University Marketing & Communications

August 23, 2016

How autoplay is changing social media


In the last few years, Facebook has made changes to its News Feed layout that have had surprisingly large implications for marketers. One of the most prominent is the autoplay video function. Facebook’s algorithm already favors videos, and with this new function, they are incorporated seamlessly into the News Feed, reaching more people than before. Taking advantage of this change will help you communicate messages and tell stories, but only if your video adds value to your audience’s experience.

What makes an effective autoplay video?

The most important thing to know about autoplay videos is that you have to grab people’s attention — immediately. Here are some tips for how to make the best Facebook autoplay videos:

  • The first three seconds are the most important. Pull viewers in with something that has movement and is eye-catching.
  • Imagery must be vivid in order to get the message across and carry your viewers past the crucial three-second mark.
  • Spell, don’t tell. Add closed captions to your video — most people watch videos without audio — and make sure they’re clear and concise!
  • Keep it simple, as people favor shorter videos on Facebook.
  • Production quality is key in order to add to the News Feed experience. Having a high-quality video will add to the legitimacy of your online presence and encourage viewers to explore your message.

Communication implications

Integrated into the News Feed, the autoplay function is designed for simple storytelling and sharing. Most popular social media sites have embraced the autoplay video function, and Facebook even has a page that features some of the world’s most creative autoplay videos. As long as you are sharing valuable content with your audience, short Facebook videos are the perfect opportunity to promote messages throughout the UW community, so use it to your advantage!

Read up on how autoplay is winning the digital game, and take note of Facebook’s tips on its blog.

—Callie Hamilton