Video is by far one of the most important marketing outputs in the last decade. Its effectiveness is driven largely by how people engage with it on social media, convincing the AI algorithms that people enjoy seeing it, and improving video reach organically.
The first challenge is getting it seen. You always have the option to promote with paid ads, but ideally, to get the highest ROI, you want continuous organic reach. Here are some key targets you want to achieve before running a video ad:
Those first three seconds of content have to fight hard and pull out all the stops to engage the viewer. It’s so easy just to ignore content, to the point it’s become a physical reflex to keep scrolling.
You want to make content that makes your audience’s thumb stop dead. It’s the digital equivalent of walking past a salesperson on the street and pulling your earphones out to listen to them. In today’s busy world, it’s a big deal.
Here are some tips to make those first three seconds pop:
Regardless of the social media platform, the thumbnail of the video is usually the first thing people see before it’s clicked or starts playing automatically. It’s essential you include a raw human emotion; a shocked or laughing face, large legible text and vibrant colours.
We know that the majority of video on social media is consumed with the sound off. If at any point your video relies on audio to tell the story or to convey additional information, you simply cannot get away with not subtitling.
You have to come to terms with the fact most people will not deem your content special enough to turn the sound on as soon as it pops up on their feed. And that’s okay –as long as they are continuously engaged with your video, you can achieve your goals without sound entirely.
Content creators on Instagram, who spend every day competing for a minute of people’s attention, have stopped showing their video from start to finish. Instead, the first 3-5 seconds of the video will be a trailer for the remaining 55 seconds. That’s a trailer for a minute video.
These aren’t ads either, they are videos designed purely for entertainment. That’s how competitive the landscape for your attention is now. So those first 3 seconds of your ad need to be the most exciting seconds of the whole piece of content.
We know that Facebook will count a ‘view’ after 3 seconds of watch time - But as a marketer, those 3 seconds mean very little if you aren’t getting any clicks, or persuading anyone to do anything.
Keep it relatable to your target audience. It should be something they would expect to see on their feed without it feeling obtrusive, and also something people talk about in their friend groups – so they’ll be more likely to tag their friends and start a discussion.
Creating content that gets through to your audience takes effort, research and planning. Getting this right in pre-production is arguably more important than just choosing your audience filters in Facebook Ads.
Make it emotional. Is it funny? Does it shock you or make you want to show the world? If not, you’re doing it wrong.
Get to the point. Be direct and don’t waste a second of anyone’s time. That means no title cards, static images, “um’s” or “ah’s” in dialogue or long drawn out shots with minimal action. Show only what is absolutely necessary.
When you tick all those boxes, you’ve won half the battle. The next step is conversion.
Ask the audience: again, be direct – if you want them to click on a link, be up front. After your initial engaging caption, include your trackable link with a simple signpost.
Get a clear product shot. Make it a memorable moment that includes the product so that people remember what it looks like. For ads that promote a service, you want to create a situation where that service was the obvious and only solution to the problem presented in the video.
Human interaction: Having a human ask for an action usually converts better than text. If you’re running a branded content campaign and using celebrities, presenters or influencers – getting them to promote that 'call to action' is a powerful tool for converting viewers to buyers.
Alex is a filmmaker who has amassed 20 years’ worth of branded content watch time online in 2017 alone.
Written by Alex Balcombe
Head of Production, Bridge The Moon
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