If you’re an avid Facebook user you’ve probably noticed a new feature – when people post videos that appear in your News Feed they begin playing on their own without you even clicking on anything. This is a big advancement in the Facebook and online video world: The social network recently announced that videos that are uploaded directly to Facebook, or are shared from Instagram, are running in autoplay mode.
The autoplay function works the same way on the Facebook mobile app – videos start playing automatically, albeit muted until you actually click on them, as you scroll down the page. Once you pass the video it stops. After users watch an autoplay video, they can choose to watch more videos from the same merchant.
I think that the autoplay feature is a boon to marketers who are trying to attract more eyeballs and generate more sharing on Facebook. It’s a relatively low-key way of delivering video about products or brands without causing users to be annoyed by an “intrusive” video popping up unexpectedly (and noisily) on a webpage they’re reading.
Facebook made an intelligent move by muting the videos until users decide to click on them. Online users usually aren’t happy with videos that start playing – with sound – when they haven’t opted-in to viewing. It’s an intrusion on their browsing experience and it doesn’t make them think kindly of the brands that are pushing the video. From my perspective, because autoplay videos don’t interfere with the Facebook experience users are more likely to respond to branded videos more positively.
Online marketers may need to tweak the way they present videos, being that Facebook has changed the rules. For example, videos without sound will need more attention-getting visuals to compel users to click on them and get the full experience. A good tip is to watch your videos with the sound off, the way a Facebook user would see them. Would they be worth a click or is it difficult to figure out what the video is about with no sound? If your videos don’t tell a story visually, then they’ll need to be reworked for the “silent” Facebook environment.
One way to build visual interest into your videos is to add text, which can support the visuals. For example, add in a banner or scrolling text that highlights a promotion, such as a discount. Think about saying that the deal is a Facebook exclusive, as an added incentive to click and watch.
Facebook’s autoplay videos may become a very valuable part of your online marketing efforts, especially for younger customers: Facebook says that it can reach more people 18 to 24 years old than primetime TV can – not to mention those 870 million users who look at their news feeds. For both increasing viewership of video and boosting social sharing, Facebook autoplay video is a good feature to have in your marketing toolkit.
Dr. Melody King is vice president of marketing at Treepodia.