Social media platforms, particularly Facebook, are vital distributors of digital content. Online audiences now expect content creators to come to them, instead of the other way around. This is particularly true for video, as visual content continues to outperform all others on the platforms where we spend most of our digital lives.
Before I joined Edelman a year ago, I was HuffPost’s Director of Video, International, running social and viral video teams both in the U.S. and around the world. While I cannot stress enough that there is no silver bullet (believe me, we searched for one), there are best practices you can follow to set yourself up for success.
Here are five things to remember when you’re creating social video content.
1. You Have 10 Seconds to Capture a Viewer’s Attention
Those first 10 seconds are all that matter as far as viewers are concerned. A compelling thumbnail and a riveting first 10 seconds are essential to the success of your video.
2. 60 Percent of Viewers Have Stopped Watching by the Two-Minute Mark
Short and sweet is the name of the game on Facebook. The average Facebook user sees 400 stories a day in their News Feed, which should tell you just how fast they are scrolling through their feed. Once you hook a viewer, you’ve got two minutes to tell your story. Make every frame count.
A side note: Some stories simply cannot be told in two minutes. YouTube offers higher rewards for longer content. And it’s important to remember that YouTube is arguably the second-largest search engine in the world.
3. There is no Optimal Time of Day to Post Your Video
This is one of the most common misconceptions publishers and brands have about social video; that if they can just figure out the right time to post their video on their social channels, they’ll be able to hit their audience all at once.
Facebook’s News Feed algorithm doesn’t work like that. It’s a complicated brew of recency, relevancy and social triggers. But let’s boil it down to one metric to rule them all, SHARES. That is all that matters in making your video go viral. Create a compelling video that people want to share, and it won’t matter whether you post it at noon or midnight; people will see it.
4. If You Can’t Clearly Imagine Yourself Sharing a Video, Then Most People Can’t Either
People share content on social platforms to elicit in others the emotion that they felt themselves. When creating a video, ask yourself why would YOU would share it: is it smart? Empathetic? Funny? Shocking? Ahead of the curve?
Additionally: paid promotion can generate views, but NOT shares. There is no substitute for compelling content. You can pay for it to be seen, but not to be shared.
5. Are you Emotional, Educational or Functional?
These are the three most common buckets that brands fall into when they create videos. If you can clearly define your video’s narrative, then it will easily fit into one of these. See below for examples.
And since it’s Friday, here’s a video my team at HuffPost produced of cats training their human servants. 114 million views. When all else fails, go back to basics: scandals and animals.
Nicholas Graham is a deputy editorial director, Collaborative Journalism, Edelman New York.