Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg sees video as the next “mega trend” but just in case, the social media giant has invested millions of dollars for content to help things along. “We’re making progress putting video first across our apps and executing our 10-year technology roadmap,” Zuckerberg said in a call regarding the company’s fourth quarter 2016 earnings. So far so good, as Facebook users watch 100 million hours of video per day. For brands, utilizing the world’s top social platform is a given—but among 1.7 billion users, it’s easy to get lost.
Here are four ways brands are finding success through Facebook’s video offerings.
The most obvious use of Facebook video is to upload something, but sometimes the most simple solution is the best. Facebook may be rolling out fancy new options to post video across its platform, but a video of Taylor Swift falling on a treadmill earned Apple Music 18 million views. So there’s that.
Among the top 30 brands on Facebook (based on likes), a study by social analytics firm, Quintly found that more videos were posted than photos, at 54.9 percent and 45.1 percent, respectively. “The fact of there being more video posts relates to a general trend of brands having incorporated videos into their marketing strategy as one of the most engaging forms of content, thus benefiting from users experiencing the brand in a more exciting way than via a picture or simple text,” Quintly noted in the report.
Sometimes the most effective message doesn’t come from the brand, itself but from a creator. According to July 2016 research by SheSpeaks, 32 percent of US creators who currently work with brands cite Facebook as the best platform for influence marketing, followed by Instagram at 24 percent.
Since its inception a few years ago, brands have experimented with new and interesting ways to engage audiences in real time. Food brands have found particular success among hungry viewers, from how-to guides to creating food-based works of art and tours of company kitchens.
For Hershey’s Chocolate World, the company wanted to inspire chocolate lovers to visit their attraction in Pennsylvania. To commemorate the first Hershey Chocolate Tour last May, they decided to bring Facebook users along for the ride. The result of the brand’s very first Facebook Live stream was 118,000 viewers tuning in throughout the day.
“Not every social media tool is applicable for every brand, but Facebook Live truly hit our ‘sweet spot’ for engagement at Hershey’s Chocolate World. After 18 livestreams, we have generated over 240,000 viewers—and we’re just scratching the surface of the potential this tool has to offer,” said Matt George, marketing associate for Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction on the company’s blog.
For The New York Times, Facebook Live has become an invaluable source for covering news and interacting with viewers at the same time, helping the news outlet reach 100 million views in December.
“We’re calling this live interactive journalism,” Louise Story, New York Times executive producer of live interactive journalism, told WAN-IFRA. “We’re not calling it video, because it’s inherently different from a produced video. In live interactive journalism what’s happening onscreen is affected by the audience in real-time. This is as much about the audience as it is about journalism.”
Facebook is investing in short-form, original content that will help establish the site as a source for entertainment, as evidenced by its new Facebook TV app. Launching April 5 is Facebook’s first livestream talk program—Never Settle Show—that will not only feature interactions from those watching on Facebook, but other social networks as well. “We’ll have a live, interactive video wall on the set so people will be able to see themselves actually on the show which I think is really different—really compelling,” Never Settle Show host, Mario Armstrong told [a]listdaily.
Interactive video offers new ways to experience otherwise static, although highly interesting video. Last April, HBO released a 360-degree version of the opening credits for Game of Thrones, which became the most-viewed 360 video within the first 24 hours, according to Facebook. For the release of Deadpool, viewers on Facebook could watch their favorite “merc with a mouth” doing everything from playing pool to dancing on the bar, resulting in over 11 million views. If you ever wanted to step onto a photo shoot with Derick Zoolander, you’re in luck—over eight million viewers did just that in a 360-degree promotion for Zoolander 2.
Those with Samsung Gear VR headsets can now browse 360-degree videos on Facebook through a new app, making immersion and discovery more convenient.
Video ads are another way for brands to reach their audiences, but with the added help of targeting metrics. Since Facebook videos automatically play without sound, grabbing a viewer’s attention, as well as optimizing for mobile viewership will be key. As of September, around 93 percent of Facebook users accessed the site through a mobile device.
During the company’s 2015 earnings release, Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg shared a case study for Microsoft. For the launch of Halo 5, the team at Microsoft Xbox optimized video for Facebook and Instagram by creating content that captured the viewer’s attention in the first 3 seconds—even if that viewer watched without sound. This tactic drove over 380 million impressions and 49 million video views, and “increased purchase intent by 10 points in the US.”
Facebook is currently testing mid-roll ads for its live videos, encouraging creators to upload videos of at least a 90-second duration. The ads only appear once a viewer has watched a clip for at least 20 seconds, which may be less intrusive than a pre-roll ad. Should these tests be successful, brands will be able to engage with viewers who are more likely to pay attention.
“Mid-roll ads are a powerful opportunity for brands to insert their message in a (seemingly) seamless way, without annoying the viewer from the get-go. People will likely be more tolerant of ads because when they’re already engaged in the content. Whereas, with pre-roll, the engagement has yet to begin, which gives viewers an immediate ‘out’,” said Lindsey Buchanan, director of content strategy for ION.