Category Archives: Facebook

Platform/content fit – The biggest mistake brands are making with social video and how to overcome it…

Since the dawn of the TV era, the way we tell brand stories through video has improved considerably. The content and quality has improved, and the best brands and agencies have become masters at creating emotional, surprising narratives, often using a similar sped up version of Joseph Campbell’s famous ‘Hero’s Journey’ structure that most great movies are based on.

Traditionally, we’ve told stories built for a passive environment, meaning people have to watch the ad all the way through. In television advertising, the big reveal almost always happens towards the end, after a big lead in and before some brand message. Given a 15-30-45 second ad slot, that was the best way to gather as much attention as possible.

But there’s a problem.


We’ve become so accustomed to the TV way of telling stories through video, we’ve tried to shoehorn it into social too. How many times have you seen a TV advert placed in skippable pre-roll, or directly uploaded to Facebook?

To do this is to proactively harm the effectiveness of your video campaign. Video ad units tend to be set in the mobile newsfeed or another opt-in environment, whereby the user must choose to not skip, or to not flip past the video in their feed. Most of the time, sound is off too, creating another challenge to the way we’ve always done things.

Thus, the way we structure our video content has to fundamentally change to fit the reality of platform viewing.

To create truly integrated campaigns, we can’t keep trying to force the square peg of a TV ad into the round hole of a social feed, pre-roll or story.

‘3 second audition’

BBDO NY has done some brilliant work in this space, and the below graph describes the difference between the passive and active story arc.

One of the biggest challenges in an autoplay, soundless newsfeed that’s filled with other interesting things is to ‘win the 3 second audition‘. As BBDO references above, if people aren’t necessarily going to watch your full video then what you put in those first few seconds is more crucial than ever.

Unlike in ‘passive’ environments like forced 30 second pre-roll or TV, our creative needs to present a the idea and grab an audience in the opening few seconds. That’s a big shift in thinking and requires a change in the way we shoot and particularly edit branded content.


At a recent IAB Connect event, Facebook’s Olly Sewell discussed the importance of optimising and chopping video content for the mobile feed outlining the increase in recall and effectiveness if that’s the case.

This is something Facebook has been preaching for a while, and it’s something we must be aware of no matter what social or digital video we’re planning.

Here’s an example from social news brand ‘The Dodo’. Sure, it’s not a consumer brand per se, but it’s a perfect showcase of understanding the way people consume video in the feed and optimising for that.

If this was a TV or YouTube video, it would start at the start and leave the big reveal until three quarters in. But because it’s Facebook video, if the reveal is too hidden, the user is gone by the time the climax comes. So through a simple editing technique, The Dodo starts the video in the middle, and then literally re-winds to give the full story.

Here’s another example from Wrigley’s gum. The first clip below is a TV spot told in the traditional way.

The second is a shorter social optimised video clip that flips the story arc around to optimise for the way we consume video in feed.

Adapting for the platform significantly increases creative effectiveness, so be mindful of platform/content fit and don’t just lazily adhere to the old ways of telling stories in the passive TV environment. At the moment that’s the biggest mistake brands are making with social video.

When it comes to social media less is more…

We have a tendency as modern marketers to focus on volume. The presumption is that the more creative executions, more videos, more blogposts, more adverts we create, the better our results will be.

But more is not always better, particularly when it comes to social.

As much as we’d like it to be, our budget isn’t unlimited. Our job is to spend limited resources wisely, to understand our constraints and find ways to overcome them.

Previously, when organic reach was still achievable for all, it made sense for a brand to post 2-3 times daily. But that has changed. Most brands reach 1% of their Facebook fanbase, and with algorithmically driven feeds becoming part of Instagram and Twitter too, the organic approach is dying. Social is now categorically pay to play.

Thus, often little point putting a huge amount of effort into creating and manicuring a social post unless you’re paying to put it in front of people.

The problem used to be that we didn’t have enough social assets to push out. But now, a marketer’s main issue, whether they realise it or not, is often having too many assets and not enough media budget to get them placed in front of the right people.

The emphasis should be on creating less posts (thereby reducing production costs and time to create) but better optimising the things you do create, and ensuring that everything has at least some paid budget behind it. Brands no longer needs a constant stream of organic posts. Production budget should be more wisely spent in service of a bigger creative idea.

It’s easy to constantly create more without really understanding why you’re doing that. A more restrained approach is needed.

It sounds like a bit of a paradox given the need for brands to be ‘always on’, but otherwise you’re spreading your budget thin while also shouting into the black hole of the newsfeed.

Put the emphasis on doing less, but doing it better.


The figure/ground theory applied to social media – Why we’re measuring the wrong things…

Most days, my Linkedin feed is filled with shite. But the value of the network is that I’m connected to so many smart people, once in a while something absolutely golden pops up. This is one such example from Sony Head of Social & Creative Strategy Greg Allum.

It’s so refreshing to see someone in the industry speak so openly about the need for social to change if its to be taken seriously. Like with digital advertising, we’re moving to a stage where social has to mature and start to drive real business results.


In the beginning, social was seen as a ‘free’ channel where you could build ‘communities’ and ‘engage’ with ‘fans’. The real returns were fluffy.

Over the years, the smarter social marketers have moved away from this sort of language. They’ve started to really tie social back into coherent brand KPIs and sales. And they’ve quickly realise that social certainly isn’t free, but rather it’s incredibly effective when used as a paid media channel.

Yet according to research this week, ‘likes and shares’ is the second most important metric that brands and agencies in the UK use to measure effectiveness. Likewise in Ireland, we’ve seen CMOs come out in the media bragging about how many ‘Facebook likes’ their campaigns have driven, and we have publishers using their ‘millions’ of social followers to entice brands to spend with them. (Most of these are fake, but that’s another story!).

This is an outdated and illogical way to approach social.

As Paul Troy, CMO of says in this article, likes and shares are “not proven to convert into traffic or brand volume and are the metric most open to manipulation by the agency and the marketing team. That’s why most CEOs dismiss them as a marketing team’s excuse for not having delivered tangible business results.”

He’s 100% right.

Likes and shares are a smokescreen. They’re *almost* irrelevant to a brands success on social media, and they’re not the thing we should be optimising towards.


This is a perfect example of the ‘figure/ground‘ theory.

The things that we can see most easily are the things we tend to focus on. We place a higher level of importance on readily availably information. It’s much easier to measure social likes and shares than to actually tie activity back to real business results, so the majority of marketers do that. 

But in reality, likes and shares are easy to buy. They create a false veneer of success, when in reality, recent HBR research strongly indicates that:

  • Facebook page likers don’t buy more than non-likers
  • The majority of Facebook followers are already brand users (meaning you’re not growing penetration)
  • Facebook likers don’t behave differently

I’ve seen similar research for all main social channels.

If that’s not enough proof that likes and shares are vanity metrics, then I’m not sure what is.

When it’s gotten right, social can be incredibly effective. But as Greg says above, its up to those working in the industry to push things forward, start taking a more mature approach to social activity and start tying everything back to real effectiveness.

Otherwise, we all risk being relegated from the boardroom table.