Facebook Watch Time: 15 Ways to Increase Views and Engagement

Facebook Watch Time: 15 Ways to Increase Views and Engagement

Take a look at our actionable takeaways below: 15 Ways to Increase Facebook Video Watch Time Here are 15 different ways you can encourage your viewers to share clips with their friends and family and therefore increase the average watch time on your video content: 1. This word-based strategy ensures users who’ve turned off auto-play sound will still understand what your video is about without having to hear a single peep; in fact, Facebook also discovered in February of last year that captioned video ads increased watch time compared to non-captioned ads by 12%. It will take some experimenting to figure out what works best for your brand’s Facebook videos, but Buffer believes shorter copy drives more click-throughs while longer copy generates higher engagement rates. Post at the Right Time Uploading a video to Facebook at a time when it’s most likely to receive views and shares is a simple way to improve your overall watch time. Additionally, you’ll stand a chance of increasing your overall watch time because, thanks to the beauty of Facebook’s video player features, users on your website can watch your embedded Facebook video and share it with friends and family without ever having to leave your site. This new tip, however, isn’t always at the forefront of brands’ minds when it comes to getting more engagement and shares on their Facebook videos, and that is making sure to tag other people and brands in their uploaded video content. The reasoning behind tagging is simple: if you get the attention of other people or brands, they’re more likely to share the clip with their audiences and therefore generate higher watch times. Create Playlists Facebook saves all of your brand’s uploaded videos under your “Videos” tab for users to access. Promote specific clips with ads. Again, every brand’s audience is different, so make sure you pay attention to what kinds of CTAs and requests actually generate a reaction from your viewers and lead you to those higher engagements, shares, and watch times you’re looking for.

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For a huge number of media publishers and brands uploading video content to Facebook, increasing the Watch Time of those videos has become one of the most important metrics to track. Fortunately, Facebook seems to have figured out what gets more eyeballs on your video content and has confirmed that 48% of watch time on Facebook videos comes directly from shares. That’s right – encouraging your Facebook followers to share your clips with their own followers is going to have a very positive knock-on effect for you.

Of course, there are a number of factors that brands and publishers need to take into consideration when it comes to engaging their target audience on Facebook (decent video production values, access to stellar audience insights, partnering with other influential Facebook properties to increase reach, creating innovative and appealing content etc.). But there is still a great deal that can be done to improve engagement on your videos which will boost your Watch Time ROI. Take a look at our actionable takeaways below:

15 Ways to Increase Facebook Video Watch Time

Here are 15 different ways you can encourage your viewers to share clips with their friends and family and therefore increase the average watch time on your video content:

1. Upload Your Videos Natively

While it seems intuitive, posting a video to Facebook via the site’s native uploader (instead of, for example, posting a link to a YouTube or Vimeo video) will encourage more engagement and organic shares. In fact, a 2017 study discovered Facebook videos on average receive a 477% higher share rate than the YouTube format. Additionally, native Facebook videos attract roughly 530% more comments than linked YouTube videos.

Some brands might feel that in order to save their content and social teams time, they can create one video and simply cross-post it on various social video platforms. Unfortunately, as the stat above proves, Facebook users are far less inclined to share a non-native Facebook video, which is counter-productive to your goal of getting more shares to increase your overall watch time. Essentially, cross-posting might save you time for the short term, but in exchange you’re giving up a lot of valuable engagements and shares in the long run.

2. Make Square or Vertical Videos

Even though we just looked at the importance of uploading natively to Facebook, you should actually take a cue from Instagram when it comes to the shape of your video content. Why? Facebook videos which are square, like they are on the site’s separate photo-sharing app, tend to get more shares, views, engagement, and reach (particularly on mobile), according to a Buffer study. In particular, Buffer found square videos take up about 78% more real estate space on a Facebook user’s phone than a landscape format, meaning these users are more likely to watch, share, and engage with the clips.

In addition to square videos, your brand can consider making vertical videos. Since early 2017, Facebook has been serving users larger vertical video previews in their feeds, as the site said it’s focused on improving the video viewing experience. This update implies more users are spending time watching vertical videos, so it may be worth it for your brand to experiment to see if this format increases your shares and engagements.

48% of Facebook Video Watch Time Is from Shares: 15 Ways to Take Advantage by Bree Brouwer

3. Create Shareable Videos

We noted in the introduction to this article how your first rule of business when creating videos for Facebook should be to create quality content. But if you combine this strategy with a compelling story or message, you’re sure to get more of a reaction from your viewers. For instance, your brand could support a cause or start a conversation around something your audience is passionate about. You could also focus on posting inspirational or funny human interest pieces related to your brand, as these types of videos continually attract millions of views per month (according to our monthly Facebook leaderboard results, at least).

We’re not the only ones who’ve noticed how well shareable content generates shares and engagement on Facebook. Content analytics company Buzzsumo looked at over 100 million videos on the social site and discovered videos with a humorous or uplifting tone tended to perform the best in terms of views, engagements, and shares. Another style of video to consider, according to Buzzsumo’s research, is hacks, tips, and how-to clips. Try out these types of videos to see which get the most reaction from your audience.

4. Optimize Introductions and Thumbnails

It’s no secret Facebook considers three seconds into a user watching a video as a view. So if you want to increase your watch time via engagement and shares, you have to give your audience a reason to keep watching past those first three seconds. It’s essential to jump right into the start of your videos with compelling images, camera angles, colors, and dialogue or text which address the heart of the message you’re trying to tell so your viewers are curious about the beginning. It’s especially important to pay attention to creating a great video even if a user’s individual sound setting is turned off for videos, despite Facebook’s default setting of auto-playing sound.

On a related note, you should also make sure your thumbnails for each of your videos pique the interest of your viewers. Optimizing your video content won’t matter if the first image they see before the video plays seems unrelated or — even worse — boring. Making a custom thumbnail for each of your brand’s videos will not only help ensure they capture the attention of users as they scroll through their feeds, but will also give you that much more possibility of those same users sharing your video with friends and family.

48% of Facebook Video Watch Time Is from Shares: 15 Ways to Take Advantage by Bree Brouwer

5. Add Overlay Text and/or Captions

Speaking of optimizing for the first three seconds, it’s vital you don’t ignore the power of words even within a visual format like a Facebook video. Why? Before Facebook made auto-play sound the default in February of this year, 85% of Facebook videos were watched without sound. This stat likely hasn’t changed much, either, considering (ironically) Facebook discovered in February of 2016 that 80% of users reacted negatively to auto-play sound in video advertisements specifically.

As such, consider adding overlay text or captions to your videos to see how your audience responds. This word-based strategy ensures users who’ve turned off auto-play sound will still understand what your video is about without having to hear a single peep; in fact, Facebook also discovered in February of last year that captioned video ads increased watch time compared to non-captioned ads by 12%. Essentially, by not annoying your followers, you stand a better chance of them enjoying and sharing the clip. It’s also just polite to include text or captions for hard of hearing Facebook users, and by acknowledging their needs, you’re more likely to see increased watch time from them, as well.

6. Optimize Your Copy

We can’t talk about adding overlay text or captions to your videos without also mentioning the surrounding copy of your videos. Facebook allows page owners to customize a video with text in a few different spots. First is the title, which should be descriptive and searchable while also compelling users to click on it. Second…

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