Over 8 billion videos or 100 million hours of videos are watched on Facebook every day.

These stats were reported early last year so imagine how much larger the numbers are today as Facebook continued to grow and double down on videos.

Now seems to be the perfect time to take a closer look at Facebook video and how to use videos to engage more fans on the platform.

With Facebook video being the top priority of marketers in 2017, we’d love to help you get ahead of this rising trend. In this post, you’ll learn 17 actionable tips to increase the views, engagement, shares of your Facebook videos.

Facebook video tips

17 Top Facebook Video Tips for More Views, Shares, and Engagement

With Facebook constantly evolving and introducing new features, your video marketing strategy has to evolve, too. Check out the below video and latest tips to help you create videos that captivate your audience:

  1. Create square videos
  2. Catch people’s attention within the first 3 seconds
  3. Add captions to your videos
  4. Suggest viewers tap for sound
  5. Focus on one key point
  6. Upload your videos natively (via Buffer!)
  7. Craft a descriptive title
  8. Create a Facebook-specific copy
  9. Give a preview of the video in your copy
  10. Add a call-to-action
  11. Tag other pages
  12. Choose preferred audience for your videos
  13. Use insights to understand video performance
  14. Go live
  15. Feature a video on your Page
  16. Boost with Facebook ads
  17. Embed Facebook videos on blog posts

Let’s take a look at each tip in detail.

1. Create square videos

Earlier this year, we spent $1,500 to find out what makes videos successful on social media.

We found that square videos outperformed landscape videos in terms of average engagement, views, and reach, especially on mobile. And we aren’t the only one to see these results.

Mobile vs Desktop Video Engagement

Here’re a couple possible reasons:

Landscape vs Square Video Comparison

With more and more people viewing videos on mobile, it’ll be great to experiment with square videos to see if they improve your video performance. You might even want to consider creating vertical videos since Facebook is now showing larger previews for vertical videos in News Feed on mobile.

We have been using Animoto to create simple, short videos and Adobe Premiere and After Effects for more professionally produced videos.

2. Catch people’s attention within the first 3 seconds

Facebook videos auto-play in order to captivate users’ attention and convince them to watch more.

As such, your Facebook video should have a powerful first few seconds that captivate your audience even without sound.

BuzzFeed has become a master at this. Here’s how they’ve done it:

  • Great thumbnails – BuzzFeed uploads custom thumbnails that do a great job at capturing people’s attention while they scroll through their feed.
  • Tease the video with a short post update: Sometimes it’s the title of the video itself (if that is compelling enough). Other times they tease what the video is about.
  • Immediate start: BuzzFeed doesn’t waste time in capturing people’s attention. In general, the first frame is already geared towards piquing someone’s interest.

Here’s a recent example which has garnered more than 8.7 million views at the time of writing:

How to uploading a custom thumbnail

When you upload a video, you can select a thumbnail or add a custom thumbnail for your video.

Select thumbnail for Facebook video

If you didn’t upload a custom thumbnail for your existing Facebook videos, you can select “Edit Post” from the menu and a similar pop-up will appear.

Edit post to customize thumbnail

3. Add captions to your videos

85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound.

Even though Facebook now auto-plays videos on the mobile News Feed with sound, it’s unclear how many people watch videos with the sound on. Facebook users can disable the auto-play-with-sound feature, and videos will auto-play without sound if the mobile phone is on silent mode.

My hunch is that most Facebook users still watch videos without sound.

If a viewer can’t understand your video without the sound, you would likely lose that viewer and the opportunity to convey your message to her.

To prevent that, you can add captions to your videos through Facebook. When you are uploading your video onto Facebook, there’s an option to upload a SRT file of your captions. You can also add captions to existing Facebook videos by editing the video.

Add captions to Facebook videos

(It seems that Facebook has been rolling out an auto-captioning feature so you might not have to do this manually soon.)

Alternatively, you can add text overlay to your videos using a video editing tool like Animoto. Colorful and to-the-point text overlays can make the video more appealing and engaging.

Here’s a great example by HubSpot:

Text overlay on video

4. Suggest viewers tap for sound

Another neat way to work around the silent auto-played Facebook videos is to suggest viewers tap for sound with a pop-up.

Pop-ups can sometimes be annoying so it has to be designed and timed appropriately to create a non-disruptive effect. 20th Century Fox (which I learned this tip from) showed a great example with their Kingsman trailer video:

Tap for sound example

The style of the pop-up is in line with the Kingsman theme (and similar to the style of the captions). It’s also well-timed as it doesn’t prevent you from seeing any crucial bits of the video (and it doesn’t take up too much space on the screen).

5. Focus on one key point

If you want to make a shareable video, focus on one easy-to-understand point.

This is a tip from popular YouTube creators, Rhett Mclaughlin and Link Neal, in a video on creating shareable videos.

Can we summarize what this video is all about in one sentence that is easily understood and also compelling in a way that people will want to share?

The point is if you can’t summarize it in one sentence, then it’s going to take someone longer to explain it when they’re trying to share it.

If your video is easy to understand, viewers would be more likely to share it as it is easy for them to explain what’s great about the video when sharing it.

Rhett and Link try to think from their audience’s point-of-view on why they might share a video even before writing a script for the video. Why might your audience share your videos?

According to Jonathan Perelman, former GM of Video & VP of Agency Strategy at BuzzFeed, there are five main reasons why people share videos:

  • To be social
  • To express how they are feeling about a particular topic
  • To show off, or humble-brag
  • To prove they were the first ones to find something
  • To make friends and colleagues laugh

Do your videos help your audience achieve any of these?

6. Upload your videos natively (via Buffer!)

Videos uploaded onto Facebook natively perform way better than links to YouTube or similar video platforms.

(“Natively” refers to videos that have been uploaded to a network directly and played straight in a feed, versus those that are uploaded elsewhere and shared as links, e.g. YouTube videos.)

Quintly analyzed over 6 million Facebook posts in the period of July to December 2016 and found the following:

The interaction rate for Facebook native videos were on average 109.67% higher than for YouTube videos.

Facebook native videos had on average a 477.76% higher share rate compared to Youtube videos.

With Buffer, you can upload videos directly to your queue and post them natively on Facebook while still being able to take advantage of your optimal Buffer schedule.

7. Craft a descriptive title

Facebook recommends choosing a descriptive title that will make the video easily searchable.

With Facebook seeing more than two billion searches every day, it’ll be worth to optimize your videos for search.

You can add the title when you upload your video onto Facebook.

Add title

8. Create a Facebook-specific copy

If you have a presence on multiple social media platforms, you might sometimes want to share a video to several platforms. A best practice is to tailor your copy for each social media platform as what works best on each platform differs.

Here’re two key characteristics of Facebook and how you can make good use of them

High character limit for posts: You can type up to 63,206 characters for a Facebook post (though Facebook will truncate your post at about 400 characters). This gives you the flexibility to experiment with both long and short copy. We noticed that short copy is better for driving clicks while long copy is better for generating engagement.

High character limit for comments: It seems that you can type up for 8,000 characters for a Facebook comment. This makes it great for inviting your audience to share longer-form thoughts about your video.

For example, Airbnb encouraged its audience to share their favorite vacation mom story on their Mother’s Day video. As the character limit for comments is high, Airbnb’s audience could share much more about their stories than, say, on Twitter.

Airbnb video CTA

Here’re five ideas for creating engaging copy for Facebook:

  • Experiment with post length
  • Ask a question
  • Use a list
  • Add a quote from your content
  • Include an emoji or two ?

If you want to learn more about each tip, feel free to check out the full post on crafting the perfect post for each platform here.

9. Give a preview of the video in your copy

Here’s another way to write your Facebook video copy: Briefly describe your video using your copy.

Taking the time to watch a video can be a time commitment. Sometimes, it can help to provide a little information about your video in your copy so that people can quickly decide if it’d be worth their time to watch your video.

Facebook recommends “pulling out a key quote or moment from the video as the text component of your post” in order to set up the expectations of what will be seen in the video.

An informative copy about the video, coupled with a relevant thumbnail, can be a great formula for attracting people’s attention as they scroll through their News Feed.

Here’re a couple examples:

Provide information about the video

10. Add a call-to-action

Having a call-to-action (CTA) on your video is a great way to encourage engagement, drive traffic to your website, and even convert viewers into customers.

It might be common to think of CTAs as buttons to a signup form or website. But CTAs can be as simple as a sentence calling for an action, such as “Read the full blog post here: Link“.

While Facebook has removed the call-to-action functionality for videos, there are still several free ways to add a CTA to your Facebook video.

  • In your post copy, you could include a link to your blog post or website and invite viewers to find out more information by clicking on the link. You could also simply ask your audience to share their thoughts as comments.
  • During the video, you could mention a CTA if you are talking in the video or use a text overlay (e.g. Learn more social media tips at blog.buffer.com). Wistia found that such mid-roll CTAs have the highest conversion rates.
  • At the end of the video, you could have a text overlay or a static image with a CTA and let the video play for a few seconds after the actual content ends.

For instance, Gary Vaynerchuk likes to include his share bear in the middle or at the end of his videos.

Share bear CTA

You could also add a CTA on your Facebook post itself if you boost the video. More on this below.

11. Tag other pages

Another feature you can use to try and spread your Facebook video is tagging other Pages that either contributed to the video or that you would like to make aware of the video.

It is important to keep the tagging relevant.

Here’re a few examples of “who to tag”:

  • People who contributed to the video directly – “Featuring Taylor Swift
  • People that are mentioned in the video – “We love Harry Potter and here’s why.”
  • People who inspired you to make the video – “HT to Leo Widrich for the inspiration.”
  • People who are related to the video or that you would like to make aware of the video – “We would like to tag Buffer to take on the challenge next.”

To tag someone on Facebook, simply type the “@” symbol before the title of the Page or person you would like to tag and a few options should appear for you to pick.

Tag other pages

12. Choose preferred audience for your videos

According to TechCrunch who studied the Facebook News Feed, relevance is a key factor that Facebook’s algorithm considers when ranking posts on users’ News Feed.

[Facebook’s algorithm] assigns each story a personalized relevancy score that’s different for each person that sees it, and puts the most relevant stories first.

Here’s the good news: Facebook has a feature to help you share your video to the most relevant audience!

Once you have uploaded your video onto Facebook (before you publish it), there’s an option in the lower-left corner to set your preferred audience for this video.

Set preferred audience

When you click on it, a pop-up will appear where you can set the following:

  • Preferred audience: This allows you to set the people you’d like to reach based on their interests and the Pages they’ve liked.For example, a sports retailer could choose interests such as “running” and “long distance running” for a video on a new long distance running shoes.
  • Audience restrictions: This allows you to limit who can see your video. Only people in audience group you’ve chosen can see your video (anywhere on Facebook).For example, a fashion retailer in Singapore could set the restrictions such that only female aged 25-35 in Singapore can see the video.

Set preferred audience

By setting your preferred audience and restricting who can see your video, your video will be shown to the most relevant audience, who will most likely watch your video and interact with your post (if you have set the right targeting).

13. Use insights to understand video performance

Facebook provides metrics like minutes viewed, video views, and average watch time, which can provide great insights into which videos generated the most engagement with your viewers.

You can see these metrics by clicking on any videos in the “Videos” tab of your Facebook Page Insights.

Some of the metrics I like to look at include:

  • Video Average Watch Time: The graph will show you the point at which the audience dropped off. Looking at that point to understand what made people stop watching might help you in creating better content.
  • 10-Second Views: This is the number of people who have watched your video for 10 seconds (or to completion if your video is less than 10 seconds).
  • Post Engagement: This section will tell you the reach of your video and the engagement it has received.

Video post engagement

14. Go live

If you want more people to watch your videos and see your Facebook posts, consider going live on Facebook.

When Facebook launched Facebook Live, it tweaked its algorithm to rank live videos more favorably as live videos kept people engaged.

As a first step, we are making a small update to News Feed so that Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live, compared to after they are no longer live. People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live.

Social Media Examiner also found that the more they went live on Facebook, the more their non-live content received exposure. Michael Stelzner, CEO and founder of Social Media Examiner, hypothesized that as their brand is in front of their fans more often, the fans would go to their Page to see their content more — even if the fans don’t watch the live video.

Here’s another bonus: Facebook would automatically record your live video and publish it on your Facebook Page or profile after the broadcast ends.

When we previously live-streamed our marketing strategy team meeting, the video generated more than 10,000 views on the first day. (We were surprised by it!)

15. Feature a video on your Page

Facebook allows you to feature a video in the “Videos” tab of your Page, which would auto-play. This can be a great way to showcase your best video to those who are interested in watching your videos.

Here’s how it looks like on our Page:

Buffer's featured video

If you have not selected a featured video, Facebook would prompt you to choose.

Feature a video

If you want to change your featured video, click on the pen icon in the upper-right corner and select “Change Featured Video”.

Change featured video

16. Boost with Facebook ads

Facebook’s in-depth data on its users makes it a great platform for running ads to reach a larger audience with your video.

You can use Facebook ads to promote your videos to a specified target audience. Let’s say for example that you made a video about tables in Paris, France. Facebook will allow you to target people who have shown an interest in furniture and who live in Paris.

I’d love to show you the highlights of creating a video ad through the Facebook Ads Manager:

Step 1: Select “Video views” as your marketing objective.

Video views marketing objective

Step 2: Set your audience, ad placements, and budget.

Set your audience, ad placements, and budget

Step 3: Upload a video or select one from your Page’s video library.

Upload or select a video

Step 4: Craft your copy.

Craft your copy

Step 5: Add a CTA.

A benefit of using video ads is that you can add a call-to-action (CTA) button on the video post. To do that, you have to tick the “Add a website URL” box and fill up the fields. The preview on the right is how the video ad will look like.

Add a CTA

Alternatively, you can boost any existing video by clicking on the “Boost Post” button on your video post.

Boost video post

If you prefer step-by-step instructions, you might like our complete guide to Facebook advertising.

17. Embed Facebook videos on blog posts

You can also embed your Facebook videos on your blog posts to reach more people.

To get the embed code, go to the video you would like to embed, click on the drop-down menu in the upper-right corner of the post and select “Embed”.

Embed video option

Copy and paste the code where you would like the video to appear on your website. You can select whether you want to include the copy of the post (i.e. Include full post).

Embed video code

Here’s an example:

More resources on video marketing

How to listen: iTunes | Google Play | SoundCloud | Stitcher | RSS

Over to you

What has been your experience with Facebook videos? Do you have any additional tips and tricks that may help other readers with their Facebook video strategy?

I’d love it if you share them with me in the comments! 🙂

Oh, and if you enjoyed this post, you might like our 14 actionable tips for increasing Facebook Page engagement, too.

This post was originally written and published in 2015 by Sandrine Sahakians and has been updated with the latest Facebook video tips and information.

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Written by Alfred Lua

Content Crafter at Buffer. I swim, cycle, and run a lot. When I’m not doing all those, I love to read and try new things.

  • Awesome, actionable post—thanks, Sandrine! It’s exciting to see the bump in engagement Facebook videos can ignite. I’ve been getting a kick out of experimenting with them the past few months.

    (And then Buffer announced video scheduling—for the win! ?)

    One thing I haven’t been able to find much advice/research on is the use of background music in Facebook videos. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    I just launched a site that offers CC0 music specifically for small-budget projects like social media videos, so I’d love to hear any insight you might have on the topic.

    Many thanks again for these tips!

    • Hi Logan!! Thanks for your comment! Facebook video is something we’re really excited to keep experimenting with.

      Good question about music. I personally either purchase royalty-free music (one of the websites I use is Pond5 – http://www.pond5.com/) or use the YouTube music library which has amazing music that you can use for free.

      Would love to hear more about your site, it sounds like something really exciting especially for creators 🙂

      • Hey, Sandrine. Thanks for your thoughts ?

        Pond5 has a great library—lots of options. I really like their whole “artist marketplace created by artists” positioning, too.

        Since you asked (and thank you for asking!), Music for Makers—the project I just launched—offers a free alternative to sites like Pond5. Essentially, we send one original, CC0/Public Domain song each week by email at no cost.

        I recently saw a couple people describe us as the music equivalent of Unsplash/Death to the Stock Photo (which made me geek out a little).

        The whole thing was really prompted by the exciting explosion of video on Facebook (as you wrote about above) and other social platforms. Creating—and now distributing—videos has never been easier. But I think background music for videos is still a pain point, especially for small/no-budget projects like short social media video posts.

        So I started Music for Makers in attempts to address that problem.

        If you want to check things out for yourself, you can find us at http://musicformakers.com. And if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

        P.S. I really value what you guys do here on the Buffer blog. The content you churn out on a regular basis is always top notch and incredibly helpful. I don’t comment often, so since I am, I just wanted to let you know.

        • Oh wow that’s amazing! I signed up for Music for Makers 🙂 This is such an incredible service!! Thank you for sharing!

          • Ah, very cool! Thank you, Sandrine ?

  • Thanks for sharing these great tips Sandrine. Great stuff for getting started.

    A big item those using video should know is that you need to be able to get your message across with just the video. Don’t expect to be able to get people to click a link after watching. It’s simply too much to ask of your viewers. The call-to-actions are provided but don’t do a whole lot (as far as getting people to act after viewing). In the vast majority of cases people will simply move on after watching. It’s far far more effective to do a link post if you’re looking to drive someone someplace and the call to actions with link posts resonate far better. This insight comes from lots of testing across a large number of campaigns including a good sized (around $100k on a smaller current campaign which included native video as an asset) spend on paid promotion. While people are certainly down to watch, getting them to act after taking the time to watch is very difficult. I’d certainly recommend considering different options other than video if your intention is such.

    On “3. Create Content Exclusively for Facebook”, I can see arguments both for and against this. Your audiences are likely different across each of your social channels. Some people choose to follow you on just Twitter, others only on Facebook, while some may choose to follow you on all channels (likely the smallest of the group). Creating exclusive content for just one channel means many may miss out on it on other channels. Some see it as an opportunity to encourage people to follow you elsewhere but I’ve found it far better to let people follow you where they choose to and consume what you have to offer in the way best suited to them. Encouraging people to follow you on another network rarely works either (this type of promotion generally sees dismal response even with paid promotion behind it). People on Facebook don’t want to go over to Twitter to see what you have to say, they want to see it on Facebook where they already are.

    If you have the ability (time, money, etc) to provide unique content on each network that’s awesome. But why limit your awesome stuff to only one network when it can be shared across all of them?

    Thanks again for sharing this Sandrine. Video is certainly getting big and more are jumping onboard. Looking forward to your continued sharing of knowledge around building it into the marketing mix. 🙂

    • Hi Ben! Thank you so much for such a thorough comment!

      You make a great point about Calls To Action. I think that while it might be hard to get people to act after watching a video, it might still be valuable to have them for the few cases where viewers are ready to take action. They are certainly not a must for every case. 🙂

      For exclusive content, that is very true. I think it depends on your goal with your content and Facebook. While it might not necessarily bring more followers, it does reward the followers you already have. It might be something worth exploring.

      Thank you again for sharing your thoughts, there is definitely lots to think about and explore when it comes to video 🙂

  • Sandrine, I’ve noticed this in a big way. Sweaty video after a walk, discussing deep topics I’ve been musing on, have gotten around 2,000 views… who would have thought? But your tips here will help me refine, so thank you!

  • This post is right on Sandrine! Facebook native videos have had a much higher views and engagement that YouTube videos on my Pages. I think a great way to get the most out of a video is to upload to Facebook specifically for your Facebook audience AND YouTube/Vimeo to be shared on other social sites. This is something I think Buffer should test too. I’d love to hear how it turns out on a larger scale. Thanks for the great post, sharing, and have a Thankful Thursday! 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your comment Steve and great insight! Have a lovely Thursday too 🙂

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  • Christopher Davis

    The power of Facebook video really can’t be denied at this point, particularly in the mobile space. I think it’s easy to get caught thinking “Facebook will never surpass YouTube as a video hub, so why bother?” when they’re actually two different animals and both can be extremely useful to any business.

    Here’s a couple great follow-up posts from Social Media Examiner with some unique ideas on how to utilize FB video and Digital Marketer on how to create awesome FB video ads (still VERY under utilized). http://bit.ly/1MlWLxf

    • Thanks Christopher! Definitely agreed that Facebook is a platform to explore when it comes to video. 🙂

  • jack kevin

    Mark Zuckerberg stated that she thought “going forward, use many promotional video company of the written content that folks write about will likely be online video media. It’s just incredibly compelling. ” The prediction has become a reality.

  • Fearisthemindkiller

    I understand you can’t tag pages/people in Buffer. At least not for FB….any chance you guys are working on that feature?

  • Tarun Kumar

    facebook dont allow big thumb for youtube video so you can use http://createyoutube.com/ For creating big thumb for youtube videos which you can use it to share youtube videos without uploding it to facebook.

  • Birthday Wisher

    This is brilliant stuff .i found a nice website where you can get timelime covers which can generate your name also Thanks .

    http://www.mycovers.net/

  • Muhammad Salman

    Easy way to download facebook video online Facebook Video Downloader http://www.downfbvideo.com

  • Emily Smith

    Is there any recommendation for the amount of text surrounding the video post? Should it be a transcript of the video or just a short blub and links?

  • Mel Dee

    What software or app do you suggest to create the videos with?