(This post originally appeared on Philly.com)
According to an announcement last month, Facebook has started to change the way it ranks videos in its News Feed, Facebook Watch and “More Videos” recommendations. This change could have a big impact on the millions of small business owners – like myself – who use Facebook to build our customer communities.
In short, our videos will simply need to become more interesting to watch.
Facebook says that it will reward those videos that not only attract a lot of new viewers, but repeat viewers as well. The company is looking for content that isn’t too short yet not too long. They will reward those videos that have original content and punish the ones with re-purposed stuff.
The bottom line: whether you and I are posting our videos on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo or elsewhere online we’re going to need to step up our game. So what should we do?
For starters, we’ll need to make more professional looking videos and which means hiring outsiders to help us. That’s what Alan Kaplan – the owner of Wynnewood-based Kaplan Partners, did. His firm produced a great series of thought leader interviews that focus on the important issues surrounding leadership and governance that their clients and community deal with every day.
To do this, he turned to his existing marketing firm that not only has video production partners but also provides promotional and creative services. “We’ve built a great team of locally based entrepreneurial people who have taken the time to really get to know our business,” he says.
Kaplan knows that quality, long-lasting, interesting videos aren’t going to be produced with just a smartphone. To be taken seriously by social sites like Facebook, businesses need to invest in professionally-produced content.
That means multi-camera shoots in a studio or formal setting with good lighting and editing. It means scripting, post-production and effects like music and graphics. It also means having a good promotional strategy behind the videos to ensure that the best ones get seen and shared.
Most importantly: the content needs to be interesting.
That’s because content is king and Facebook – like many other platforms – wants its business users to publish stuff of value to their members. Your videos shouldn’t be all about product promotion and just talking into a webcam isn’t going to cut it either.
“Avoid making a commercial and focus on storytelling,” says Jon Sherman, who owns Video City Productions in Philadelphia. “Make content people want to see. If you are making a testimonial, make it a story about that client with your product being a part of the story, not ‘the story.’”
Good videos tell a tale, Sherman says, and the better ones include humor. They should be engaging and even use effects like closed-captioning so that viewers can follow along even without the sound.
They shouldn’t be too short or too long either. Facebook wants your videos to be at least a minute in length but most experts agree that the ideal length for a typical business video is about two to three minutes and that’s not a long time to get your message across. Brevity and focus are important.
Sherman also recommends some type of a “call to action” on your videos like a link to click, a phone number to call, or an email to request more information.
Finally, you’ll need to carefully measure the results. You’ll want to employ the right tools to see how many people are viewing your videos and how many are ultimately clicking through for more information. The best videos should be promoted more and the ones that aren’t getting much viewer attention should be getting less of your attention too.
“We use Facebook Insights and Google Analytics to measure ROI,” says Taria Avery, the owner of Avery’s Pet Styling Salon in Upper Darby. Avery already has a one-up on most of us because her content, which is mostly cute puppies and other adorable pets, is a built in winner. But tracking is still very important to her because she wants to make sure she’s promoting the cutest and most adorable videos – and so does Facebook.
“When we find a winner, we’re able to either boost the post or run Facebook ads using the video.” That way she’s better focusing her marketing resources.
Every day billions of people around the world are viewing videos for entertainment, news and information. Smart business owners like Kaplan and others have recognized this trend and are investing more to take advantage.