Close your eyes, inhale deeply and imagine the sheer volume of video circulating the Internet in any given second. By 2021, it would take a full two years to view every piece of content online in just that one moment.

Overwhelming? Sure, but it’s also a massive opportunity for brands to orient their content marketing toward video, and make sure they’re doing all they can to stand out.

We’ve just launched the second edition of the Bynder x OnBrand Video Awards, which recognize the organizations and agencies making the best branded videos—beautifully told stories, beautifully shot.

Last year’s winner was ‘A Husky Story’ for skincare brand Kiehl’s, by London-based animation studio and production agency Feed Me Light. The video tells the story of  quinoa husk Jim and how he replenishes his skin overnight in a quirky stop-motion style, with no dialogue. It was only released on social media and via YouTube pre-rolls (not as a TVC).

Our 2017 pick of the litter is telling as it embodies many of the trends shaping branded video content in 2018 and beyond. Here’s a few things to keep in mind the next time you grab that camera (before they become cool 😎).

Think Facebook-first… and last 💯

According to a study by SimpleReach, all 50 of the most-viewed branded videos last year were published on Facebook. The most popular was a collaboration between Tasty (an experiment by BuzzFeed that audiences really gobbled up, to put it mildly) and yogurt brand Chobani, which gained a staggering 22 million views.

 
 
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Regardless, if you want to get eyeballs on your work, it’s hard to argue with the reach Facebook provides, or its value for money relative to television.

If television is still a part of your media mix, Facebook video ads are a natural complement. In a smart move, Nielsen now includes Facebook in its Digital Content Ratings; presenting a side-by-side display of viewership across all platforms for both TV and digital clients, providing valuable data for client buy-in and informed decision-making.

Top tip: Create square (1:1) videos rather than landscape (16:9). Square videos are better for mobile as they fill up 78% more of the screen than landscape videos (most video views are now on mobile).

Audio is so 2017 🔇

None of the top 10 branded videos from 2017 rely on audio to convey their stories.

To be clear, they all have audio, but it’s negligible—like background music or noise. This makes sense, as Facebook by default autoplays sans sound.

Any expository dialogue should always be subtitled. If people are watching videos on public transport, at work, or in bed after lights out, you can bet they want to do so silently. The contrast with TV (where the volume is annoyingly hiked up during ad break) is interesting. On Facebook, brands are challenged to find the most visually compelling parts of their products or messaging.

Top tip: You can use a nifty little thing called a .srt file to save yourself oodles of transcription time. When you’re creating video ads in Power Editor, there’s a little-known hack to automatically generate captions—learn how here.

Shorter is sweeter 🍬

Thanks to smartphones, humans reportedly have shorter attention spans than goldfish.

According to research from Wistia, the sweet spot for videos is not under three seconds, it’s two minutes. Engagement drops steadily after this point.

Top tip: The first four seconds are often the make-or-break point. Shock, awe, a killer joke, whatever you have in your arsenal: storyboard, write your script and edit your video with this drop-off point in mind.  

Fall into a few key verticals 🍲

Cooking is by far the most popular category among branded content. Who doesn’t love mesmerizing food porn? The other verticals rounding out the top five are fairly obvious: animals, travel, DIY, and culture.

You may think you’re in a ‘boring’ industry, but by thinking laterally, or forming partnerships with other brands, you can broaden the scope of the content you put out and give people the stuff they love to watch.

For instance, a banana cake recipe video may be the perfect fit for a microwave oven brand, a granite benchtop manufacturer, or a parenting magazine wanting to promote father-daughter bonding (if they’re featured, of course). This may even be suitable for nail polish—after all, hands are in every frame!

Top tip: How-to or instructional videos are the most searched for across Google and YouTube. Including ‘how to’ in your title is good for SEO, but it’s also great at the planning stage, as you’re forced to think about how you can educate or be useful for your audience rather than sell to them. Combine with one or more of the five key verticals, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

Go live 🎭

The appeal of live video is in its authenticity and accessibility. ‘Live’ televised content is the next iteration of content on demand, with sport and music remaining as popular as ever, and new players—the BBC’s Stargazing Live immediately springs to mind—being given a warm welcome. The thrill of a live broadcast is hard to beat, and the rawness and spontaneity (real or perceived) helps to humanize brands.

With regards to accessibility, Facebook Live and Instagram Live have democratized video-making. All you need is an account, a smartphone, and, if you’re feeling fancy, a tripod. Live video goes hand in hand with events, of course, but we’re seeing more and more innovative ways of leveraging live streaming—such as consumer-led content allowing viewers to influence what happens next via various social media interactions.

Facebook Live videos experience three times the engagement of standard native video posts, and use of the product grew by 94% in 2017 alone

While your video should feel off-the-cuff, it’s important to get your strategy right before you hit that ‘Go Live’ button.

Top tip: As a live stream can’t be promoted, getting eyeballs on your content relies on organic reach. Comments are the biggest driver of reach, and the best way to encourage your audience to do so is via a competition. It doesn’t need to be big, but it must be relevant, and, ideally, it should give you more content to work with. Try getting viewers to ask a question for a chance to win a prize, or even respond to something with an emoji.

Have you made a piece of branded content you’re proud of? Whether it follows or breaks the rules, consider submitting it to the Bynder and OnBrand Video Awards. They’re free, it takes just 30 seconds to enter—all you need to do is upload the video file! First prize includes tickets to OnBrand ‘18 in Amsterdam, €2000 for travel and accommodation, and eternal glory.

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