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How Your Brand Can Brace for Facebook’s Shift to Video

Sharply declining organic engagement and stiff content competition on Facebook is forcing brands to pivot to video.

In a recent New York Times Magazine story, Jacob Silverman defines and exposes “the pivot,” a modern take on failure in which he writes, “a key part of the act is acknowledging that you are doing it while trying to recast the effort as something larger, more sophisticated, more highly planned.”  Entrepreneurs and digital strategists know the performance well.
While some call it adaptability, Facebook could force one such pivot to video for brands not currently comfortable with the medium. According to new data and analysis from BuzzSumo, Facebook is enacting its usual process of gradual changes that push brands to respond in a manner that benefits the platform.

Why is Engagement Declining?

The 20% drop in Facebook post engagements since January signal several sources of pain, and trends that marketers should be attuned to:

  • Algorithm changes have left Facebook to qualify and separate what it deems high-quality (i.e. videos of at least 60 seconds, societally relevant postings) vs. low-quality content (i.e. clickbait headlines, overly promotional posts, videos with low completion rates).
  • Facebook has published that an average of 1,500 stories appear on a user’s newsfeed. That’s created a competitive environment that most businesses can’t overcome.
  • Posts containing images and links have declined in engagement while videos, particularly ones with a 60% completion rate, now receive twice as much engagement as all other posts.

Facebook’s shifting priorities in the newsfeed are nothing new. External links were first demoted in 2012, followed by links to clips on YouTube and Vimeo. And instead of hosting and serving as the distributer for referral links to external domains, Facebook currently omits the middleman by hosting video directly on their platform with the ability to auto-play within the newsfeed. Even Snapchat can’t compete with the more compatible Facebook Live.

How can your brand pivot gracefully?

Rules and calculations govern how Facebook ranks your content, which means that rules also govern strategy. Here are a few to to keep top of mind as you create and share:

  • Upload your video directly to Facebook. The platform not only encourages it, but actually surfaces the video to more people if uploaded directly.
  • Use a square aspect ratio in developing your video in order to more effectively share and increase visibility across multiple social platforms.
  • Keep the video short – 60 seconds or under – and move your brand mention early in the ad for greater audience recall.
  • Opt for visual captions, logos and products in a video designed for the more popular sound-off environment. Users will bounce out of video that disrupts their environment.
  • Ensure that movement occurs immediately so as to capture attention in the newsfeed when it auto-plays during scrolling.

The beauty of more accessible media tools means that these rules can be achieved through both professional videography and more tech-savvy users.

What is the prospective future of Facebook video?

In 2016, Facebook VP Nicola Mendelsohn said the social network would “definitely” be mobile, and would “probably” be “all video” in the next few years. That’s a statement to take note of.
Even a frequent and assertive video posting strategy will likely not compete for visibility as businesses that choose to embrace paid ads. Facebook has made recent pushes toward live video ads, previously making YouTube video incompatible with sponsored posts and currently running tests of mid-roll video ads on live video. Leveraging micropayments, mid-roll video ads and direct payment from social platforms will likely monetize live-streaming videos.
The value of video is embedded in its unique ability to be authentically human in digital communication, but it’s most recently become a desperate hail mary for engagement similar to clickbait headlines for writers. Emerging successful from this industry pivot will mean analyzing your brand voice and following the rules as Facebook has presented them.
RLC Media offers in-house photography and videography for your branding and social strategy. To learn more about how we can grow your social engagement through video, contact us here.