5 Reasons to Adopt a Video First Content Marketing Strategy

The following article is taken from the Brand Guide to creating the winning recipe with Social video

One of the big buzzwords of the last decade has been "Mobile First" — apps like Instagram (quickly bought by Facebook for $1b) didn't even launch a website. 

In a Presentation last week at Social Media Week London Facebook explained why they have now moved beyond thinking about mobile first to concentrating on being "Video First". Which is not surprising given their 800% annual video growth rate, growing from 1 billion to 8 billion views from 2015 to 2016.

1. Mobile video is inherently different to video for TV

The twist is it's all about figuring out how to make video work on mobile, because it's different from the channels that came before it. (tv, desktop pc)

For instance, Facebook has worked out that on average in the mobile newsfeed people spend an average of 1.7 seconds scanning each article as opposed to 2.5 per post on desktop so thinking in a traditional 30 second television commercial mindset simply won't now cut it in today’s social mobile marketing landscape so brands need to think differently when it comes to using video as part of their content strategy.

 The challenge for marketers is how to turn this highly defensive, mobile obsessed consumer and make them take note of your brand, lean forward and push them to action by swiping on your brand notification or pressing play on the latest clip.

 2. We now live in a Video First world that demands new rules


Video is the Trojan horse that can make consumers sit up and form a positive opinion about your business. Especially if you can adapt to new Video First rules. Facebook summarised how to adapt by advocating a series of news feed proofing concepts for your mobile video content.

Capture attention quickly

Brands now need to be 'super short' to capture attention. Facebook research has shown that 65% of people on Facebook watch videos to 3 seconds will watch to 10 seconds and 45% of those people who watch to 10 seconds get to 30 seconds so it is vitally important to hook people in those first 3 seconds if you are to stand a chance of people watching your video past the first 10 seconds.  

Design for sound off

Whilst original TV ads are put together with a great idea, strategy and proposition when the sound isn’t on it’s really hard to understand what the main message is. As a, result any videos not designed for the sound off will suffer from a lack of comprehension or your intended audience will simply switch their attention elsewhere.

It is important to remember also that Consumers are using their phones/tablets/watches for a range of purposes, at once; Not surprising therefore that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without audio.

It is an idea not lost on modern media brands such as Vice, Buzzfeed who have quickly built large followings by understanding demand for video without always needing audio to communicate; Instead using stylised text overlays, annotations, cards, callouts, and animated gifs to capture consumer's attention while scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed at work, or on the train ride in.

Frame your Visual Story

TV screens & wide screens are typically in a 16:9 ration whereas a mobile phone is deep and long so there is a lot of pixels which not being used so what about we think to crop things when they are square or picking the right frame out of the story we are trying to tell.

Be more Playful

While humour is not an end in itself, marketers adopting a Video First strategy need to move beyond communicating pure product benefits to connecting with consumers at a core psychic level: So as to become a trusted 'friend' when the time comes to purchase.

For example, Buzzfeed hit the right note when they experimented earlier this year with Facebook Live with their watermelon stunt which had 85,000 people watching to see how many rubber bands it would take to explode.

3. Rethinking your Creative Approach for Video.   


Adopting Creative for the mobile feed uses a lot of the same tricks and techniques when re-purpose TV assets for online banners and same kind of thinking as well so what are some of the new creative techniques you can use in your video first approach to mobile video?  

Developed out of Facebook’s Visual messaging in the Newsfeed research from their Latin America team they have devised a series of new story arcs you might want to consider when you put your next mobile video together to capture your consumer's attention.


They came up with the idea to design a narrative thread that delivers loops of messages that move every 3–5 seconds hence the name Heartbeat. Que this clever McDonalds Brazil Drive Through Ad made up of a series of clever little story vignettes which keeps you entranced so you want to know what is coming next, as opposed to the traditional story with a beginning a middle and an end.

Zig & Zag

Building on the heartbeat theme where the game that is being played is to hook the viewer and getting them to move across to the next section of the video. So what this approach does is start with a hook at the beginning and then puts the product in front of you, and then it does it again and again hence the terms Zig & Zag. This Pepsi emoji campaign example starts off with a little gag then shows you the product & repeats it again. 

These types of videos are very different to a TV Ads but it is, formats like these that are working really well at the moment. Likewise, this ad for Jessica Alba's Honest Beauty uses a POV frame with the product and a little vignette ‘to look like a boss’ which captures your attention and when two of these 15-second ads are put together over 30 seconds you have a very clever piece of video. 

Start with the end

Show them what the punchline is upfront and set it up and show them the product benefit.

Two great examples of this are:  

FMCG brand Tide with this short and attention grabbing video which sets out the problem upfront and the solution their product provides in an animated GIF style format to capture the viewer's attention in a light-hearted way. 

Likewise, another clever series of Ads developed by Home Sound System Sonos specifically for social also uses the same narrative set up showing us the problem upfront, and the solution all in a bite size 15-second format.  It's worth watching the all the ads to fully understand the strategy at work here.  

4. Video is blossoming in the funnel

Most importantly for brands, you can also use video to bring products to life and drive interaction at the lower end of the funnel with new ad units such as carousel which are designed specfically with this in mind. 

This example below from Target Style is synced so you can follow the woman as she walks across the screen. Very clever and interactive. If you haven't considered using Carousel ads before check out some of the great examples of how to use this ad unit here  


Likewise, Instagram new stories feature can also be used in sell goods and services as in this example (left) from J Crew who used the new format to launch promote and sell their new sunglasses using stop frame animation which is great for brands on a smaller budget. 

Furthermore, if you’re a small business and need to sell stuff you can use video in really simple ways like this Sales Ad for Privacy Pop's cool little bed tents and note the clever call to action in the bottom right corner.  

5. The future of video is more active

One of the things Facebook is noticing is the way we are looking at video, and the way we are interacting with it is changing to be a more participatory role. The premise being that by encouraging people to interact with video they will get the full benefits. 

One of the ways this is starting to happen already is with 360 video and Virtual Reality and this example from the 2016 Facebook Awards shows how visitors to a Salvador Dali exhibition get to experience it in a whole new way that was never possible until now.

Likewise, Facebook Live is prompting people to interact with video in a much more real-time way and is getting really good results and engagement.

One really good example of this along with Buzzfeed's exploding watermelon stunt (above) was the launch of Mr Robot Season 2 who premiered the new season by undertaking a 14 countrywide launch on Facebook Live by delivering a personalized broadcast which the scriptwriters wrote specifically for each country.  

Likewise, another Facebook unit Canvas that acts like a mini- website promotes interaction so you need to engage with it to get the full benefit as was the case with this fun and quirky Ad from Pizza Brand Little Caesars (left) that is well worth checking spending the time to watch. 

The Wrap  

Moving your content strategy to a Video First perspective can be a coming home for brands that have been adept at mainstream television advertising. However, an approach of dumping traditional video content onto a company's social outlets will end in disgruntled consumers and bad campaign performance metrics. The first step is in understanding that video on mobile is different.

Recognising that, you can leapfrog the competition and grab your target audience's attention by adapting to new social video techniques and formats,

Rather than providing a one-way passive video blast, providing your target audiences with a lean forward experience which is active and engaging with playful video formats that are made for mobile and social newsfeed, where your chances of campaign success are far higher.

This article was taken from The brand's guide to creating the winning recipe with social vide



If you are interested in working with a hands-on mobile social video first agency: Contact us about making the most of your next campaign or video project at david@evolvesocial.com.au