In January of 2017, Facebook announced an algorithm update, including changes to the way they rank videos in the News Feed. As a social media management tool that makes it easy for social media marketers to schedule and manage posts across social networks in one place, it’s important for Buffer to always stay current with the latest social marketing trends and best practices that are critical to their customers' success. As a result, they wanted to dive in to find out what types of videos perform best within the new algorithm, and share their findings with their customers and others looking to stand out on social media.
Buffer already has research that shows that videos get 3X more engagement than any other type of content on social media. But Brian Peters, Digital Strategist at Buffer, says they wanted to do new research to “get to the bottom of what makes certain videos successful on social media.” He created an Animoto account and set out to do some tests and answer the question, “Where does video perform best and in what format?”
Brian started by creating a quick video announcement to inform their fans about the algorithm update. He uploaded it natively to the Buffer Facebook page. Then, the Buffer team dove into A/B testing.
Starting with the fact that square video takes up 78% more real estate in the News Feed than landscape videos, they decided to start with testing the performance of videos with different aspect rations - square, landscape, and letterbox (a landscape video in a square player with black bars at the top and bottom). Then used Animoto to set up 60+ video variations for A/B tests over the course of 3 weeks. They measured and compared results for mobile vs. desktop, as well as performance across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Animoto made it easy to create video variations for their tests.
“Since using Animoto to create square videos for social media, we’ve seen an increase in views of over 100% and engagement increase of nearly 70%.”
After running a series of tests in order to better understand which video aspect ratios, which devices, and which types of content work best for their video marketing, what did Buffer find? They came to several conclusions, which they’ve compiled into an in-depth report on their blog.
One of the biggest takeaways is that it is important to consider both square and landscape videos, depending upon your objectives. However, Buffer found that square videos get 3X more engagement. And that’s not all. On mobile - where more than 90% of daily active Facebook users are logging in - they found that square videos lead to a 40% increase in video views.
So how did the video Brian made about Facebook’s algorithm announcement do? Well, it was their second most-viewed video of all time, with 8,800 views, 169 reactions, 23 comments, and 53 shares.