Outbrain On Video: Rules We Live By When Optimizing our Video for Higher Engagement

Optimizing our Video for Higher Engagement

As content marketers, most of us know the basic strategies of creating engaging content. We strive to create stories that entertain our audience, give them some sort of practical value, or form an emotional connection (to name a few).

In short: we try to tell stories that stay with our readers.

For video content, the same general strategies apply, except the first step is getting that play button clicked.

Here are a few tips to get the highest engagement from your next video post.

Keep It Short

Just as article readership falls off – not every person that starts your article will finish it –  video viewership falls off as a function of time.

Simply put, keeping your video short and to the point means higher engagement.

According to engagement analytics from Wistia, a 1-minute video will get twice as many viewers as a 2-minute video. And the longer your video, the more quickly, and substantially, you’ll lose viewers:


The psychological impact of length is amplified for video viewership. Just as dropping an item’s price from $10.00 to $9.99 improves sales, dropping a 2:03 video to 1:58 will improve engagement.

Keep It Simple

We sometimes forget how familiar we are with our own company and products. They become so second nature to us, that we sometimes expect our target audience to know more than they actual will.

So, when speaking to your audience through video, keep the language simple. Those esoteric industry terms might make you look smart, but confusing your viewers is a surefire way to get them to abandon your content. Don’t assume people know everything about your turbo encabulator:

Put A Face To A Name

It might sound cliché, but one of the advantages of video is giving a face to your company. But this idea is really shorthand for a bigger idea that we so often overlook in digital: humanizing your content. As we spend more of our day-to-day life in the digital world, seeing a face on-screen is comforting and engaging.

For your next video, get a person in front of the camera! Even if you’re shooting a product tutorial, or posting a webinar, starting your video with a quick, five-second “bumper” can really make it stand out from the dull, screencasts that we see across the web. Here’s an example from one of our own Outbrain product tutorials on our targeting capabilities:

Here’s an example from one of our own Outbrain product tutorials on our targeting capabilities:

Optimize For Your Platform

We all know Facebook to be a great platform for video content, but before you get shooting, there are a few things to consider:

  1. On Facebook, more than anywhere, make your content short. Social media users are casual browsers looking for bite-sized content, not those showing intent to engage with your brand. According to multiple studies on Facebook video, it’s best to keep your videos between 30 and 45 seconds.
  2. The default audio setting for Facebook is muted, i.e. users need to actively enable sound to your video. And so not surprisingly, a recent report shows that 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound. Because of this, let on-screen text or captions narrate your video. BuzzFeed, Insider, and NowThis are all masters of this craft.
  3. As of early 2015, Facebook started to favor native videos over those uploaded to YouTube. Native videos – those uploaded directly to Facebook – reach 2x times more people, get almost 3x more shares, and 7x more comments.

Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention the other dominant player in the video game: YouTube.

To optimize for this video giant, here’s another list of considerations detailed in Outbrain’s post on “9 Advanced Tactics For Promoting Your YouTube Channel.”

These tactics can be useful in getting the right eyes on your video. After all, creating video content takes time and is resource-consuming, so getting that first click to engagement should always be top of mind.

Check out our complete guide to online video advertising!

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