Videos reign King on social media. But it's not what you think.

Just because you see companies posting videos on their social media doesn’t mean that they are killing it at their social media. And, if you are one of those companies posting videos on your social media, please read this before you continue posting.

What began as a trend on Facebook a couple years ago is now reigning supreme on all social media platforms: Twitter, Instagram, even LinkedIn. Videos are the #1 way to get content to your followers. It’s what people prefer to engage with, and it’s what most algorithms prioritize. But there are two things to keep in mind:

  1. Not all types of video get traction.

  2. Length of the video content matters even more than before.

The first item to keep in mind is that Facebook (whether we want it to or not) sets the trend for how videos perform not only on its own platform, but for all platforms it owns (and, consequently, for the sites it sees as its competitors). What does this mean? Don’t think that you can find a handy information video on YouTube, post it to your Facebook page and call it good - at least not if you want people to actually see it.

YouTube is Facebook’s competitor and thus Facebook does not give priority to YouTube videos. So, any of those videos that we do see that go viral in our news feeds REALLY are an exception. It’s not as easy as we thought to get traction and increase reach and engagement. Facebook wants you to do 2 things: 1) Create original content on its site to share (hence the Facebook stories function that is only slowly seeing an increase) and 2) Use static graphics to create a video (this function is available on business pages).

The second thing to keep in mind is that the length of your audience’s attention span is contuning to decrease (shocker). Recently, on a social media marketing podcast, thought leader Mari Smith listed the top time brackets to keep in mind:

  • 15 seconds: Intro to a longer blog post or longer video on your website

  • 3-5 minutes: Ironically, this is the attention span for a Live video so make sure it’s an interesting 3-5 minutes.

  • 24+ minutes: This works for a longer, subscribed broadcast, especially for podcasts.

If you fall outside any of these time brackets, your are not going to reach your audience. The hard truth: no one wants to hear you re-read an article or blog in a long video. Give your audience a hook and then send them to the full ink on your website, or elsewhere. If you are tasked with doing Facebook Live or Live Tweeting for an event, be careful about the content you post. Statistics show that the majority of audiences do not stay with a Live Video for more than 3-5 minutes, and if they see a video posted later to your profile, they are not going to re-watch it if it’s beyond this time limit. Finally, only longer videos actually work when you have a super-niched audience who knows what they’re in for. This would include followers of your podcast, or someone who signs up for a workshop or event but can’t make it there in person. They are expecting the video to be longer, and have likely subscribed - or paid - for the right to see that video. They are invested, unlike your other audiences who are just passing by.

In summary: I’m telling you what you already know (although may not want to accept just yet). Social media platforms play to the numbers - not to your individual bias. If you are posting a 10 minute video because you think it’s interesting (or you have a core group of 10 followers who also find it interesting), algorithms are going to push it to the bottom of people’s feeds. Furthermore, if you are not providing the type of content these platforms want to see (static images in a video, non-YouTube links on Facebook, etc.), you are also decreasing your reach.

If you are comfortable staying within your small network of the same 10 loyal, engaged followers, then no big deal. But if you want to increase your reach and audience, you should rethink your strategy.

Cassandra D'Alessio