Video Engagement, Where To Next?
Go square, go long and go large - that is the recipe for a strategy to continue growing your video engagement, despite the negative effects of looming Facebook changes.
So far this year, all the talk has been about how the social network, facing an avalanche of “fake news” accusations, will dial down news organisations in its news feed, giving greater weighting to posts from friends and family. Publishers fear their professional video views are about to drop off a cliff.
Whilst many observers are still expectant for Facebook’s big algorithm change, the platform has been making steady changes in the same direction for the last year. In fact, our analysis of Facebook activity over the last 12 months shows that video engagement is already in decline.
We compiled Wochit’s Facebook Social Video Performance Index to examine more than 33,000 videos created by almost 300 publishers which appeared on more than 500 Facebook pages through 2017.
We saw views per video during Q3 shrank by 8% on the prior quarter, and then declined by another 15% during Q4.
Our Index’s findings should not scare anyone from producing video; I believe video is still the optimum way to tell stories. And with audience demand for video proving ever-more insatiable, publishers are right to produce more video content. But they do suggest publishers will need to recalibrate what those stories look like. So, what changes should you make?
Facebook’s changes are logical. Whilst the inner workings of its algorithm remain secret, company representatives have already explained what kinds of content will be given greater weighting. Facebook wants to reward content that generates higher engagement. This means quality will now count more than ever.
Long-form wins out
Accepted best practice in online video has traditionally shunned longer videos, believing that viewers - especially those on mobile devices - do not have the attention spans to consume longer content. But, according to our Index, videos longer than 90 seconds had 52.1% more shares than those with an average length last year.
Square works best
Video is typically shot in landscape format. But who really enjoys turning their mobile phone around so many times? Not Facebook users. That is why videos published in the vogueish new square format get 275% more views, 482% more shares, 523% more comments and 349% more reactions than others, according to our Index. Those numbers add up to the greater engagement that Facebook says will be rewarded under the new algorithm. So the takeaway is clear - for best effect, go square.
Think outside the box
If you think the above sounds like a great playbook for a 2018 video strategy, however, bear this in mind - playbooks don’t always make the best strategy. Case in point - when we used our Index to analyse the performance of videos with headlines crafted for clicks (like “5 ways to” or “you didn’t know”) and for the presence of big celebrities, we often found these videos’ view counts underperformed the average. In other words, don’t do video by the numbers - the best path to success is telling a compelling story.