“Video is the next big thing!”  

If you work in social or marketing, chances are you’ve heard that “insight,” ad nauseum, for years.  Saying video is the “next big thing” is like talking about how crucial “mobile” is - it’s stating what’s incredibly obvious.  Of course, this in part because video is the next big thing (or, at least one of them).  

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TDT has been using video more and more for our clients, and we’re not claiming it’s a magical format, but we have seen promising results.  We’d like to share some of our results, and give a bit of insight into our experience with video.  If any of this is interesting to you, we’d love to discuss - read on, then reach out!

Is Video “Magic” for Engagement?

We don’t need to reiterate that video is a format primed for engagement and conversion, but the stats are powerful.  To cite a few:

  • Companies that use videos in marketing grow revenue 49% faster year over year than those that don’t (Aberdeen Group, 2015).
  • Companies using videos in their marketing see 27% higher CTR and 34% higher web conversion rates than those that don’t (Aberdeen Group, 2015)
  • 4x as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it (Animoto).
  • A Facebook video receives, on average, 135% more organic reach than a Facebook photo (Socialbakers, 2015).

But you don’t need us for generic industry stats - let’s look at some of our own data, from the previous 3 months of posting for our client Maille on Facebook.  We posted 111 times in this 3 month period, and 32 of these posts were videos.  What did we see?

When sorting for most overall engagement, the top performers are all video posts.  Sorting for top performers on clickthrough rate also puts a number of video posts in the top 10.  So for Maille, for this period, it’s pretty safe to say that video delivers engagement.

However, we haven’t seen video to be a one-shot solution to improving on every metric; none of the lowest CPM posts from this period are videos, and videos don’t always give us the lowest cost per click.  Video has a proven power for engaging an audience, and for compelling that audience to take an action on a message - i.e. enter a giveaway - but it’s not a magic solution for driving down CPM.

Top 3 reaching ads were all videos, which outperformed the top image ads by over 2X

Generally speaking, engagement is a top goal of anything we do on social.  But it’s also crucial to deliver ads and clickthrough with maximum efficiency.  And while video does help these KPI’s, our most impactful CPM and CPC optimizations aren’t simply from leveraging video, but from focusing on the basics: ongoing optimization of audience/targeting, and using the right ad objective for the campaign goals.  For example, when we look at the same previous 3 months of data from Maille, and compare them to Q4 2016, we’ve seen CPM fall by over 66%.  That’s huge.  And while video is part of this, the key efficiency driver is optimizing our audience, and using different ad objectives (i.e. Brand Awareness vs Traffic).  

How do we use Video?

So we’ve seen video can be powerful for engaging users, but we’ve also seen that it’s not a single-shot way to improve all campaign KPIs.  So how do leverage the engagement uptick we can get from video, but also ensure we’re delivering on other campaign KPI’s - stuff like low CPMs or high clickthrough rates?

The answer is straightforward: experiment.  For example, we’ll often create video content as part of a giveaway campaign.  But we’ll also produce some still images for the campaign creative, and then run multiple versions of the ad: some using video, some using a still image, some optimized for traffic, some optimized for brand awareness, etc.  What we often see is that we can get better CPMs when video ads are optimized for brand awareness, but we get far better CTR when video ads are optimized for traffic.  Depending on the campaign objectives, we can then optimize accordingly: put more budget behind the traffic-optimized ad if we’re driving signups, or more budget behind brand awareness if we’re trying to build mindshare among our audience.  

A Few Tips for Social Video:

Chances are you know most of this, but a few basics we keep in mind to help our social video ads be effective:

Immediate impact: to be effective, content needs to stand out, and quickly grab the audience’s attention.  This means any video you post needs an eye-catching thumbnail or cover image.  

Visually appealing: in this blog post, we’ve been reviewing data from Maille. Many Maille products are used as ingredients - i.e. they are part of recipes. But when we show Maille products being used in social video, we’re not trying to give our audience a super-comprehensive start-to-finish cooking lesson (cooking fans can get that content on Youtube or any number of recipe sites).  What we’re focused on is visual appeal - fun looking sequences, colorful ingredients, etc, and we’re less focused on capturing every recipe step in detail.  

Square (1:1) video: aspect ratio for social video may seem like an afterthought, but it shouldn’t be.  Like with anything on social, it’s crucial that your content be optimized for the platform and consumption scenario.  You (probably) wouldn’t make a long-form video with a complex plot for your brand’s Instagram, because that’s not what people want to consume on Instagram.  Video aspect ratio is similar: you may create 16:9 (widescreen) format video for your brand’s YouTube channel, but on social, your audience is consuming content on mobile - so if you’re putting 16:9 video on Instagram, you’re not using all the screenspace available, and therefore not optimizing for the medium.  This is why we make sure most our social video is shot 1:1, so that it gives our content the maximum amount of screenspace on our audiences’ screens.

Content strategy: just like video can’t magically improve all your metrics or KPIs, it’s also not an excuse for messaging that is unclear or uncompelling.  If we’re promoting brand relatability, we make sure that our videos are very relatable - i.e. showing real people.  If we’re promoting a contest, we make sure the video content clearly emphasizes the contest prize in a compelling and quick-to-understand way.  When you’re creating a video brief for internal production or for your content production partner, it’s crucial that they understand your objectives beyond just making it look pretty.  Whatever outcome or action you’re hoping to elicit from your audience, make sure your video drives towards this objective.

 Conclusion:

Video is an important part of our content mix, and it’s a powerful format.  But while the stats on video performance are undeniable, it’s crucial to use video with the same best practices that you’d apply to any other content type:

  • Test + optimize, test + optimize

  • Set up your campaign to meet your specific goals (campaigns can be effective across multiple KPIs, but often there are tradeoffs between reach and clickthrough - so if you have a primary goal, make sure you’re setting yourself up to deliver excellent results against that goal, rather than simply doing “OK” on all KPIs)

  • Optimize your content for the audience, message, and platform: i.e. short video, compelling thumbnail image, and 1:1 are some key best practices for social video.

  • Message: just because video can be fun, doesn’t mean you should forget about a concise, actionable message.  Appeal to your audiences’ needs, wants, or aspirations.  

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