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If you’ve been on a personal Instagram feed lately, you might have noticed some significant differences from a year, or even a couple of months ago. The image-centric social media hub has shifted to utilizing increasingly more videos. In fact, there’s strong evidence that the platform gives preferential treatment to videos in all user feeds.

Back in 2016, Mark Zuckerberg predicted that Facebook would be mostly video by 2021. This was four years after purchasing Instagram for $1-billion and then seeing the platform dip as Snapchat took the lead. And of course, all of this was long before Tik Tok launched in the US, rapidly becoming the most downloaded app for nearly 2 years.

The common denominator is video. Snapchat, within a year of launching, created video “Stories,” prompting Insta to try and follow suit and catch up. That eventually slid over to the mother app. Now Tik Tok has forced another seismic shift at Facebook, bringing “Reels” to life on Instagram.

In the midst of millions of businesses shuttering, or at least shifting to work from home, there have been three sectors of the economy that have consistently grown:

  • Video Conferencing (Zoom, Discord, Google misc.)
  • Streaming Services (Netflix, Amazon, HULU, all the +’s)
  • Social Media (Tik Tok, Facebook, Twitter)

Once again, the common denominator – video.

If you’re asking – and you should be – how does this affect business accounts and ads on Facebook, you’re in the right mindset.

The Good News

1. Video Ads are More Cost Effective

Video costs average around 10% of the cost of carousel or single image ads. While the holy grail of Facebook ads might be out of reach these days, you can run ten times as many video ads as image ads. That alone seems like a really good deal – but it gets even better…

2. Video is More Engaging

Users spend FIVE times more time on a Facebook post or Ad that contains a video than a static post. Twitter estimates about the same. And TL:DR is real – images on all platforms are still 2-3 times more engaging than text.

And yes, animated GIF’s count! While they aren’t as engaging as a video, anything more than a static image is generating more engagement. And that includes EMOJI’s. Whether you like or understand them or not, they are becoming increasingly more popular in posts and ads, regardless of a target customer’s age. And if you’re aiming for millennials or younger, you kinda need them. ☺

3. Much Higher ROI & Conversions

In a study done last year, businesses who experimented with video ads saw nearly 70% more conversions than for static images or text.

People like viewing products and services from the point of view of the customer. Videos that feel like POV of the user; whether the buying process, the experience of using the product – or best of all, the emotion gained by using the product – outperform anything else.

Nothing provides social proof more than actual social proof. BUT, staged videos shot as representative of the customer experience rank almost as highly in ROI and conversions.

4. Don’t Require High Production Value

Facebook allows you to post videos that are studio-shot or mobile-shot. Studio is obvious – these are the commercials we’re used to, with high production values. Mobile-shot can still be well done and tell a good story, but… they resemble organic Stories content, similar to the effect of using a mobile phone camera, or ‘selfie-mode.’

According to Facebook, mobile-shot is:

  • 84% better at getting users to view content
  • 80% better at driving intent
  • 78% better at driving ad recall, and
  • 63% better at driving purchases, app installs and checkouts

Some companies are even shooting professionally, but simulating mobile-shot, just to get the benefits. But all you need is your camera and decent light.

In the past, I would have said great audio is a must too, but 85% of people watch videos with the sound off. Facebook even added an option to turn off sound automatically on EVERY video. Meanwhile, a recent study showed that 41% of videos on social media are meaningless without sound.

Instead of spending money on the camera and sound gear, spend time on the best visual story you can tell. It’s said that Hitchcock was such a great director because he started in silent films, as a story card artist. He strove, with every film he made, to make fewer and fewer cards. He passionately sought to make stories that worked, even if no one ever said a word, and often complained that dialogue repeated information already present on the screen.

Like Hitchcock, you want to try and create a video that captures attention and conveys purpose, even with the sound off. Add subtitles if you need to. And be liberal with your use of logos, products, and words splashed across the screen.

5. They Don’t Need to be Too Long

Embrace the minute or less. In keeping with the theme of user-generated content, don’t blast out a video that last 20-30 minutes, just because you can. Hey, if you can make something you can cross post on Insta, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Tik Tok, why wouldn’t you?

Sure the audiences are somewhat different, but you have to start somewhere. Having a short video will play better, be watched more, and can be cross-purposed. You can then tailor it more to the specific platform you want it to be on. Plus, shorter videos are cheaper to make and as a result allow considerable experimentation. You’re not spending a million dollars making a single ad for the Super Bowl that may or may not connect with people. You’re making dozens, maybe hundreds of short ads. It’s not a huge deal if a few of them underperform.

And several social media experts have pointed to Reel-type ads in Instagram as the next big trend in paid social media marketing for 2021.

6. More Formats Available

At the time I’m writing this, Facebook has 16 ad types:

  • image ads
  • video ads
  • page likes ads
  • branded content ads
  • lead generation ads
  • carousel ads
  • post engagement ads
  • slideshow ads
  • dynamic ads
  • messenger ads
  • stories ads
  • collection ads
  • playable ads
  • augmented reality ads
  • instant experience ads (previously called Canvas)
  • app installs
  • search ads

You can also add polls to video ads and use ads to launch conversations in Messenger.

The Bad News

7. COVID-19 Restrictions are Still in Place

This may not affect you or a majority of small businesses, but everyone should review the latest Facebook guidelines to make sure you’re not offering a product or service that is prohibited in these trying times.

8. Costs are Liable to Fluctuate – a Lot

In all areas, of Facebook at least, cost of pay-per-click ads is down, and has been down since March of 2020. That means all of the ad formats are currently cheaper, not just video. But as it takes longer to reach some sense of normality with the global pandemic, the prices will almost surely rise.

Amazon has done stellar business because they were already in place to take advantage of the online buying experience and delivery, well, trend. Trend isn’t quite the right word, but hopefully you get what I mean. As we sit longer and shift to more delivery and pick up, as well as more digital versus traditional advertising, the rates are bound to go up.

9. Reduced Targeting Options

As our society becomes more stratified, Facebook has had to adapt. Not just in political scenarios, but rejiggering how we think and speak, and how things are addressed. They have also dealt with numerous privacy concerns, both in house and forced to be addressed by government and lawsuits.

As a result, the extreme narrowness of Facebook ad targeting has lessened considerably. There’s little chance these days of one roommate punking another with ads, as happened back in 2014. And that’s probably a good thing. Free speech is fine, but Facebook has a responsibility, both to users and their shareholders.

So several categories of targeting have been eliminated from the Facebook ad options for all the reasons mentioned above, as well as eliminating duplicate and redundant targeting options. All added up, Facebook has eliminated between 7-10,000 different targeting options. Which sounds like a lot – most people probably aren’t even aware there were that many options, let alone that many have been eliminated.

Which makes their assertion that there are more than enough targeting options to reach nearly every type of audience seem reasonable.

10.Tighter User Experience Parameters

Blame this one on the scammers. Far too many Facebook ads played fast and loose with the truth in previous years, and it reached epic proportions during the pandemic. You may remember, it got so bad, their AI was preventing posts and ads from struggling businesses because they tried to yank the reins too hard.

So Facebook implemented a Customer Feedback Score system for advertisers.

And while it feels like they’re spanking everyone for some criminals actions, there are a few easy tips to keep your score above the 1-2 that will get you booted.

  1. Be transparent. Make it extremely clear what users can expect from your products. Yes, that includes images, colors, materials, and sizes. Don’t use stock images or descriptions pulled from other sites unless your item is exactly the same, including the brand name.
  2. Make shipping expectations clear. Highlight expected shipping times at several points of checkout on your website. And always provide a tracking number.
  3. Make your return policy extremely clear. Spell out every detail, including potential return shipping costs, possibility of refund or replacement, and timeframes permitted.

11. Strategy is as Important as Ever

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you might think I harp on this too much. But, truly, the one thing that sets successful small business marketing apart from being unsuccessful is the approach. The major companies all use strategies – sometimes even apparently conflicting ones.

Did you know that Coke and Diet Coke are marketed completely differently? They even employ different strategists and different advertising agencies because they have two different audiences, two different types of targeted ideal consumers.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by not having a strategic business plan in place – for your business and for your marketing. If you need help developing one – I know a guy… Please reach out and we’ll be happy to sit down with you over Zoom and work out a way to get started. We won’t even charge you for the first 20 minutes.

We’ve built our business by teaching and helping entrepreneurs build their business. We’d love to help you too. Let’s Grow The Dream together!