Facebook Video Ads: Everything You Need To Know

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Facebook Video Ads: Everything You Need To Know

Mike Templeman ,

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I write about startups, scaling service based businesses and marketing

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Gone are the days when video was just the forgotten step child of Facebook marketing, not even worthy of being called the ‘Robin’ to the image ads’ ‘Batman.’ Since the network first began to enable video auto play in newsfeeds almost two years ago, video has become an integral feature on the platform that rivals (and, in some ways, surpasses) even YouTube.

Considering its rapidly increasing reach statistics, many marketers feel tempted to push their budget all-in on the Facebook Video concept. And to some degree, that makes sense: the most successful type of post on the largest social media platform in the world sounds like a great determinant of success.

But when considering Facebook video, you should be thoroughly prepared for all of its sides – including the less fortunate ones. Here is your go-to guide for integrating Facebook video into your social media marketing efforts.

The Power of Facebook Video

Let’s begin with everything that’s great about Facebook video. As you probably know, Facebook is by far the world’s largest social media network, with almost 1.5 billion monthly active users. At the same time, Facebook videos now get more reach than any other post on the network. Videos are undoubtedly effective as a visual storytelling and marketing vehicle, and Facebook offers the largest possible platform to tell your story to target audiences around the globe.

YouTube, formerly considered the end-all-be-all of digital video, now has serious competition. In its Q3 of 2015 earnings report, Facebook reported no less than 8 billion daily video views, which surpass YouTube’s last-published figure of 7 billion. If you are looking to share your videos anywhere digitally, you have to at least give Facebook serious thought – which would have been unfathomable just two years ago.

Understanding Facebook Video Metrics

Of course, not all is rosy in the land of Facebook video. While the network has made significant efforts to improve the way it reports its analytics to video marketers, its metrics still lack behind YouTube.
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As you can probably imagine, automatically playing videos means that most ‘views’ will occur right in a user’s Facebook newsfeed. But that means Facebook has no way of actually tracking ‘passive’ vs. ‘active’ views; every time a user stops for at least 3 seconds with the video visible in his feed, the network adds another tick mark in its ‘views’ analytics.

Compare that with dedicated video sites like YouTube, on which watching a video requires an active click. Naturally, passive viewers will be much less likely to memorize a brand or take action than those who actively view a video. If you are thinking about advertising through Facebook video, you should keep this vague metric in mind.

The Limits and Opportunities of Facebook’s Video Length

Another side effect of Facebook’s autoplay is the limited attention span it will face, especially when compared to its biggest competitor – YouTube. Our attention span online is now at 8 seconds, which explains that videos under a minute far outperform their longer counterparts.

If you’re looking to share your in-depth company profile or a virtual company tour, Facebook may not be the ideal medium. On the other hand, it’s perfect for short clips that advertise your business in a flash or capture an individual moment. Stick to YouTube for your in-depth CEO interview, but use Facebook for a fast-paced, 15 second commercial.

Search vs. Discovery

How much brand recognition do you have among your potential customers? Answering that question might just be the answer to your preferred choice of medium, as well. Users on Facebook simply don’t search for content they’d like to see; instead, they scroll down their newsfeed, and if they come across a video they might like, they stick around to check it out.

YouTube behavior, on the other hand, is significantly different. Here, users search for specific topics, which means that the right video headline and description optimization may just allow your organic videos to pop up in search results similar to Google GOOGL +1.61%. Of course, you can also invest in the typical pre-roll ads that play ahead of organic videos with related keywords.

A man check his facebook on his smart phone. AFP PHOTO/ Nicolas ASFOURI

The Dangers of Intrusiveness

Finally, we’d be remiss not to mention the ugly site of Facebook video: the negative side effects of auto play. While the feature ushered in video relevance on the network, it has resulted in countless tutorials on how to turn it off. If you rely on video too much, you may risk your audience getting annoyed with your brand and developing a negative image about you that will prevent them from becoming customers.

But the negative aspects of auto play don’t stop there. When a news crew was fatally shot in Virginia this summer, an autoplaying video of the shooting emerged on Facebook that sparked fierce discussions about the intrusiveness and ethical nature of the feature. Of course, we’re not suggesting that you will use Facebook’s video in any way that comes even close to this tragic incident, but it is worth mentioning that the network’s auto play does not come without an ugly side.

Should you use Facebook video for your marketing efforts? In the end, the decision is up to you. The network’s global reach undoubtedly make it an attractive option, but only if your videos are short and attention-getting enough to actually make those views count.

If your operation and budget supports it, the best choice remains a diversified strategy in which your short, attention-getting, paid videos play on Facebook, while your more content-heavy videos can find their home on YouTube.

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