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6 min read

Social Media Advertising: Optimizing Your Video for Facebook Ads

Social Media Advertising: Optimizing Your Video for Facebook Ads

With more than a billion active users, the sheer size of Facebook makes marketers salivate. Take that audience, combine it with advanced user targeting of the ads platform and multiply that by the power of video content, and you’ve got yourself a match made in heaven.

And when you are spending valuable time and resources to create video content for advertising, it’s important to get the best results for your investment. Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t do a great job of guiding you through the optimization process, so we've compiled a list of helpful tips to help you map out the landscape of creating and optimizing video for Facebook Ads.

If you are new to video marketing, we’ve compiled some of the foundational best practices that you should consider. If you’re just looking for specific tips on optimizing your videos, click here to scroll down.

Video Creation Tips for Facebook Ads

Align with Business Goals: First things first, when creating a video to promote and distribute via Facebook, you must align the video with the goals of your business. What is the purpose of the video? Does it align with a larger marketing campaign?

Set Measurable Objectives for Video: In your mind, fast-forward to the end of the campaign. Was it successful or not? How do you know? Trust me on this, you don’t want to walk into your next marketing meeting without answers to these simple questions. Set SMART goals (period).


Provide Value: This is an obvious statement however, you probably aren’t running through the “Is this valuable to our audience?” filter nearly often enough during the video production process.

This goes beyond video; do ALL of your marketing messages provide value, offer information, and inspire action?

As you are attempting to cultivate video ideas that will truly provide value, focus on making a connection on a personal level with your audience. Create videos and stories that show you’re relatable and understand the motivations and challenges of the viewer.

Remember, they’re scrolling through Facebook with the intent to be engaged and entertained.

Showcase Your Brand: It isn’t a sin to have a little bit of fun with your video project. In fact, I’d encourage it! Showcase your organization’s unique personality when creating social videos.

There is an abundance of content available for your target audience to consume on Facebook, don’t make your video fit in with the rest. Show your true colors and your viewers will love you for it.

Immediately Engage Viewers: When Facebook users are scrolling through their newsfeed, they are seeking something to attract their interest. Whether that's cute pictures of friends, interesting news articles, knee-slapping memes or engaging videos. These users can’t afford to spend much time on each that shows up in their feed, they’re conditioned to be selective. This point is meant to illustrate the importance of the first frame of your video. And furthermore, the first 3-5 seconds of your video (autoplay features).

Keep this in mind when planning out your Facebook video project. You need to strive for immediate captivation or they will skip right over you like college students skip classes.

This means no extended intros and no animated logo graphics. Engage people immediately with the story you are telling.  

Pro Tip: Expect viewers to watch your video without sound. It is crucial that you produce a video that has the ability to stand on its own with no audio (yes, you can add captions/subtitles)

Also, consider adding text highlights or “chapters” throughout your video. These can be supplemented for captions and create a more engaging experience for the viewer.

Deliver Your Message in an Appropriate Amount of Time: Everyone likes talking about declining attention spans, I don’t buy it. If you create incredibly engaging content that relates to me on a personal level, I’ll watch your video content for as long as my schedule permits.

Yes, you need to be intentional with your content’s ability to capture the attention of your audience. I already stressed the importance of the first 3-5 seconds of your video, and we will get to the impact of headlines and thumbnails a little later. I’m not saying you don’t have to employ attention-grabbing tactics when promoting your content on Facebook.

Rather, I am referring to the length of your video stories. The duration of the video should be directly correlated with the amount of time necessary to tell your story. I’d encourage you to start with the story or message as opposed to starting with the time. Don’t start a video project by saying “We need a two-minute video to promote our upcoming campaign.”

When you do that, you are restricting the potential power of your video. Does that make sense?

Now, I do have to warn you not to get carried away. There are stats that say there is a significant drop off in average engagement after two minutes (Wistia), however, the content is more important than the length. Tell your story and tell it right. If possible, lean towards shorter rather than longer, but the message should always takes precedence over the duration.

Produce High-Quality Video: I shouldn’t have to tell you this, people will not tolerate low-quality video anymore. For more information on file recommendations for Facebook video, visit Facebook (*insert pithy tone).

Video Optimization Tips for Facebook Ads:

Add Native Video: Upload your video to Facebook. Simple as that.

If you’d like to post video content to Facebook, don’t embed from Youtube, Vimeo or Wistia. It is really quite simple why…

  1. Facebook video has an autoplay feature which has proven to drive more engagement
  2. Facebook tends to favor their own videos when compared to other platforms (in regards to suggested videos and categories)

Pro Tip: Use vertical or square video. Click here or here to learn why and here to learn how

Build a Custom Audience: Who is the target market for the video ad? This is an important step of the optimization/setup process for obvious reasons. You have two options:

  • Target an audience based on information in their Facebook profile (ex. Wedding venues may want to target users with an Engaged Relationship Status).
  • Target an audience based on interactions with your website, Facebook page, or other ads (ex. You may want to boost this post to appear in front of users who’ve visited your website sometime in the last 30 days).

Choose Your Thumbnail Wisely: Facebook users have the ability to disable autoplay if they prefer. With that in mind, be sure to choose a thumbnail that is both engaging and interesting while also accurately setting the stage for your video content.

Create a Persuasive Headline: I’d place the thumbnail and first few seconds of the video in front of the headline in terms of importance, however, the headline is your chance to explain why. “Why should you watch this video?” Tell them why they shouldn’t keep scrolling. Be transparent. Avoid buzzwords and ‘clickbaity’ headlines.

Pro Tip: Test different headlines over the course of the campaign. Especially if you’re doing boosted posts via Facebook Ads. They’ll allow you to do split-tests.

Always Include a Call-to-Action: This is paramount. A CTA is what makes your video content a marketing activity -- even if it’s just a simple “Subscribe to our channel.”


As we discussed earlier, the goal of the video should be to inspire your viewers to take action. This is that highly desirable action you seek to, most likely, generate revenue and prove ROI of the video project. The CTA should be determined before the video is captured; this tip is simply to remind you to add it as a clickable button.  

Pro tip - The CTA ‘click’ isn’t likely to be the end-goal. Often times, you are looking for them to do something after clicking the CTA.

I suggest setting up retargeting campaigns to Facebook users who click your CTA and don’t convert into a lead/customer after getting to your desired destination page. You can do this very easily within Facebook by creating a Custom Audience of users who clicked your ad.

In addition, you can set up retargeting to Custom Audiences that view your video and did not click the CTA as well (viewed for 3 second or longer).

Write an Informative Description: Unlike the headline, I see the description as less of a representation of the video content, but rather an explanation of the offer/call to action. This is your real estate to supplement and support the CTA. Why should they click?

Don’t get caught describing what the video is about. If you’ve done a good job creating the content (refer to Facebook Video Creation Tips above), you don’t have to do that with the description.

Add Captions: As earlier mentioned, it’s important to expect that viewers will watch your video without sound. This wisdom forces you to add captions to run with your Facebook video.

Facebook will populate captions automatically if you’re setting up a Facebook Ad. Please be sure to proof and make revisions as technology is far from perfect.

*If you’re not building an ad, you’ll have to add the captions yourself. I’d suggest doing this during the editing phase of the video project (post-production).

What Comes Next?

So you’ve followed the tips and executed your campaign. Now what?

Measure, refine, repeat. I’m going to make up a quick stat and say that 99% of the time, the first ad you setup and launch will not be your most successful post in terms of reach, engagement, conversion and ROI. Analyze your campaign on a weekly basis, interpret the data and make adjustments. Newsflash, that’s not a Facebook video optimization tip, that’s Marketing 101.

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