5 things to think about before using a Facebook Page cover video for your charity.

At their F8 developer conference back in April, Facebook announced that they’d be letting Page owners use video instead of static images as their Page cover images.

But, should you bother? I’d not seen any real life examples (I hadn’t been looking, but more on that…) but nice people on Twitter shared some with me. Five examples:

Dogs Trust — obviously features a dog. Also has a text to donate call to action, and a hashtag.

Samaritans — like a moving photo, when I looked, but they’re playing around with it so might well change (+1).

Save the Children — longer video, no text, no sound.

Crohn’s and Colitis UK — people speaking to camera. No subtitles, my sound is off… But it’s a symptoms message with walking event call to action.

MND Association — This might be my fave so far. It’s tying in with their #MyEyesSay campaign and the letterbox ratio works so well for the eyes (even if the text changes a little too quickly).

So it’s obviously an opportunity people will want to make the most of, but is it worth it and how can you best make use of this new feature? Questions to consider…

  1. Who visits your Facebook Page?

The reason I’d not really seen real life examples of cover videos is that I don’t visit Pages. Like most people, I see content in my newsfeed. We all know this.

My charity’s Facebook Page has 640,000 likes. Between 1–28 June just 2,325 people visited our Page. That’s 0.36%. In that time, our posts organically reached in the region of 1.3million people. So visits to Page, where people are will see the video cover is tiny.

Visits to our Facebook Page

But that’s probably 2,325 pretty engaged people. They came for a reason and they’d have seen a cover photo. And we all know how much Facebook has told us that video drives greater “engagement” than other content so get the message right on any shiny new cover video and you’re on to something…

In my experience, updating your cover photos (and if that post is then visible) doesn’t generate huge reach or interest — but a video would increase this, so there’s that… Worth keeping in mind for a campaign launch or big news, perhaps.

2. What video should you use?

I’ve not been blown away by the examples I’ve seen so far. Even this from Netflix’s Narcos series is *yawn* (but then so is the series *controversial*). You need to think about what you want people to do when watching it. Who is most likely to be making the effort to actually visit your Page and see it? Someone new to the charity who needs reassurance, advice, guidance, education about what you do?

Have these visitors actually already liked your Page, or follow you? There’s an argument then that your video should encourage these actions to that people can see more of your lovely content in their newsfeed.

Facebook’s relaxed their Page T&Cs around cover images now, so you can pretty much do what you want (within reason).

Re-using existing footage might seem like a good idea to begin with (it actually worked perfectly for the MND Association), but that might have sound. Or need subtitles, or be filmed for another purpose. Maybe you should film something quickly and just for this purpose because…

3. What ratio should it be?

Lots of people seems to struggle with the dimensions of normal Facebook Page cover photos anyway. Images crop differently on desktop vs mobile and the video will be no different. Se below; same video, pretty much at the same time-stamp:

Desktop crop (left) compared to same video on mobile (right).

This is something to consider, and if you use a previously shot film you might lose some important detail when it comes to mobile (which is arguably where most people will see it anyway). Facebook suggests that cover videos dimensions are 820x312 but these are not standard video dimensions, so the action will need to be centre middle of your frame (like the MND eyes).

I say shoot something specifically for your cover video, and consider points 4 and 5 below.

4. Does it need sound?

I’m going to say no. Or at least if it does, make sure it works without. This is just best practice when it comes to social video now, so I won’t labour the point — you know this stuff (most videos watched without sound etc etc).

5. How long should it be?

With any Facebook video, we know the first 3 seconds are key. Hook people in or else they’re off, scrolling away. The same can be said for this example. So, I think you should keep it short.

The Save the Children example is the longest I’ve currently seen (apparently they can be between 20–90 seconds in length). The Crohn’s example is nice as an explanation of cause/event call to action, but you can’t pause or scroll back through these cover videos — which was annoying as I missed some of what was said first time round and had to watch it all again. Keep this in mind — short, succinct, clear messages! People are unlikely to watch again I’d guess.

Give me your examples

So there you go. Give it some thought and let me know. I don’t think they’re going to be hugely distracting to users, and used properly will add value to an audience who are probably more engaged with you (or want to be…) because they’re taking the time to visit your Page.

Let me know if you experiment, or if you come across any real life examples. I’d love to see them. Comment below or tweet @josephfreeman.

Updates… I’ll share other examples here as I see them or as they’re shared with me.

Leonard Cheshire Disability — This is an existing video that works nicely because all the action happens in the centre of the frame. Has audio but subtitles work nicely here. Works nicely to support existing campaign.

Child.org — Apparently knocked up quickly in YouTube, which is exciting. I love how it starts here with the kids.

Coppafeel! — I like this one a lot. It uses an existing video to support their #Festifeel event and it’s bright, bold and eye catching.

Breast Cancer Now — taking an existing recent video and slotting it in. The team re-cut the film slightly so the ratio didn’t cut people’s heads off, and nicely links in with the “Learn more” call to action button to drive awareness of how to check your breasts for signs of breast cancer.

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