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Tips for High-Quality Facebook Video

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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:

User engagement.

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Stock media provided by mrbrainous/Pond5.com

18 thoughts on “Tips for High-Quality Facebook Video

  1. Hi Izzy,
    I have uploaded videos to Facebook and yes the quality is pretty awful.
    I now use the URL link in youtube to upload my videos to Facebook.
    I’ve messed with the settings but still with no joy.
    You say you have adjusted the settings in compressor but you do not say what those settings are.
    Is this something you are going to share or just leave us guessing?
    Thanks.
    Regards,
    Neil.

    1. Neil, I’m planning a separate piece that will cover the specific Compressor settings I use. :)

      1. Hi! Has the specific Compressor settings been posted yet?

  2. Izzy,

    You’ve got my curiosity up… why do you find yourself shooting at 60fps more often?

    Thanks!

    1. Carl — Haha!

      I love the reality of 60p. I’m shooting with the Panasonic PX270 mostly these days and 60p looks incredible from it. Since I’m shooting more ENG style (than cinematic) lately, I dig the realness of 60p. I didn’t think I’d ever shoot 60p for purposes other than slow motion, but I was wrong. I’m not a convert. :)

      1. Cool! I imagine people’s taste in the way video looks is going to move in that direction. I’ll have to check it out.

  3. By default FB will play your video in standard definition.

    Does this method allow the default video to come in clear without selecting the HD button on Fb video player?

    Thanks

    1. Louis – The viewer still needs to push the HD button if they want to see the video in HD.

      I believe if you’re uploading a video to an official page (such as a business Facebook page), then an HD video can play back in HD as a default. I wish it was the same for personal profiles, but as of now, I don’t think it is.

  4. Hi from Ireland,
    Great article but wondered if you have a date for your piece on compressor? I have tried to use it , but with no success
    Thanks
    Dave

    1. Hi Dave, Which piece on Compressor? I have several videos on Compressor that I’ve made over the years, and some are just a few months old.

  5. Thanks Izzy this was helpful. Particularly the “Watch Your Video Without Audio” section – that’s key. Perhaps it’s time to update this article with a new version? Or does everything still apply 18 months later? Thanks!

  6. Izzy, after exporting my video from Final Cut Pro and put it on Facebook, it doesn’t tell my computer and or QuickTime the correct setting (HD, 720,etc.) so the movie is not as clear unless I manually change it by clicking the gear in the bottom right hand corner? Please help..

    1. It’s been a while since the last time I tested Facebook video. I don’t have the answer for you right now, but I’ll make a note to do some testing in the (hopefully) near future.

  7. thanks Izzy .. prefect tips

  8. Your article is GREAT! Thank you for taking the time to compile this information for all of us. I was wondering if you could tell me is there a way to post a video to Facebook from Final Cut Pro X without it showing “Final Cut Pro X” as the source on Facebook? This seems to be the default when you share directly to Facebook from Final Cut Pro X. Perhaps there is another way to post to avoid this…?

    Thank you

    1. I’m not aware of a way to do that from inside FCPX. The way to get around it is to export to a regular master video file first, then use Compressor to transcode the video for Facebook, then upload the video to Facebook.

      1. Thank you. That was exactly what I thought I would need to do. However I am not a Compressor user. Is the purspose of compressor to “compress” the master file that you will later export?

        I noticed you mentioned an article where you would share your Facebook video presets for Compressor. Have you written that article yet?

        100 thanks!
        DW

        1. Yes, I shared that Compressor preset with my members a while back, but you don’t really need it because Compressor has a Facebook preset that works just fine these days.

          Another option which would work just as well without Compressor is this:

          1) From Final Cut Pro , use the Share menu
          2) Export a File (You might need to add this from the destinations)
          3) In the export settings, change the video codec to H.264.

          Once you’ve exported that H.264 file, you can upload it to Facebook.

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