Producing social video ads at scale? Here are five solid tactics to keep your viewers engaged with your video ads. Use these elements in your edits.

You’ve spent money on video production or animation and you’re set to spend more money on social media advertising. So, the last thing you want is for the video not to be engaging and for your audience or potential new customers to skip the video that could potentially lead through to your product.

Unfortunately, there’s no secret formula for what makes a successful video. You could have a thirty-second spot with a budget in the millions, only to be bested in views and audience reach by a spot filmed on an iPhone that happens to have a funny dog in the background.

However, while there isn’t a secret formula to what makes a successful video, there are several tips that can keep your viewers engaged with your social ads.

Keeping Viewers Engaged
Build a strategy around these well-established insights. Image by liravega.

As someone who enjoys creating narrative content, if I were to open a video advertisement with a slow fade from black, with sweeping orchestral music slowly building up, I would likely lose 95% of my targeted ad audience. The internet is abundant with video content. So, when someone is being shown something through advertising as opposed to searching for video content, you have less than five seconds to reel them in before they scroll past or, in the case of YouTube, request to skip the advertisement.

This could be because the modern attention span is extremely short, or because YouTube’s five-second ad skip feature has made it the norm. Regardless, it’s important to grab the viewer’s engagement right off the bat.


1. Make The Purpose Of Your Ad Apparent Straight Away.

You’re not going to engage everyone, even when your video is targeted towards the right demographic. As a Fuji user, I have no real interest in watching a Nikon video ad, despite my social stats pointing out I follow camera-specific pages.

However, if a skippable video notes within the first five seconds that a new camera is set to be released, and can do a new and exciting feature, even as a user of the competing company it could be compelling enough to keep me watching to see the new product. Additionally, even if I decide to skip the ad once I’m able to do so, I still get the ad’s core message.

Some companies have taken to advertising their product solely within those five seconds. While somewhat more playful and unique to larger brands, you can’t skip an ad after five seconds if it’s over by then, right?


2. Ask A Question

If the ad is targeted towards your already-established demographic, you may not have trouble in the video reaching the right people. But, there still could be that issue of keeping them drawn in for the entire ad. An excellent method for keeping the viewer engaged through the initial five seconds is to ask a question or pounce in with a statement.

Business leader and social media guru Gary Varnercheck is the master of this. Even if you haven’t heard of him, you’ve more than likely seen his videos recommended to you in your social feed. At the start of each video, Vaynerchuk does something smart, and you may not even realize he’s doing it if you have already been following him for a while.

He gives a five-second soundbite from the middle of the video, usually a question, and then starts the video from the beginning. Before you can even think about moving to the next video, you want to know the answer or resolution to his comment. Employ this technique with your video ad and watch your engagement rise.


3. Video Orientation

The way your video is orientated will directly affect how many people engage with it. Need to put a call to action to tell your viewers to rotate their phones? Yeah, you’ve just lost a lot of money. While most social media platforms offer various resolutions for you to upload video content, specific resolutions work better for engagement, and they are primarily vertical resolutions. I’ve previous written a full rundown on vertical video, but this snippet is relevant to video engagement.

Most importantly, it’s the way we consume content. Forbes reported that a study found that almost 94% of us hold our phones vertically. The studies also suggest that if we come across a video that requires us to change our phone’s orientation, instead of doing so, we’re 2.5 times more than likely to skip it. Although it’s just a flick of the wrist, it’s an inconvenience (this doesn’t account for when we actively seek out horizontal content.)

Therefore if you want your engagement to be higher, conform to the platform you are publishing on. For a full list of video specifications, check out The Guide to DIY Facebook and Instagram Ads.

Vertical Video Orientation
Make sure that viewing your videos is a frictionless experience. Image by Naumova Marina.

4. Have Your Video Work With or Without Sound

I don’t know about you, but I find there’s nothing more intrusive than scrolling through your social feed and having videos automatically play. This is especially jarring if your volume is turned up, and you come across a loud video. As such, I always make sure the volume is turned off within the app settings, and I have to turn on the sound myself. It turns out that I’m not alone with that. 85% of Facebook users watch videos with the sound off. Therefore to keep your video engaging, the product or service should be identifiable without sound.

Watching Video with the Volume Off
Many viewers watch social video with no sound. Keep your message accessible to your audience. Image by GoodStudio.

There are a few ways in which you can do this. The most obvious is with closed captions. But, the more energetic and engaging method would be to have animated typography and imagery that display the product on offer. Take the following video from PremiumBeat for their 2019 Free Week offering.

There is no voiceover or presentation, but in this particular example there doesn’t need to be. From watching the promo without sound, you can still understand that there are fifty-one free motion graphics for download including animated circles, squares, line pops, plus many more.

Even if your video has the information presented through a host, incorporate your ad’s core features into animated text to ensure the engagement strong throughout for those watching without sound.


5. Interactivity

A more recent addition to the world of video ads is allowing your audience to be an active participant with the ad, rather than a passive viewer. Both Facebook and Instagram have elements that enable users to participate in a poll when ads are published through the story feature.

Getting Interactive
Interactive features will keep your audience checking in. Image via Instagram Business

Instagram states:

Interactive ads in Instagram Stories, starting with the polling sticker, allow businesses to be more engaging and playful to build better connections. Not only do they help stories ads stand out, but they can generate more impact on your campaigns by encouraging people to watch longer. In nine out of ten beta campaigns, the polling sticker increased three-second video views.

Of course, if you opt for this route you need to follow the resolution guidelines for Instagram stories.


Bonus: Professional Presentation

Even when you elaborate on all the tips suggested above, your video’s overall presentation is critical in keeping your audience engaged. Thankfully, we have a wide variety of tips and tutorials in making sure your production is as professional as they come.

However, sometimes, you may need a specific video clip that is simply unobtainable. Perhaps because of the weather or season, or maybe the location is out of budget for the travel expense. Thankfully, this is where you can browse the entirety of the Shutterstock video library. Whether your ad needs a clip of astronauts exploring an alien planet or a dog looking playfully into the camera, there’s a clip for everything.


Summary

That was a lot of information, let’s summarize. Content is plentiful, and everyone is trying to grab the attention of your audience. To stay first in the race and keep your audience engaged, you want to follow these steps:

  • The purpose of the ad should be apparent within the first five seconds.
  • If your ad needs more time to display its purpose, open with a question or statement.
  • Optimize the video resolution for the platform you are publishing on—preferably as vertical video to maximize engagement.
  • Make sure that viewers can understand the ad without sound.
  • If publishing on Facebook or Instagram, get interactive.

Cover image via TarikVision.

For more on using video on social media, check out the articles below.