Facebook video is likely a growing priority for you.
And that could be a smart thing. The Facebook video platform is getting better, and there’s no doubt that there’s a large audience on Facebook.
Lately I’ve been uploading more videos to Facebook. Because of that, I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve learned both by experience and by research. My goal here is to help you make Facebook video that gets viewed, liked, and commented.
Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way first…
Facebook Video Settings
Facebook can handle plenty of different video types, but these are the ideal settings according to Facebook’s help page.
- Use the H.264 codec for Facebook video, and the AAC codec for the audio portion of your video. H.264 is a popular (and very good) video codec that yields high quality video for the file size. Most video converters can transcode to the H.264 codec, and the same goes for AAC for audio.
- The ideal file formats are MOV or MP4. In other words, the resulting file name will look something like myvideo.mp4 or myvideo.mov.
- The ideal Facebook video dimension is 720p (frame size of 1280px wide by 720px high). If you upload a video that’s higher resolution than that, Facebook will downsize the video. If you let Facebook resize the video frame, you might lose some quality in the process. My preference is to downsize the video locally on my computer before uploading the video to Facebook. That way I have more control.
- The video frame rate must be 30 frames-per-second or less. I shoot a lot of video these days at 60 frames per second (a fairly recent development in my video life), but in order for Facebook to play the video back, it needs to be reduced to 30fps or less. I do this locally on my computer as well.
- Audio requirements are: stereo audio with a sample rate of 44,100 Hz (commonly printed like 44.1 kHz). This is a common setting, but many video cameras capture at a 48 kHz sample rate, so you might need to do some conversion here as well.
- The maximum duration of a Facebook video can be 25 minutes. But seriously…when was the last time someone watched a 25 minute long video on Facebook? That’s not a common thing. You probably want to keep your videos to 3 minutes or shorter. On the internet a 3 minute video can feel like forever, and this is especially true when you’re on Facebook scanning through your News Feed.
Those are the technical requirements. Pretty straight-forward stuff. Now, how do you ensure your Facebook video meets these requirements? You can use a variety of different video converters.
Personally, I always start with my master video file. I bring the master in to Apple’s Compressor, where I have a preset that I’ve tweaked a bit. I started with the built-in Facebook video preset that comes with Compressor, changed a few things, and saved it as a new preset.
While we’re talking about Facebook video, here are a few more tips you might find useful:
Watch Your Video Without Audio
Before you upload your video, turn the volume on your computer all the way down and watch the video. Why should you do this?
This will be the way many people first see your video. The Facebook video autoplay feature shows the video playing in a person’s News Feed without audio.
If someone is interested enough to watch the video, they can click on it and it will play with audio. But at first, they’ll likely see the video playing silently.
How can you make your Facebook video interesting without audio? There are a few keys to this:
- Show something they’re interested in. For example, if you have a Facebook page that’s all about ferret rescues, start the video with a close-up of a ferret’s face.
- Don’t make your Facebook video for social media. This is too general. Instead, make the video for the people who specifically subscribe to your Facebook page.
- Surprise the viewer. Assess your Facebook page by asking yourself this question: How many of the videos have an element of surprise to them? The answer to this question might…(ahem)…surprise you. Many of the most popular videos that tend to go viral have an element of surprise. Visual surprises can work well.
- Show human faces. We’re drawn to faces, especially close-ups where you can see the emotion on somebody’s face. Show a close-up of emotion on a face, and you’re likely to get someone’s attention. (Now the next question is, can you hold their attention once you have it?)
These are interesting visuals that can capture a viewer’s attention, even without audio.
Keep in mind that some Facebook users have autoplay disabled. For them, you’ll want to make sure you choose an interesting poster frame (aka thumbnail). This is the still image that represents your video. Facebook will automatically give you several to choose from, and you can choose the one that’s likely to be the most interesting to your viewers.
Ask for Engagement
Nobody outside of Facebook knows the exact details of how the Facebook News Feed algorithm works, but there is something that definitely helps your post show up in other people’s feeds:
If you post something that gets a lot of likes and comments, it typically appears in more people’s feeds.
When you post a video on Facebook, there’s more to the post than just the video. You also have the chance to add text. It makes sense to ask your viewers a simple question. A simple question is easier to answer, so it might get more responses than a complicated, difficult-to-answer question.
You can also explicitly ask them to like the post, share it, or all of the above. If the post gets a lot of engagement, it could show up in more people’s News Feeds.
Facebook video is getting more and more popular, so it’s important that video creators spend some time with it.
The challenge with sharing this kind of information is that Facebook is always changing things. Because of that, I intend to update this page as significant changes happen.