The tiny experiment that caused my Facebook reach to explode over 1500%

Over the weekend I started experimenting with social video. Creating square videos for social media.

I had heard that square videos take up 78% more real-estate in a person’s mobile newsfeed.

And more importantly, increase completion rates by 67%.

No point creating a video that only gets watched to the 3-second mark.

That’s not an engaged or targeted audience and will do ‘Jack’ for your business.

This year, and especially after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. I found my reach on Facebook had fallen off a cliff.

Reach down. Engagement down.

I was also hearing that people were leaving Facebook in droves and jumping to Instagram and other platforms.

So I decided to see if I could make Instagram work.

I spent two months creating good content (or so I thought).

Spent hours writing and creating the images for the posts.

I didn’t just slap up any old thing like most folks do.

When I post I usually offer how-to content. Little snippets of what I think is valuable information for my audience.

I’m not one for promoting myself as the main focus point on social media.

I’m too old and dumpy to look ‘beautiful’ on Instagram, so I stick with posting high quality, high-content posts.

I’ve never taken a selfie in my life.

I find the whole ‘cult of self’, just yuck. Maybe I’m too old to get it.

After two months of posting to Instagram and Facebook at various times of the day, and days of the week, I gave up.

“Fuck social”, I thought.

It was no longer giving me the exposure I was used to getting.

Especially when you consider the amount of time it was taking me to manage my social media posts.

So I stopped.

Deleted all social media apps from my phone, and removed myself from it for a few weeks.

Instead, I went back to what I knew worked.

Content marketing. Buying advertising.

I have over 15,000 people on my mailing list. So I am never far away from my audience.

Then this weekend, I decided to test square videos (1:1 ratio) using just photos, text and music.

No selfie videos. Just educational content.

Because Instagram only allows a maximum of 60-seconds, I decided to use this as my barometer.

Note: Instagram have just launched IGTV which now allows videos up to 60 minutes long. But it’s a different beast.

60-second videos meant I had to get really clear on what I was trying to communicate, and more importantly, so I didn’t waste my audience’s time!

How often have you watched a video and said to yourself… “get to the point!”

So I created a little 60-second square video about Yarrow, and it’s traditional medicinal uses. And posted it to Facebook and Instagram. (Those links take you to the actual video on my networks).

I then powered down my computer and went off foraging.

Creating the video, posting and sharing it took no longer than 30 minutes.

Remember I was new to the social video creation software I use, so factor in ‘learning curve’ time and that’s pretty damn good.

I’ve now got the production, posting and sharing down to around 15-20 minutes for each video.

So the next morning I opened up my computer and took a look at the stats for each post.

I was gobsmacked. Stunned.

“What the hell have I just done?”, I said to myself.

The results were staggering…

Facebook posts increase reach using video

I knew that video was becoming massive. I just hadn’t quite got how massive it was becoming.

The usual problem I had been having (along with everyone else) with my Facebook posts was this.

If you have a link in your post pointing to your website (to get traffic and leads) then Facebook will penalise you.

Your reach (the number of folks that would see your posts) will take a dive.

What I had just found out, was that having a link within the post when using video didn’t seem to make one jot of difference to my reach.

In fact, the engagement on Facebook just exploded…

After two days of experimenting, I decided that if “time is money”, I will never post anything on social media apart from video again.

I am serious when I say that.

Video is the future. And video on mobile devices has just gone stupid.

So you need to get that in your head when coming up with ideas for your videos.

Making my social videos using the service I do…

(more on who they are in a moment)

… takes me less time than making image posts.

Everything is housed under one roof with this service.

Providing I have access to the internet, I can create these videos on the go.

I don’t need to be chained to my computer.

In my work as an ethnobotanical researcher and foraging teacher, I travel a lot…

… being tied behind a computer all the time is not part of the job spec.

Another huge time-saving bonus is this.

No longer do I need to deal with the hassle of rendering the video files on my computer.

Then spending yonks uploading the files to Facebook or Instagram.

The social video service is online. It does all that for me, behind the scenes.

That’s a massive saving of my time.

Why 60-second videos are important

It was a deliberate decision to make my social videos under 60 seconds.

It meant I had to get really focused and provide massive value to the viewer without wasting their time.

One of my beefs with video creators, is they are often so full of themselves and narcissistic that a huge amount of video is the speaker waffling inanities.

As more and more video gets uploaded, the viewer’s time is becoming more precious and pressured.

So get your message over in short snippets. Get to the point!

This is just good old fashioned respect for your audience.

Another point to make clear is that most videos I watch don’t need to be videos.

They could easily be a podcast. And 9 times out of 10, the video can be listened to instead of watched.

Bear that in mind. It’s important!

Remember: You are not important. The viewer (potentially a future client) needs to be first and foremost at the front of your mind. This is about them. Not about you.

So what’s the social media video creation service I use?

Buy me a coffee and a sandwich and I’ll tell you.

It’s that simple.

If the company offered an affiliate programme, I would link to their service. But they don’t.

For the price of a coffee and sandwich, you can have your social media posts explode too.