Eight REAL tactics to increase video engagement on Facebook


I was amazed that when I received an email this morning from PRNews and read the article entitled “5 Ways to Make Your Facebook Videos More Engaging,” I was disappointed the authors (@ebethsorrell & @ianwright0101did not even talk about true engagement, or real tactics to increase engagement.

PRSA has got to get away from taking the same ole topics then plugging and playing the same marketing/pr boiler plates into recommendations for the membership. So let’s talk about engagement and how to really increase engagement with video on Facebook.

Background, I have spent the last few years (well really since May 2014 when Facebook announced autoplay video) testing video content and the deployment of video content. We were able to run lots of testing with video with a national healthcare client who was granted early access to autoplay video before the proud release.

Here is what we have learned and how we think to make videos more engaging, which means attracting interaction (Likes, Shares, Comments) on Facebook.

1. Video Production & Visual Engagement is KEY! What do I mean by this? Each video has to be visually compelling using a few considerations. First there must be physical movement inside the video, specifically left to right. People are scrolling downward in their newsfeed, thumbing through content; so you have to create a visual cue to catch their eyes in the first 2 seconds of the video. This can be achieved with motion graphics flying in from left and right, or camera movement from left to right. The colors in the video must stand apart from the other colors in the newsfeed; this is why we have found videos that are either using black/white or colors that pop out away from the white/blue interface of Facebook creates larger visual interest.

2. Video Length – There is a reason why Instagram started with video length at 14 seconds. We have found that 14 seconds is the magic length to catch peoples attention and to get them to click to learn more. If you want to create a content marketing strategy driving consumers to click after watching a video to an external website; keep the videos around 14-22 seconds, MAX! If you are just running an awareness campaign, you can push beyond the 14 second limited but you better put media dollars behind the video content so you can test the results.

3. Use Media Dollars for Video – Even if you only put $20 behind a video on Facebook for a sponsored post, the level of analytics you get from this investment is priceless. You will be able to track the duration of video consumption, you will see if people were able to watch 1 second, 5 seconds, 10 seconds, and so on. This will give you key indicators where you video is most impactful. Putting media dollars behind video allows you to leverage the business platform granting you access to cross promote video content on Instagram as well, then tracking success. You will be able to compare outcomes from Instagram and Facebook simultaneously. We have learned you will attact more click conversions on Facebook than Instagram. Bottomline, Facebook is great for digital marketing and content marketing with video and Instagram is truly an awareness mechanism for conversation. Side note, hashtags with video content on Instagram is great for discovery; audiences are searching content on Instagram using hashtags.

4. Post Organically First – Create your video content with short copy and post organically first. Make sure you tag all organizations and people involved in the campaign, allowing those who had ownership in the campaign share the video organically leveraging their personal reach. As the video gains more views and you feel it is growing in reach and engagement, then put media dollars behind it. Do Not Boost the post, that is more expensive. Open up the Facebook Business Platform where you manage the media buys, create a new campaign, select this post from your page in the settings, and then add media dollars. This allows you to leverage the organic reach to maximize and push further across your geographic and demographic selections.

5. Create Compelling Messaging with Branded Subjects – People will stop and watch people and brands they recognize and love. We have created organic campaigns with no media budget and gotten just as much engagement than if we just would have put media dollars behind the video content. We did this by selecting compelling messages with compelling visuals, showcasing recognizable people who have large social media communities, and encouraging the audience to share with their friends. Once you tag these individuals and brands, the reach grows exponentially based on the individuals social media following.

6. BE FLEXIBLE – If you create compelling content, put media dollars behind the video content, and track the analytics; then be prepared to tweak the video. If you notice the video is not performing well, people are not watching past five seconds, or no one is commenting; be willing to stop the campaign, tweak the video edit and the copy, and repost. We live in a digital world and we can make changes on the fly, so be prepared to make changes on the fly. If you notice the video is not performing well after four or five days, pull it down and tweak the content.

7. Remember, ASK PEOPLE TO RESOND OR SHARE – Yes, we are still lemmings and we have to be told what to do. Use the copy and/or the messaging in the video to encourage people to share their thoughts and share with their friends!

8. Finally and this is IMPORTANT – Create video content that tells a story WITHOUT SOUND. Sound is icing on the cake, you cannot assume people are going to click to listen. Create content that conveys the message without sound, but it they click to listen…it is a bonus. That is why “talking heads” underperform and why you see more and more video content using motion graphics and motion text. It allows people to read the messaging in the video while watching. We have even noticed people using “closed caption” in the video for the “talking head” content, this allows people to watch when ever and still consume the content.

So there it is…feel free to read five GENERIC ways to make Facebook videos more engaging. But if you want to really get engagement, it boils down to specific tactics!

If you would like to learn more about these tactics and the overall strategy behind these tactics, join me this November at the Connect2016 Conference in Columbia, SC. The one day professional development conference is hosted by IABC and SCPRSA. Click here to learn more and register!

* Bobby Rettew has served on SCPRSA Board since January 2015 as VP for Professional Development.