Whether you are creating a video or a trailer or just even a teaser clip from a short film or even a feature film, there is the potential to use Facebook for your clip. I’ve spent years, like you learning everything there is about video and film that I can will myself to dive into. Now, you and I – we – absolutely love this stuff, but it doesn’t make a world of difference unless we understand a little bit about the financing, marketing, and with it, the distribution that round out the FILM BUSINESS. I think the three of them kind of form a triangle (tripod?) of sorts. You get what I’m saying.
Bonus: Stick around after the show for bonus material on setting up and running your Facebook reach ads!
First, the WHY. Here’s a video that explains the WHY. Then, we’ll get into the trends.
Trend # 1
The first trend I’ve noticed is that your seconds matter. You’ve got about 13 seconds before you lose 2/3 of your audience. It is an exponential (or is it?) drop-off.
At about the one-minute mark, you might be lucky to still have up to 20% of your audience left. I see less than 10% consistently.
Granted, it’s a fool’s errand to say my video will appeal to everyone! That’s just not true. Jesus’ message of an upside-down kingdom where we are to love our enemies did not resonate with everyone. In fact, He had a very small following and by modern standards, would have a laughable church size if he was pastoring a mega church or what have you. The fact of the matter is you’re going to get, like the Pareto Principle says, 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. It’s no different here. Your core audience will stick with you through the video, but the majority of people will fall by the wayside after 13 seconds. There are just too many other shiny bells on the internet to stick around, and Facebook is such a stop-and-go entity for moving pictures.
If you want to nerd out with me for a second, you’ll have to recall I was a math teacher before I was ever Jake the film guy. We often exaggerate “exponential growth” and even sometimes probably mistakenly attribute something with rapid growth as exponential growth. The reality is an inverse function has more accelerated growth than an exponential curve does, and while I’m not about to bust out some kind of weird curve-fitting analysis super majiggy a bobber thingy, I suspect that this kind of drop-off in viewership – as precipitous as it is – might even be more pronounced than exponential.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to drill down a point here, one that I shout from the rooftops to my co-workers and now you, my viewers and readers: you have to keep your videos short on Facebook. Longer videos can be put on YouTube because they are the second biggest search engine. A livestream video on Facebook might be more successful in terms of audience retention, but if it is a pre-produced video, the metrics are in: short = win. Long = fail.
Again, this is with pre-produced content. A live video will have a different reach, audience retention, the whole nine yards. You need to play around with it and see what kinds of video you’re going to be sharing live (easy example of a regular live video: church services) and do it several times to really see what kind of data you’re dealing with.
Here’s a live video’s average watch time from one of our church services:
I believe with my whole heart, from what I see at my church and with this content, that you have less than 13 seconds to get your point across. That means if you’re cutting a short film trailer and you want to share a blurb on Facebook, it needs to be in the vein of the old Vine videos: short. People just don’t have any attention span on Facebook. It’s a different venue. I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face: a theater carries with it an expectation of sitting still for about 2 hours. A sitcom traditionally holds us for about 30 minutes. A Sunday morning worship service might run anywhere from an hour to two hours or more. Facebook, is no different than any other venue, and their videos are best consumed when they’re 13 seconds or less. The drop-off from 13 seconds to 60 seconds isn’t as pronounced, but then again at that point, you’ve already lost two-thirds or more of your audience. Heads up!
Trend # 2
Notice that Facebook audiences are getting older and older.
Consistently, the vast majority of the content you create on Facebook will be consumed by the 35-and-up crowd. If you ask an eighteen-year-old about a 35-year-old, I promise you that 18-year-old thinks the 35-year-old is ancient. It’s no different with technology. I’m fast approaching 35 myself, and I was one of the early adopters of Facebook when it was only open to college students.
That has changed.
The attention of college students is elsewhere, places like Instagram and Tik Tok. Nowadays it’s your older Millennials, Gen Xers, and everybody’s favorite generation, the Boomers that are dominating Facebook. Younger people moved on some time ago. Bear that in mind when you are putting a video or film clip or any other kind of moving picture onto Facebook. Your audience may or may not be there.
As a special mention, there is research that is suggesting that the 35-and-up crowd is now migrating to Snapchat as well. It’s no longer just for the kids anymore which explains why Tik Tok came thundering out of the recesses of social media obscurity to capture the attention of the teenagers and 20-something-year-olds. There must be something about being 35 and older that makes us slow and probably the most resistant to technological changes. Again, I’m not quite there yet, but I’m quickly getting there so I might as well lump myself into that group. I say that willfully because when I was first talking with my team about adopting Tik Tok to share the Gospel, it occurred to me that I was feeling resistant to learning a new platform. The moment that becomes our mindset, we are as good as dead and outdated if not extinct like the ole dinosaurs pre-Jurassic Park. Telling stories will never go out of style, but our methods of sharing stories will continue to evolve over time and we can’t afford to be fixated on one medium.
Trend # 3
The third trend I’m noticing is that it can be anywhere from a 2:1 to a 3:1 ratio of women to men that consume content on Facebook.
I’m not saying that guys aren’t on Facebook. I’m not saying that guys do not engage with content on Facebook. But what I am saying is that you will have to bear in mind that your video or short film or film clip or whatever it is you share on Facebook will most likely resonate with ladies. Keep that in mind when tailoring your message. It’s neither good nor bad, except maybe that us guys are just too disinterested to show that we appreciate the content by interacting with it. Good on you ladies! As a companion piece to this, I’m seeing similar metrics can exist on Instagram.
Perhaps it’s something at the DNA or molecular level about us guys: we connect over task and less over conversation. Obviously that’s not true for all guys nor is it true to say that all ladies connect over conversation. But by and large, in my experience, most guys connect over tasks which is why social media might be, as the name “social” suggests, something that us guys aren’t too good at. By 5:00 pm, we’ve used up most of our words, or we’ve retreated to the nothing box, as Mark Gungor calls it.. So, again I say, “good on you ladies!”
Trend # 4
Video consistently beats out other types of content on Facebook.
So, if you want to do a plug for your crowdfunding campaign, if you want to share a trailer, if you want to do anything that gets attention on Facebook, it needs to be a video clip, and then you need to go back to the first trend that I mentioned above. Don’t settle for a link, a picture, or just naked text. Go with video. If you absolutely can’t create a video on your smartphone because it’s broken or maybe you don’t have a smartphone, then the next best bet is a picture. Rarely will a picture beat out a video. I’ve seen it once in the time that I’ve been tracking Facebook metrics. Video metrics tell us that watching moving pictures is the new form of reading. 150 years ago, that was how people learned and that’s how people were entertained by and large. It was the cheapest, most viable form of mass communication. Video is now that new Titan. However many years from now, something else will replace video, probably an immersive experience like augmented reality or virtual reality or something that isn’t even on the books yet.
Trend # 5
The last trend that I’m seeing is that you want to be posting between 3 pm and 7 pm for your time zone, especially if your messaging is super local/regional.
The BLUE LINE is at 3 pm.
A good example of this would be our church. We create a lot of content that impacts our local slice of the Kansas City metro. We are not big like Saddleback or Elevation where our content is reaching masses around the world. Chances are, the automotive shop you are cutting a video for is in the same boat. They don’t need to post that video at 9 am. They need to post it at 3 – 7 pm in their time zone. You have diminishing returns past 7 pm, and it’s a slow climb to that peak hour around 3 or 4 pm, so you might as well use the scheduling feature within the Creator Studio to maximize your views.
There’s no excuse to just throw a video out there and hope for the best. The old saying from Field of Dreams – if you build it, he will come – is not applicable here. You need to be intentional about when you share your video. The biggest studios do the same with their movies. They fight and bicker with one another about when to launch a movie. They know it’s unwise to launch a Star Wars movie on August 5th when everybody goes back to school. And after what happened to poor Ron Howard and the Solo movie in the Star Wars universe, they will probably be reluctant to release anymore origin stories, especially on after one of their bigger tentpole Star Wars movies. Or, it’ll end up in their digital $5 bucket, Disney+. You may scoff at this idea, but I think the $5 DVD bin at Walmart has evolved and is taking on less ostensible appearances in the forms of the Netflix, Amazon Prime, or now Disney+ libraries. In any event, to stay on track here, scheduling matters! As far as I can tell, you can schedule however far out in advance you want, so there is no excuse to not do it.
What other data-driven trend have you observed? I wanna know below!
Wrap – er, soapbox
Ultimately I want to tell stories of hope that point people to Jesus, the hope of the world, and if you are a follower of Jesus as well, welcome. If not, you’re still welcome here. I will be blunt with other followers of Jesus, and I’m doing it out of love because the time is growing short. The kingdom of darkness is committed to distorting our beliefs as much as possible. We can’t afford to be idle benchwarmers, not when we’ve been given the time, talent, and perhaps even the wherewithal to go and record stories, be they fictional or non-fictional. I hope you will partner with the King of Kings when you pick up that camera. I hope you will be a good steward of your time and not digest things that are harmful to your soul. I hope and pray you will not be complicit in the sex trafficking industry by partaking in porn. I hope and pray that you will continue to be submissive to the authorities appointed over you and trust in the Lord’s timing and provision for your stories to be realized. I pray that you will not let envy rot your bones but that you will be content with the truth of the Gospel in your life. I’m done with my soap box. I’ll see you next time.
Need a primer on setting up Facebook Ads? Let’s break it down by sections:
Video Views Ads (all of us need to know this one, at bare minimum)
Originally published: December 2, 2019. Updated May 24, 2020.