Come Back Charlie Chaplin!! - A Guide To Making Great Videos for Facebook

19/08/2016 10:26 | Updated 19 August 2016

It's been projected that 80% of all internet traffic will be video based by 2019 [1]. The vast increases in mobile video consumption alongside Facebook's explosive growth to 8+ billion video views a day [2] indicate we're definitely on track. That said, are the videos we're consuming providing us with the best user experience? The social media giant recently revealing that 85% of video being viewed silently [3] suggests a need to reassess we produce online videos to engage audiences. So what exactly do content creators need to do to ensure they get their message across on Facebook?

Length Isn't Everything

How people consume content differs greatly depending on the environment and platform on which it's consumed. At the cinema people are happy to watch films and the 1 minute long ads that precede them, however checking their phone on average up to 85 times a day [4] means they're only interacting with their device for small snippets per session.

Mobile ownership and usage is now ahead of desktop* in the UK. The content that we're being exposed to however isn't reflecting this "snacking" behaviour in video length. Whilst advertisers are investing more than ever in mobile[5] online they're still exposing users to long, landscape ads that take ages to get to the point, then wondering why people aren't remembering them. Nielsen found that for advertisers, 47% of the value in a video campaign was delivered in the first three seconds, and up to 74% was delivered in the first ten [6]. As such the first piece of advice is that if you're to make digital video content, reflect consumer behaviour and make it short, and record it vertically. Make it for mobile first. Take a look at the rapid growth of Vine, Instagram, and in particular Snapchat for examples of how short video can work well for you.

To Read or Not to Read?

Whilst it's been revealed that the majority of Facebook videos are viewed silently [7], most are unfortunately made to be consumed with sound. Advertisers are particularly guilty of taking TV ads with descriptive or emotional voice-overs and merely placing them on Facebook. With a recent study showing that 41% of video ads that ran were "basically meaningless" without sound [8] we can see the importance of ensuring your content isn't audio reliant.

Now this article isn't trying to get you to cut up all your video content into just teeny Charlie Chaplin blipverts, as a great piece of work can stand on its own. However the vast majority could do with a bit of help. So what's the solution I hear you ask? Well fortunately it's quite simple.........Subtitles.

It can be accurately argued that if someone is reading instead of "fully" watching then your message isn't truly landing, however with subtitles at least your message is being seen and understood by your audience. Captioned video may be a trend you've started to see crop up more and more on your feed. Take a look at success stories such as Proper Tasty. A UK based social proposition of providing simple delicious food inspiration. With only subtitles (no voice commentary) on all of their short form recipe videos they have managed to grow their Facebook page to over 12m 'Likes' since its launch in December 2015.

Now at just the click of a button Facebook now offer advertisers 2 lines of automated captions for free [9]. However as you might have noted, having smartly made videos that work without sound, his wouldn't have yielded any captions for Proper Tasty. As such it's suggested that you follow in their footsteps and have bespoke subtitles for your videos. Voice-overs are most powerful when heard, and may lose their power (or indeed be difficult to read or understand) when merely transcribed and read. Now you don't want something too drastically different so as to alter the essence of the communication, but mitigate the amount of effort required from your viewer to take out the message your trying to convey.

Final Thought

People are becoming more mobile centric. An increasing trend of more mobile interactions per day for less time a session, has natural implications on content producers. To get people engaging with your content you need to stop making long wide-screen, audio heavy ads, as they simply aren't watched or cared about. Instead try to make something you could watch on a short bus-trip. Quite simply; make it short, get to the point, be visual, be vertical, and if you need to have subtitles don't be lazy and please write them yourself.

By Owen Lee

N.B. Views are my own and do not reflect those of my employer

[1] Cisco Study, downloadable at, reported by Tubular Insights at
[2] From 4 billion daily video views in April 2015 to 8 billion daily video views reported by Tech Crunch in Nov 2015 at
[3] Reported by Digiday on 17th May at
[4] Reported on by the Mirror on 29th Oct 2015, viewable at
[5] With mobile video adspend growing 85% in 2 years to $10.2 bn. Study by the IAB, downloadable at
[6] Study reported and commented on by Facebook on 17th March 2015, viewable at
[7] Op Cit. 3.
[8] Study reported and commented on by Facebook on 17th March 2015, viewable at
[9] Reported and commented on by on 10th Feb 2016, viewable at