How to keep your audience engaged


By Marko Leosk.

These are the questions content creators and community managers are constantly facing. The latest stats suggest 85 per cent of Facebook users alone, watch video without sound. Combine this with the five seconds we have to grab our audience’s attention and it makes for an interesting challenge.

I’m no attention saint myself. Often, I find myself scrolling and skipping a lot of video content on my social media feeds. Even the really short ones on my TikTok feed and Instagram stories.

But why are we goldfish? Have we lost interest in everything? Do you we need to recoil in horror to be engaged or smile at absurdity to be intrigued (looking at you click-baiters)?

Well, no.

We just don’t want to watch irrelevant, unoriginal, boring content. I’m sure all of us have seen something in our feeds that does grab our attention and make us tap on that video and watch it. We may even watch it with sound! And sometimes, heavens forbid, we watch it again.

But how do we ensure our content doesn’t get skipped?

GO FISH!

The first few seconds must always have impact. They must make the viewer want to see more. You may have built an amazing three-part narrative with strong talent and stunning high-end  visuals but if it doesn’t set the scene or present a story hook early, you’re going to get swiped. Be smart and connect with your audience. Research shows that saying ‘you’ in the first five seconds of a YouTube video increases views by 66%! Rearrange your narrative if need be. Start with the finish, start with a face or your strongest visual. It has to be instantly relevant. Don't give the fish an option to wiggle around and shake loose.

 

GET COMPETITIVE

Spend some time doing competitive visual research to find your unique approach or angle. Look up companies leading your category or other brands in other industries who you hold in high regard. Visit a few websites and invite the tracking cookies to get hold of you. Go back to YouTube or Facebook and be served with your competitors pre-roll videos to see how they grab attention. Then do something completely different but take note of their structure and techniques, you may notice something you hadn't before.

KNOW THY AUDIENCE

Is your target audience even on Facebook? What are they watching? What are they liking? Find out and cater to them. Targeting to an audience and promoting your posts continues to be more advanced across all major social platforms. Targeting to a niche will ensure the audience who you have specifically made this video for have a better chance of finding relevance in it. Don't waste your ad-spend on general audiences. It might only be a 15 second pre-roll ad, but it's still worth pouring audience insights into it's development.

 

There's plenty we can do from a production point of view whether it's through fashionable transitions or camera trickery to hook audiences in. But so often it comes down to a good, simple idea that's well executed to keep audiences engaged. Otherwise there's always toothpicks.