What Does Facebook’s Decision To Autoplay Sound On Videos Mean For You?

If you’ve been on the receiving end of any business-related videos in your Facebook feed over the last 18 months, you may have noticed a pattern of the presenter trying to get you to ‘turn up the volume’ in the first 10 or 15 seconds. This is because when FB introduced autoplay videos, the sound was turned off. Users had to manually turn up the volume in order to hear the video, and a whole school of video experts taught that getting the presenter to gurn or jump up and down in the first few seconds was a key to what they called ‘pattern interrupt’ people’s scrolling habits.

But all that has now changed.

As of today, Facebook will be rolling out sound as an autoplay feature on videos. According to FB HQ, this is ‘what consumers want and expect’. So, as you scroll through your feed, any video will immediately have its sound playing. And if if you don’t want to watch a video, it may still appear and play in the corner of your feed. YouTube pioneered this a while back, and I’ve never quite been sure of its merit. If I want to watch a video, I’ll keep watching it: it’s never really seemed logical or practical to me to have it play in the corner while I search for something else. If I had four eyes, this might work.

One immediate effect for businesses with Facebook’s decision is whether or not to continue to employ subtitles and graphics. I would definitely advise holding off from making any big changes in process until we see how this all plays out. Users have become so used to seeing subtitles, and stylish graphics can often increase the appeal of a video that they may expect this to continue.

Users may also find this new feature annoying. It’s one thing to make a decision about choosing to watch and then listen to a video, but it’s another to actually have the sound play out. It’s probably going to be fine in the long run, but will the sound clash with any other sounds on a mobile — music for example? And if people aren’t using headphones on public transport or at work, for example, are they and their neighbours going to be subjected to a cacophony of unwanted noise?

I run Handface.co.uk, and we help companies get noticed with video. Drop me a line if you’d like us to help you out. This is my book about how and why we share videos:

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