Guiding your business to success often means taking drastic detours from your current marketing strategy in order to respond to equally drastic changes in the market in general. In the last couple of years, Facebook advertising has become central to many small business’s sales tactics, a trend that has coincided with the triumph of video marketing to make the use Facebook videos an essential prospect for serious companies. It is a path that is well-worth taking.
But for many senior managers who’ve been in the business a long time, both the culture and the technique of Facebook video ads may feel somewhat unfamiliar. It’s certainly true that if you try to make or commission any video at all, let alone one for Facebook, without the right knowledge and insight you could end up wasting a lot of time and money. But that’s no reason to be intimidated by the prospect. Facebook video ads are simple to get their head around once you understand a few fundamental basics.
For example, you’re proud of your business, and when making a video promo for Facebook you may be tempted to throw the kitchen sink at it. Who wouldn’t want to see the three-hour Citizen Kane of video ads for your fine company? Well, as it turns out – Facebook users wouldn’t. In fact, you’ll lose the attention span of most Facebook users after just two minutes, which still gives you a lot more time than a traditional TV commercial, but not long enough to tell your business’s life story.
Take a look at the script you’ve had prepared, have it read out loud so you can time how long it takes, and if it’s over 120 seconds then consider either pruning it or dividing it into a two- or three-parter. Each video needs only convey one key message, so you can always save other interesting bits for later. Indeed, it pays to publish little and often, so if you’re new to Facebook videos try to plan your first three or four in advance. That way you will also be forced to think ahead about how you use visual elements (such as a presenter or characters, color, and camera style) to create a brand image.
So if you can’t fit your life story, just what should your video be about? Old-school commercials tend to be a turn off in the intimate space of social media, so your video should have value beyond the immediate use of promoting your business. For example, if you run an estate agency and you’re hoping to find a new crop of tenants, make a branded video guide to house-hunting. If you own a bike shop, make How To Change A Flat Tire.
Keep it visual, because the vast majority of videos are watched with the sound off. Where you do use the spoken word be sure to add subtitles so it makes sense as a silent movie. If you’re handy with the editing software and Photoshop, you can make arresting titles in the style and color that you please. If not, create an .SRT file (the subtitle file format that you may have noticed comes with downloaded films) using basic software such as Aegisub – this method carries the advantage that the viewer will be able to switch on or off the subtitles according to their preference.
And just because you’re not creating a traditional ‘Buy This!’-type commercial, it doesn’t mean you’re not issuing a call to action. The main body of your video will be the high-value content that hooks the casual browser, but the sting in the tail will come in the form of an active request for your audience to take steps after watching – be it to Like your page, visit your premises, or indeed to buy your product online. If you can get them where you need them to go with just one click (Facebook provides the facility to create a Call To Action button) then you’re more likely to see those views converted into sales.
Talking of making the most of those potential customers, be careful not to let them slip past before they’ve even watched a few frames of your video. You’ll need an engaging headline to draw the casual viewer in, and in many cases a short, sharp description to entice them to stop scrolling and watch your material to the end. Keep it under 100 characters, ask a question that challenges your viewers to engage, and consider using bullet points if you need to get more than one point across in your introduction.
You need your video to meet some basic technical requirements if it is to be taken seriously, and for that you might want to hire a freelancer via a site such as Upwork. But don’t worry about making something as slick as the latest Mission: Impossible trailer. Again, the secret to Facebook is intimacy. You’ve made it to your customer’s timeline – now show them you’re one of them! Don’t be afraid of using vertical video – notoriously the choice of the amateur – because in fact upright videos get 50% more impressions than landscape ones, since they fit smartphones better.
Finally, if you really want to make an impact with your Facebook video, don’t just upload it to your page – promote it as a paid advertisement. One of the key reasons that Facebook vids and ads are so hot right now is that Facebook is essentially a demographics machine. When you make an ad, you can choose the age, gender, and location of your preferred audience, allowing you to tailor your video for specific products or languages. You can also narrow down your audience based on the other stuff they’ve Liked and places they’ve been, meaning that your marketing dollar is being given its best possible value. Facebook ads can cost as little or as much as you’re prepared to spend, so consider starting with a couple of small campaigns while you figure out how it all works, and you’ll be ready to hit them with your marketing blockbuster once you know what’s what.
Ready to take the next step? Try working through this graphic from the team at Business Backer to ensure you’ve got all the principles down.