performs very well, as does content with practical value – cooking tutorials, how-to videos, explainer videos.

Humorous content is best of all. People are more likely to engage with an ad if it’s making them laugh, and sharing funny content makes up most internet activity.

Content that is funny, inspiring, or useful has an added benefit – people tend to re-watch it. Since May 2019, Facebook’s algorithm’s have been adjusted to favor videos that draw people back for multiple viewings.

That also means ‘evergreen’ content – rather than seasonal or highly topical content – is more valuable than ever.

Production tips for Facebook video ads

So, aside from creating good content, there are some specific things you can do to give your videos the best chance of success in the wilds of Facebook:

1. Grab attention and grab it fast

Facebook videos are a little like duelling with pistols at dawn – you’re either quick or you’re dead. You need to grab viewers attention in less than 5 seconds or they’ll simply keep scrolling.

As tempting as it might be to start slow and work up to something amazing, Facebook simply isn’t the place for it. Start with movement to draw the eye, an arresting visual to inspire curiosity, or on-screen text to engage the mind.

Whatever approach you choose, make sure it’s visual, not auditory so that it gets across whether or not a user has sound enabled.

2. Keep content short

There is no single ‘correct’ length for Facebook videos but shorter content generally performs better. Most marketing experts recommend videos between 15 and 90 seconds long, as engagement levels tend to drop off sharply after a minute and a half.

That said, longer content isn’t off-limits, it just needs to earn its run-time. One way to increase engagement on longer videos is by letting people know up-front what they’ll learn or discover in the video. Remember the golden rule – entertain, inform, inspire. Length is secondary to the nutritional value of your video.

Changes to Facebook’s algorithm also mean that videos of at least 3 minutes will get a boost, so long as they are able to keep people watching and engaging for at least 1 minute.

3. Optimize for silent viewing

Speaking of sound, in 2016 85% of Facebook videos were watched without the sound turned on, partly because the default autoplay settings muted sound.

Facebook changed those settings in 2017 but most people responded by manually changing them back. On top of that, videos will play without sound on mobile devices that are in silent mode. So you need to assume most people will see some or all of your videos without audio.

That’s why it’s essential to include on-screen text in your videos. Otherwise, your message won’t reach many users and they’ll keep scrolling.

Basic subtitles are better than nothing, but since you need to add captions anyway, you may as well make these visually interesting. You can use video editing software for this or find a simple online editor to make things easier.

Be sure to use big bold fonts as many people are watching on small devices. You should also let the likelihood of silence guide your script and shooting – focus on visual storytelling over talking heads whenever possible.

If you want to get really creative with your titles, check out the video below for inspiration:

4. Create a great video thumbnail

Another factor to consider is that a significant minority of Facebook users change their settings to prevent videos from auto-playing. Instead, they see a thumbnail preview.

You can choose from one of the automatically generated options when uploading, but we highly recommend creating a customised thumbnail and uploading that instead. That way, you get to control the first impression of your Facebook video ad, rather than people seeing a random frame.

The quality of your thumbnail can seriously affect the performance of your video. According to an experiment by AdEspresso, a better thumbnail could decrease cost-per-action on a Facebook video by 50%.

Including text in your thumbnail image can be very helpful too, but don’t overdo it. Your thumbnail should be less than 20% text, according to Facebook’s guidelines. Otherwise, its reach will be reduced or it may not run at all!

5. Make square or vertical videos

While landscape videos are more cinematic and are still the norm on YouTube, for Facebook you should opt for square or vertical videos.

92% of Facebook users browse the site on mobile devices every day. They don’t want to be flipping their phone on the side and making videos full-screen just to optimise their view of landscape videos.

Most Facebook videos are seen in-feed on vertical devices, so optimise for that user experience. Square videos are seen more, liked more, and inspire more engagement on both computers and mobile devices.

Square videos also display much better in a vertical feed without having to be made full screen. They take up 78% more on-screen real estate than landscape videos, which makes them more likely to catch and keep a user’s attention.

Vertical videos can also be very powerful, especially for live videos, as they allow a full-screen experience without users having to reposition their devices.

Vertical is the most mobile-friendly video format and mobile will only get more important for video marketing over time!

6. Craft videos that are simple and shareable

While fast-moving visuals, interesting edits, and novel imagery are great for engagement, the basic concept behind each Facebook video ad you create should be simple.

It’s much easier to share something if you can easily sum up what makes it interesting or important in a sentence or two.

YouTube superstars Rhett & Link put it like this:

“Can we summarize what this video is all about in one sentence that is easily understood and also compelling in a way that people will want to share? If you can’t summarize it in one sentence, then it’s going to take someone longer to explain it when they’re trying to share it.”

Think about what your video has to offer and how you would sum that up in one succinct sentence. It also helps to consider what might inspire people to share your video, for example:

  • To make people laugh

  • To share an interesting idea or opinion with others

  • Novelty – ‘You’ve gotta see this!’

  • Utility – ‘This was really helpful, it could help you too’

  • Inspiration – ‘This made me feel amazing, you could feel amazing too’

7. Include a call-to-action in your video

Once you’ve created a great video that has caught someone’s attention and provided value to them, you have a brief window of opportunity in which they’re primed to engage more with your business. That’s where a call-to-action (CTA) comes in.

If you’re uploading your video specifically as a Facebook ad, you can add a CTA button to your post when you upload.

These CTAs can be tailored for a range of objectives:

  • Brand awareness

  • Reach

  • Traffic

  • Post engagement

  • Video views

  • Messages

  • Conversions

If you’re posting your video without an ad budget simply to get organic reach, you won’t have this option. However, you can incorporate a CTA within your video itself and in the text of the post itself.

It’s a good idea to do both as the text allows you to provide a direct link that users can click while the video CTA is more likely to be seen and can direct them to the link.

The main choice to make is where in your video to place the CTA, beginning, middle, or end?

  • Don’t put your CTA at the start of your video, as this will feel spammy and alienate many users.

  • If it’s in the middle of your video, make sure your CTA feels organic to the content or it will break the flow of the video and lose viewers. If you do it right, mid-roll CTAs have the highest engagement rate: 16.95%.

  • Putting your CTA at the very end of your video means the fewest people will see it – but they’ll also be your most engaged viewers, and more likely to click.

Tips for sharing your video on Facebook

As well as creating video content that works, it’s good to know how to share it for maximum effect. Here are some tips for effective ways to put your video out into the world:

1. Post at the right times

Look at your Facebook insights to learn when your followers are most engaged and post your videos then. You need to make engagement easy for your audience, not make posting easy for yourself.

If the times involved are really inconvenient, you can use social scheduling apps like Hootsuite or similar alternatives to post apps even if you’re asleep or at work.

2. Create your video title with SEO in mind

Make sure every video you upload has a descriptive title that is optimised to be searchable.

Do a little keyword research around the topic of your video and create an SEO-optimised video title, the same way you’d create an optimised H1 for your home page.

For example, ‘Great Car Video’ is a bad title, but ‘Change a tyre yourself in 5 easy steps’ will perform well.

3. Preview your video with user-friendly text

You can briefly describe or tease your video’s content in the Facebook post. You can pull a key quote from the video or find a creative way to pique people’s curiosity.

Doing this lets users know what to expect and means people who click your video will be more engaged because they already know it’s something of interest to them.

Here’s a simple but effective example:


Get Creating

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for great Facebook video marketing – the trick is to start creating content and see what works. If you listen to your audience, try new things, and follow the guidelines above, you should see more and more engagement over time.

A rapid-fire summary of what we’ve learned:

  • Create content that brings value to users – whether that’s through humour, big idea, practical advice, or something else

  • Grab attention in the first few seconds

  • Keep most videos between 15 and 90 seconds long

  • Use on-screen text for silent viewing

  • Upload your own video thumbnail

  • Make videos in square or vertical format, not landscape

  • Keep the purpose or message of your video simple and to the point

  • Include a call-to-action with your video

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