When really examining why most people use social media, the reason quickly reveals itself: we want to learn AND feel. For most social users, this educational and emotional quest often revolves around friends, family, the world…but it also includes brands. So, in today’s scrolling environment, what things should brands keep in mind when creating videos for social media?
Make Your Content Consistent & Easy to Follow
We all know that grabbing attention is important, but branding is essential in order to receive full credit for the engaging content. To ensure your brand receives this credit, brands should prioritize consistency of content. Consistency of style, story, brand slates and music within a single execution (or across multiple executions, within a campaign) helps strengthen a brand’s identity. This ‘persistent consistency’ of visuals and messaging makes it easier for viewers to tie the content to the brand.
Conversely, when an ad leaves the viewer to make this connection on their own, cognitive strain can occur. For example, the characters in an ad might be well-liked and do well to generate strong positive emotion. But what if that same spot has poor audio/visual sync? Viewers will have to work that much harder to understand how what they are seeing on screen fits with what they are hearing or reading. In an environment where sound is not always used, this extra work will likely produce elevated levels of confusion and distraction.
Brass Tacks: Viewers on social media are lazy. Don’t make them work too hard!
A Balancing Act Between Execution & Content
In social media video ads, the first few seconds are important to keep viewers engaged. As a result, many executions focus on delivering an immediate ‘wow’ moment to grab our attention. But what about, you know, the stuff after that? Making sure that your ad has strong content following the hook is just as important. Just because you’ve got someone’s attention does not guarantee ultimate brand impact.
The key is to find the appropriate balance between grabbing viewers’ attention and making the content that follows interesting. The more interested the viewer, the more enticed they will be to want to get to know the brand.
Brass Tacks: For social videos, strong content without strong branding is merely entertainment.
Social Video Ads Don’t Have to Be ‘Flashy’ to Generate Strong Emotion & Motivation
Today, there are many things to distract us from focusing on one particular thing, let alone an ad. Because of this, there is a general misconception that social video spots need to be ‘flashy’ or ‘outlandish’ in order to grab your attention. More straightforward, rational information won’t be able to capture and maintain attention. This is simply not the case. Rational and relevant information can be interesting enough to keep people engaged with your content. Moreover, when social video ads generate an emotional connection with the audience and share rational information, the audience is much more likely to act.
A great example of an ad striking this balance is U.S. Bank’s :60 social video, “Financial Advice for New Couples.” It effectively speaks to consumers on both a rational AND emotional level. The ad encourages viewers to create an open dialogue with their partner about finances. Though the ad isn’t necessarily flashy, viewers relate to and believe the information presented and find it important. As a result, viewers exit the video feeling much more positively about U.S. Bank, leading to strong motivation.
Brass Tacks: The best social content speaks to the head (rational) AND the heart (emotional).
Compelling Storytelling (Not Ad Length) Determines How Long Viewers Will Watch Social Videos
Compelling storytelling is king when it comes to getting viewers to spend time with you. Content that rewards viewers by way of entertainment and/or delivery of relevant and new information warrants more time in viewers’ minds.
Take a look at the Bombas social video. Despite its 3-minute length – a LONG time for someone to engage with an ad on social media – the spot maintains viewer attention, has a clear role for the brand, presents relevant and new information, generates strong positive emotion and goodwill for the brand and, ultimately, motivates the audience to take action. Compelling storytelling at its finest.
Brass Tacks: There is no rule on how long your social video should be. Prioritize the quality of the story over the length/duration of your ad. As a result, your audience will want to spend more time with you.
People use social media to LEARN & FEEL. Take advantage of that and remember:
- Keep your content consistent – within or across a campaign.
- Don’t make viewers work too hard to tie what is being said and shown – remember some may have their sound off.
- Strong content without strong branding is merely entertainment. Grab their attention early but maintain it with relevant information
- Rational information can work just as hard as emotion. The best social content speaks to the head (rational) AND the heart (emotional).
- Shorter doesn’t always mean better. Prioritize the quality of the story over the length/duration of your ad.
Richard Bilbee is a Research Director and Pun Master at Ameritest.
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