5 Best Practices for Mobile Video

Mobile devices have seen a 360% increase in daily use-time since 2011. Thanks to the increasing ubiquity of mobile, digital video has also enjoyed an enormous rise: between just Snapchat and Facebook, the two platforms see close to 20 billion video views daily. Video is a hugely engaging format because it tells a complete story that is easy for consumers to understand.

A mobile screen is vastly different from traditional video formats like TV, so it's tempting to recycle TV commercials for the mobile screen. However, the content doesn't translate entirely due to the unique user experience on mobile. Mobile video is unique for a number of reasons: it's often consumed on-the-go or during another activity, its technical specifications are different from TV or desktop, and must make sense without sound on and within a few seconds.

You need a mobile first strategy and thorough understanding of what tactic work and don't based on these unique characteristics of mobile video, so we've identified 5 best practices of mobile video to help your brand standout from the pack.

#1: Capture attention early

Even though platforms like Facebook and Twitter have enabled video auto-play, you still have to hook your viewer in the first three seconds or risk them scrolling past your content. Make sure your opening frames are unique, captivating and make the viewer want to watch the remainder of the video. Incorporating a recognizable element like your logo or an intriguing face early on will help retain viewers.

#2: Design for sound-off

85% of Facebook's video content is played while muted for a number of reasons: it could be that viewers don't want to disturb others, that they're browsing content and feeds while listening to music, or for privacy. Further, auto-play cues up videos without sound, requiring the user to click through to the player to hear the audio. To circumvent this, create video that works without sound: incorporate subtitles or visual elements that complement the video itself.

#3: Frame your visual story

Mobile screens are small and are in portrait mode 98% of the time, and their screen aspect ratios are often different. Brands are used to creating video for big, landscape TV screens, but on mobile, orientation and resolution are more than technical details: they have a big impact on viewer expereince, so create vertical videos or show magnified visuals so that all details can be seen clearly on the mobile screen.

#4: Length matters

The modern consumers' attention span is a mere 8 seconds and since most people are multitasking or on-the-go when watching mobile videos, length becomes even more crutial. According to a joint study from Facebook and Nielsen, 74% of the content's impact is delivered in the first 10 seconds, with nearly half in the first 3 seconds. There is a time and place for longer format videos, but just not on mobile: so tell a compelling story through short videos before your viewers get distracted.

#5: Optimize thumbnail & title

Since mobile viewers have the power to choose what they click and watch (forget about your guaranteed TV spot), select an intriguing thumbnail and title to encourage clicks and viewing. Major platforms let you choose the frame you want to represent your video, so after you complete a video you're proud of, don't simply use the default first frame as thumbnail- choose the most interesting frame and title that drives viewers to watch.

Create skip-proof videos
When creating mobile video, keep in mind how much marketing content the modern consumer sees in a day, which can be as high as 5000 individual messages. According to a recent survey, viewers are less likely to skip a video if it's:

  1. funny
  2. in a category of interest
  3. giving them something in return
  4. from a brand of interest
  5. intriguing

The rise of mobile has brought on an unprecedented rise in video content. Many marketers are tempted to repurpose and recycle old TV content for mobile, but often, this fails due to a lack of platform-specific specs, subtitles, visual elements, or length. Mobile video is inarguably different from traditional video and should be created with the mobile viewer in mind, not just as an afterthought. Platforms like Snapchat are now pushing producers to create content for mobile-only, which is vertically oriented and overlaid with eye-catching graphic elements. Expect to see more mobile-native content as the smartphone continues to dominate other devices like TV or desktop.