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3 Tips for Masterful Facebook Videos (Plus a Little More!)

If you’ve noticed lately, video has become a bigger and bigger feature on Facebook. That’s because video grabs your attention better than images and certainly better than text. Your Facebook videos don’t need to be long and expensive productions; in fact, they often do better when they aren’t.

So what makes a video great? Or shareable? It’s pretty simple really… there are three things you need to do:

1. Inspire Viewers

This is a great place to get your viewers excited about the great work that you do or about the need for the organization/campaign. Video is the greatest way to tell a story and create the emotional involvement needed to engage people in a real way. This is also a great opportunity to give some advice or to challenge people to do what they can in their lives and their communities.

Even better is if you can challenge them through the message itself, like Will Smith does in this short clip. (But you don’t need celebrity status to be successful at it.)

2. Educate Your Audience

People love to learn new things, especially when it’s something fun, interesting and there isn’t a quiz at the end. What matters is that the user is learning something in a simple and relatable way. Surely you’ve seen the recipe videos floating around on Facebook; if not, you should—they are awesome! These videos are a great example of educational content that nonprofits should be creating and posting.

Watch this and think about a few things as we drool over this tasty video. Even though there’s sound in the video, there’s no need for it, as most people don’t listen to the sound because they watch the auto-play on Facebook. It’s quick, easy to follow and entertaining, with great subject matter (and nonprofits have truckloads of great subject matter).

3. Be Entertaining

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First, the first two seconds of the video need to capture the viewer’s attention.

Second, you need to upload it to Facebook, not drop in a link from YouTube. Why? Because of auto-play. A video uploaded to Facebook will auto-play so that the viewer doesn’t need to do anything.

Third, and we can’t stress this enough, tell a story. Stories are the most powerful way to connect with people. Just check out this video from BuzzFeed. They just showed up at an event (probably asked permission first) and started shooting. It tells a story; it’s entertaining and inspiring; and it teaches us a simple lesson: “Don’t stand up your grandpa.”

That’s it. Just keep it simple: inspire your audience, educate them and don’t be boring. Most of all, have fun.

Bonus Tips

Create a playlist

Playlists are an easy way to group videos that have a theme. Viewers will often binge on playlists until they get bored or run out of videos. Once you’ve created a few great videos, string them together with a playlist.

Boost it

Boosting a video is an awesome and often cheap way to make a splash on Facebook. Keep your goals in mind though. Boosting a video is great for awareness, reach and engagement, not conversions. Image posts are better if you want people to click through.

Use 360 video

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Two things we can say for sure. Nearly 90% of all videos on Facebook are viewed on mobile, and fans love being a part of the action. 360 video covers both. It gives the viewer an immersive experience and is strictly for mobile devices. For this one, you’ll need to buy a special camera (they’re as low as $400 and coming down). The uploads are often very easy with little to no processing required. Imagine taking your fans on a walk through the community that you serve, through the forest that you protect, or to visit the animals that you’ve saved. Now that’s awesome.

Watch the data

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Facebook allows you to see when people stop watching the video. There will always be a drop at the beginning because people are just scrolling by. But pay attention to big drops later in the video. If viewers drop off in the first few seconds, then the video wasn’t catchy enough. If they drop later, they may have gotten bored, gotten the point of the video, or seen the ending to the story and didn’t feel the need to continue. One more reason to learn how to tell great stories.

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Facebook Live and the New Discovery Tab

Facebook is pushing hard to become the leader in online video. If you haven’t noticed, Facebook launched live streaming not long ago and there have been a lot more videos in the News Feed. Now they’re stepping it up once again—and it’s great news for nonprofits.

Live for Groups and Events

Facebook rolled out the ability to go live in Facebook Groups and Facebook Events. You can chat live in your nonprofit group, take your whole team along to a conference or event, or give a presentation.

Live video in Events means that you can go live from your fundraiser or work party to allow those that can’t make it to join in the fun. Giving a presentation? Go live backstage to the people to give the audience a sneak peak. You can even use Events to schedule a live Q&A session or to host a meeting.

Live Reactions, Replay Comments, Live Filters

Live Reactions make it easy for your viewers to express their feelings during the broadcast; think of it like reading to a live audience, because you are. Using the same reactions that Facebook launched in the News Feed, viewers can express Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry, and the reactions are animated right on the video. Live Reactions appear in real time and then disappear so that broadcasters and viewers can weigh in on the topic—it’s like hearing the crowd’s cheer. When one of your friends reacts to your broadcast, or one that you’re both watching together, you’ll see their profile pic and a little starburst before their reaction appears.

Live video on Facebook allows broadcasters to engage with their commenters and respond to suggestions and questions. Facebook has seen that people comment over 10 times more on Facebook live videos than on regular videos.

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Facebook also launched Live Filters to allow broadcasters to personalize their video. And, coming soon is the ability to draw or doodle on your video while live.

Discover live videos: Invite Friends, Live Video Destination and Live Map.

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Now this is the bee’s knees for nonprofits. Facebook has also added the option to send invitations to friends to watch with you, right from the live video. Tap on the invite icon, select a friend and they’ll receive a push notification.

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Finally, Facebook is starting to roll out a dedicated place on Facebook mobile where you can discover live videos that the world is talking about, live videos from the friends and creators that interest you, and—this is the big one—live videos on topics that you’re interested in. From there, you can also search live and on-demand videos, or go live yourself.

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But wait—there’s more!

The Facebook Live Map

The Facebook Live Map (on desktop) lets you find video from 60 countries around the world.

Oh wait, there’s even more!

New live video metrics

Facebook also launched new metrics for Pages sharing live video. Now you can understand how long it takes people to tune in to a broadcast, how many viewers a broadcast has (at its peak), how many viewers stay and watch the whole show, when people drop off, and the total number of unique people who watched the video while it was live. You can also see a visual representation of viewers over time during the live broadcast.

Whew… that’s a lot.

Watch Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, go live to answer questions about what’s new with live video:

The secret to Facebook videos

Videos are one of the fastest growing media types on Facebook, with over 100 million hours of video watched each day. Simply put, native videos should be an essential part of any Facebook pages content strategy.

But just posting a video will not guarantee success; far from it. In fact, most of the videos that you have seen or even created in the past will not work well on Facebook.

The reason for this is that there are two distinct differences between how people consume videos on Facebook vs others platforms such as YouTube or even your website.

Sound off

88% of all videos are watched without sound on Facebook! On Facebook, videos begin playing right away without sound as soon as it appears on the user’s newsfeed. Unlike other channels, the user has to actually take action to turn on the sound for you video. This means that if your video is not powerful and effective without sound, it is being missed by nearly 90% of the people who see it.

On top of that many people browsing Facebook are in a situation where it isn’t appropriate to to turn the sound on. They are at work, sitting with a sleeping child or on the train to work.

Therefore, your video must provide a powerful viewing experience with no sound. There are different strategies for doing this, but the easiest is often just to make sure anything that is spoken is also displayed as captions. You can use SRT files but ideally, these captions are added directly to the video file itself.

This video from AJ+ is a great example of using easy to read captions

Auto-play

You have 2 seconds to grab your views attention! Because Facebook videos auto-play it’s essential to focus on quality from the first frame. If you don’t grab them in the first 2 second, you have lost them forever. So never bury the lead! Don’t be the one to create a video that starts too slowly or doesn’t lead with the punchline.

This video from Good is a great example of optimizing for auto play to get people’s attention quickly

It may help to think of Facebook videos as moving pictures, harkening back to the silent picture days. But unlike sitting in a theatre watching Charlie Chaplin, your videos need to hold people’s attention even when they are watching on their mobile devices in a place where they simply can’t turn on the sound without disrupting the peace.