It’s no secret, video posts on Facebook drive the most engagement on average. Not only is this due to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm giving them a push, but the natural design of video content aids in those ever important “signals” Facebook talks about in their explanation of how News Feed works. A video view, a click on the video to enable sound, comments on live videos, etc. All of these add up to really boost video content in the News Feed.
So, the question we always get: “How can we do video better?” I’ve lost count of the number of media outlets who have lamented over the fact they’re posting videos, but they’re not getting great engagement. “We’re doing live videos from breaking news scenes, live look ins of the newscast, and we’re posting promo videos all the time… But we’re not getting engagement, and our reach has diminished.” If you fit into that category at all, this post is for you.
Engage Your Audience
This is at the top, because if you choose to stop reading after a few minutes, at least you’ll get this very important point. If you want your audience to engage with you, then you need to engage with them! (While we don’t have t-shirts with this great quote, it is very tweetable! Do it… Tweet it!) There are a few sides to this topic.
Engage in the comments
Whether you’re actively live, or your video is posted, encourage the conversation! This is also important for non-video posts, but especially with video content, you need to let your audience know that you’re listening and that you care about what they have to say.
If you post a video, even of a breaking news scene, be active in the comments. Answer people’s questions, tell them what you’re following up on, and where they can get the latest information (hint: your website). You have to think of your videos not as a post that’s up and forgotten, but something that will live in the News Feed for several days with new eyes each day. Those new viewers have questions and they deserve answers!
What about live video? Take WKRC-TV (Cincinnati, OH) anchor and viral funny-man, Bob Herzog, as a great example for how talent can really create a wonderful live experience and build a loyal following and community through simple interaction. Every Tuesday (barring other circumstances) Bob, often accompanied by his fellow morning teammates, goes live while eating tacos and talking about whatever he wants to talk about. “Taco Tuesday” is a huge hit and has regular viewers. The engagement is amazing, as is the content.
He recognizes people, welcomes them, answers their questions, takes their feedback, laughs and loves what he does! Herzog recently spoke with Facebook about the success he has with Facebook Live and he said, “Facebook Live has that immediate viewer interaction. It’s taken connecting with viewers to another level because it’s ‘RIGHT NOW.’ It allows you to react instantaneously, which makes community/viewer connection that much more personal, seamless and achievable.
My experience is that the comments have been extremely positive back and forth. Part of my job on TV is to deliver news that’s going to be tough to hear. But in this space I get to just be… me. I’m a fairly positive guy, and I’ve seen that positivity reflected back to me. In the couple hours after going live I’ll dive back into the comments. Many of my replies are fairly brief, but my hope is doing that makes it meaningful for the people that have taken the time to post. And I hope it helps them to know me more. I think, now more than ever, that’s incredibly important.”
LIVE: Engage for today and tomorrow
This is probably one of the easiest things to do when you go live. For many people, they wait a minute or two to get into the heart of why they’re going live. They’re waiting for the audience to arrive. This is a good practice! But don’t leave that 1-2 minutes as dead air. You have to think of your audience who will not be watching this video “Live”.
One of the important factors with video is grabbing attention quickly (more on that below). If a viewer watches a live video from yesterday and has to sit through 1-2 minutes of the talent “waiting for viewers”, they’re going to scroll on by. Instead, use the first 1-2 minutes to welcome all viewers, especially those viewing later. Let them know what you’ll be talking about and, if you plan to wait a set amount of time, tell them where in the video they can fast forward to in order to get to the good stuff! Remember these viewers, their comments and engagements are just as important to the success of your post as those live viewers.
Just as important as engaging your future audience in your video, don’t forget the first point in this section… Engage them in the comments after the video has been posted as a VOD (video on demand). When you ask questions in your video, tell those watching after the fact that you’ll be watching the comment section and will try to answer their questions. This encourages them to comment, but also lets them know you care. This is how you get a loyal audience!
Showcase unique stories, only-ons, exclusives
You build these things up with on-air spots, a-block teases, b-block teases, billboards, paid social media ads, etc… So deliver it! Take the extra time to make a social-made version of the story that highlights the key points, has text that doesn’t require sound enabled, and is built for engagement! Your audience will appreciate it, and you can use that post to point people to the website to get the full story.
We’ve started seeing more pushes to do “web-exclusives” lately. Why not “social-exclusives”? Have a great interview with a local politician, business owner, etc? Put some highlights on Facebook, and push people to the full interview on the website!
Keep it short, grab attention fast
The header for this section pretty much says it all. We get questions about how long video posts should be, but there’s really no set time frame that works. I’ve watched 15-second videos that were great, and I’ve watched 10-minute videos. I watch a 5+ minute video almost every day as part of the MLB and Facebook partnership to post a recap of the latest game of your favorite MLB team. So the question about “length” isn’t a question about average viewership, it needs to revolve around the content. If you can get your point, or story, across in 30 seconds, do it. If it needs to take more time, then do that.
The key to getting people to watch the video lies in the first 3-5 seconds. Think about your own viewing habits on Facebook. When you’re scrolling through your News Feed, what kind of videos make you stop and watch? The ones that have something that draw you in right? You make that decision very quickly, and you likely don’t even know you do it (you do now). I recognize it now, and often will say out loud, “Bored” as I scroll on by. Don’t be that video!
TIP: Use what works on YouTube. Some of the best YouTube content creators will start their video out with something eye catching, exciting, hyped, etc. Then they’ll start from the top, and get to that big moment later. This can work for you as well. Have great surveillance video of a perp dropping through a ceiling? Start the video of that in slow motion, then start from the top and build up to the epic fail moment!
It’s all about content
In the end, just like every other post on Facebook, it has to be engaging content. If the video is about a minor accident on a major roadway that caused little-to-no major issues… It’s not worth it. If the video shows the moments before the accident and the offending driver taking a selfie… Then yeah! It’s worth it! Just like you should be picking and choosing your content for link posts, you need to do the same for your videos as well!
Finally… Take the extra time to make the video special. A few extra minutes of finesse could be the difference between 2,000 video views and 200,000. And don’t forget to take the time to monitor your results. Check your Post Manager inside SND and scroll all the way to the right to see video insights. Sort by video views 30s and see what videos perform the best. You’ll learn a lot about your audience this way!