Your Facebook videos require a lot of creativity and a lot of time to make, especially once you start looking at creating multiple videos back to back. They’re easily worth it, as 71% of Facebook users increased their social video viewing in the last year, and 60% more are expected to do within the next. Native videos are also prioritized in the algorithm more than other content, and are given much higher reach than outbound links or potentially even text-only posts from your Page.
We’re enormous fans of Facebook video marketing here at Snappa, but we’ve always noticed that after all the work it takes to create a great Facebook video campaign, there’s one place that businesses often forget to pay attention. That’s the video ad format.
In this post, we’re going to take a close look at the best Facebook video format that you can use, why it matters, and how to get the best results from your videos every time.
The Best Facebook Video Format
While most file types on Facebook are supported, the best video format for Facebook is the MP4 file format (similar to Instagram video). This file type is a solid choice, as it will be high performing and is accepted by almost all other social platforms already.
Facebook itself has also detailed other formatting guidelines that they’d recommend. The technical suggestions they have include:
- The highest resolution source video available; avoid pillar boxing, or black bars. Your video can only look as great as the source material, after all.
- File sizes must be under 4GB
- H.264 compression
- Fixed frame rates
- Progressive scan
- AAC audio compression at 128kbps+
- Square pixels
The Other Technical Requirements to Keep in Mind
The above all detail the technical requirements for video format, but there are a few other guidelines that brands need to follow.
Here’s the rest of the technical data that you need to know:
- Video length must be between 1 second and 240 minutes long. Ad campaigns will typically perform best between 30 seconds to 1 minute in length, and typically keeping it under two minutes is the way to go for organic posts, though this varies heavily based on industry, audience, and what you’re creating.
- The exception to the above is Stories; they should be no more than 15 seconds long.
- Video sounds and captions are both optional, but recommended. Captions are most effective when added as SRT files. Keep in mind that 85% of all video on Facebook is watched without any sound.
- Ideal aspect ratios will be 16:9 for landscape, 1:1 for square, and 2:3 for vertical video and Stories.
- You can choose from landscape, square, and vertical videos.
- If you’re running ad campaigns, the video’s thumbnail shouldn’t contain any more than 20% text or it could impact its reach and potential.
Why Video Formats Matter
A video format sounds creative, but for the purpose of this post, it’s really entirely technical. The format will describe the type of video file you convert your content to and use to upload it to the platform. In a general sense, it can also include technical specifications like how many frames per second are ideal and maximum file size.
Video formats sound like a tiny detail, but they carry a lot of weight. Some video formats may not even be supported by Facebook, for example, while others may result in poorer-quality audio or low-resolution visuals. Getting the format right the first time will not only ensure that your viewers are getting the best watching experience possible, but that you won’t have to go back later and rework it.
Facebook Video General Best Practices
Whether you’re using your video to connect with organic audiences, engage with your groups, or to support your ad campaigns (or all three!), there are a few more things you can do to increase the quality of video and/or its odds of success. These are going to be a little more on the creative and strategy side of things than the technical, so combining the best video formats with strong creatives will be the way to go.
Here are a few tips that you should always remember:
- Keep your videos diverse overall. Having a similar structure in a campaign is good, but shaking things up can work, too. Your audience likely has multiple segments, and different types of content will perform differently with each. By having diverse content, you’re better positioned to reach everyone.
On Facebook, you can even section these videos into playlists of their own, making them easy to find by those who want to see them. Try to incorporate a combination of actionable videos, informational videos, and Lives. While live video can seem like a hassle, users spend 3x more on average watching Lives than they do pre-recorded content.
- Create custom thumbnails. Trust me here– you want to take the extra step to make a custom video thumbnail. Not only will it make your video look more professional with added context like text overlay, graphics, or having a similar title card for consistent branding, but it will also prevent what I lovingly call the pause-zombie effect.
Think about it. Pick any video you want of someone talking and press pause. They’re almost certain to look high, confused, or a little deranged. I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t like the video thumbnail that Facebook generates automatically, so use Snappa to create a custom one that will look incredible and start the video off on the right foot.
- Consider other platforms when creating your content. Video content can take a lot of time and effort to create. If you know for sure that you want your video to be shared without editing on Instagram and YouTube and Twitter, keep that in mind. Instagram and Twitter videos have tighter time requirements, for example, and SRT files aren’t yet supported on Instagram or IGTV. Sometimes cropping or resizing can go weird, as you can see here on Twitter.
Note that this doesn’t mean that you should ignore Facebook’s general best practices, but be strategic in planning from the beginning to save yourself some time.
- Keep it short. This is one tip that you’ll find on most reliable blog posts about Facebook videos. While there are exceptions to this (and quality lives are often one of them), you’re going to be able to snag the best viewer watch times and retention rates with short videos.
I’ve actually been one of the people guilty of stumbling onto an interesting video on Facebook, enjoying it, and then seeing I had ten minutes to go. I nope’d out of that faster than I could even contemplate the decision because it felt like too big of an investment. Two and a half minutes is a good max limit for the average content on Facebook, and shorter absolutely always works; you can break down longer content into a series if you’d like.
Facebook video has so much potential to help you connect with your target audience in meaningful ways, whether that’s by creating discussion in a small group that’s centered around your brand or by introducing your products to new, cold audiences. To get those incredible results, however, you need to be able to create visually interesting, well-thought out content that will keep them watching long enough to get those messages. Choosing the right Facebook video format will be key here, because you’ll struggle to create high-performing campaigns without them.
What do you think? How do you use Facebook video to connect with your audience? Have all of our best practices rung true with you? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!