We all know that heart-stopping moment. You’re casually scrolling through your social media feed in public when all of a sudden, your finger slips and Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” starts blasting out of your phone. The heads of hundreds of people snap towards you accusingly. You didn’t mean to tap for sound, but the inevitable happened. Gone is the joyful naïveté of the life you were living before. You’re now living the consequences of an accidental soundblast.
Recognizing the way the blood can drain from your face in a moment like this, Facebook is encouraging marketers to shift towards creating silent videos. Digiday estimates that about 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched with the sound-off, so through adding features such as auto-captioning—which allows video creators to add captions without leaving the site—Facebook is making the process as easy as possible.
If you’re wondering how to optimize video for silent playback on Facebook, the following guide can help you out. You’ll never have to put your audience members through the excruciating pain of accidentally revealing their love of 90’s power ballads again.
How to optimize your Facebook videos for silent playback
My favorite idea—as someone who falls closer to the introvert end of the personality scale—is that you don’t need sound to convey a powerful message. We’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, and the move towards visual content emphasizes this point.
So much of our media consumption is done on mobile and in public. That means that unless you have earphones in—or a complete lack of shame and personal awareness—you won’t watch video with sound on.
Facebook found that 80 percent of people “react negatively towards both the advertiser and Facebook itself” when video ads play loudly on their Newsfeed. As marketers, this is a great reminder to pay close attention to consumer behaviour. Ask yourself:
- How is your audience interacting with social media content?
- What captures their attention?
- What drives them away?
Once you know this information, you’ll be able to create content to fit within these parameters. The following tips will help you do this most effectively.
According to Facebook’s internal testing, adding captions to video increased view times by an average of 12 percent. This could be due to the fact that captions can add context to a video without the need for sound, or because captions help convey a message in the clearest way possible (when done right). Although there is a widespread belief that video advertising content needs sound to be effective, if people are avoiding your video because it has sound, you aren’t exactly enticing customers.
To take advantage of these benefits, Facebook has made adding captions easy for content creators. As mentioned above, an automatic captioning feature has been added to work with the silent autoplay function already in place for Facebook videos. Videos play on a users’ News Feed silently by default, so adding captions is a surefire way to get your audience’s attention as quickly as possible.
Previously advertisers could only add captions to their Facebook video ads by adding their own caption files. Facebook explains that now you “can choose to have captions added automatically. Our new automated captioning tool generates captions for video ads and delivers them to the advertiser within the ad creation tool to review, edit, and save to their video ad.” Marketers’ branded videos will get two lines of captions for free in each video—a solid amount to get you on your way to making more effective content.
You want to do everything possible to increase your video view times, so I recommend using Facebook’s guide to adding captions as a resource.
Make every second count
It’s difficult to turn anywhere in 2016 without consuming some sort of media. Whether it’s a billboard on the side of the road, a bus advertisement, on social media or a mobile ad, it’s no surprise that North Americans consume an average of eight hours of media per day. While a stunning number in itself, this flood of media means that marketers and advertisers need to really work to stand out from the competition.
As Facebook’s ad products marketing developer Graham Mudd told Adweek, “In a feed-based environment, people are in control of what they consume. So, unless you focus on earning that attention, really through relevance, you’re not going to succeed as much as you would otherwise.” With Facebook video, success is measured through views and view length. In order to be counted as a view, a video must be watched for at least three seconds. As a marketer, you don’t have much time at all to grab the audience’s attention.
Facebook found that 65 percent of audience members who watch those crucial first three seconds will continue watching for at least 10 seconds, and 45 percent will watch for at least 30 seconds. This can mean the difference between your message getting across or getting lost in the shuffle. While there is no magical formula for creating videos that quickly hook your audience’s attention, there are some tactics that will increase your chances:
- Show captions, logos, and products within the first three seconds of the video. Nobody wants to be guessing or trying to figure out exactly what it is that they are watching.
- Choose an alluring but accurate video thumbnail image and title to draw in viewers.
- Use strong imagery, on-brand colors, and consistent themes to help captivate and delight.
- Create interest through lifestyle and product shots, recognizable spokespeople and influencers, and/or scenes with action and vivid backgrounds.
Regardless of whether your Facebook videos have sound or not, the best way to capture your audience’s attention, and make the most of every second, is with quality content.
Design with silence in mind
To make the best Facebook videos, whether paid ads or organic content, you need to have a clear plan in mind. Knowing that 85 percent of Facebook video views are played with the sound off, it’s important that you’re designing your content with silence in mind.
Facebook explains that “in one study of Facebook video ads, 41 percent of videos were basically meaningless without sound.” This means that if you’re thoughtfully creating your Facebook video content with silence in mind, you’re going to be ahead of your competition who have failed to do this. Create meaning through other video aspects, such as:
- Clearly showing captions, logos, and products
- Telling a story through visuals such as animations and graphics
- Sharing simple information in an easy-to-read format
- Providing basic brand-relevant step-by-step instructions (such as a hair company providing guided hairstyle tutorials)
- Entertaining imagery
Facebook shares the case study of Seda Sunsilk, who wanted to attract a young female audience in Brazil with product video tutorials. These Facebook videos used text overlays and captions, including opening questions to immediately grab the audience’s attention. The videos then had live step-by-step demonstrations with clear and simple onscreen text sharing how viewers can easily achieve the looks with the Seda products.
The campaign saw the brand receive a lift in unaided brand awareness and brand favorability. And the average view time? A whopping 21 seconds.
Like the return to vinyl records, macramé, and Pokemon, silent videos have great power in today’s culture. We’re a mobile-first society, and our media consumption habits reflect this. Marketers know that capturing the attention of a viewer can be the biggest hurdle, so the above tactics can help you find success without making a single sound.
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