Twitter Conducts New Study into the Key Elements of Effective Video on the Platform
What kind of video content works best for generating memory encoding and mental response on Twitter?
Okay, you may not have been wondering this exact question, but the underlying detail is relevant.
Twitter recently conducted a study with Omnicom Media Group where they used neuroscience to measure the brain activity of 127 Twitter users as they browsed their timelines and responded to different media - with video being the specific focus.
And what they found was interesting, particularly in the context of wider video trends - here are the key results of their research.
1. "Brand video on Twitter works"
Probably an expected finding - Twitter aren't likely to publish a study saying there's no point using their products. But the notes here offer some additional data points - for example, Twitter video elicited a high response rates for memory encoding, personal relevance and emotional intensity, all of which correlate with increased purchase intent.
Twitter says these figures "outperform online video norms", though there's no comparison to judge against.
Twitter also notes that they identified "similar levels of response to brand video as for general Twitter activity" - meaning users don't differentiate between promotional video content and the other tweet content they see.
And the researchers also identified that videos which autoplay within the timeline generated slightly higher memory responses versus those watched in full-screen mode - which is interesting considering the latter is a more immersive, and is generally considered a more impactful user experience.
"This viewing experience is impactful for brands who also benefit from branding and Tweet copy being visible."
The findings underline that video clearly has a place on Twitter, and that Twitter users are receptive to it, but their extended data points reveal even more about how to create more effective Twitter video content.
2. "You need less time on Twitter and a sound-off strategy is key"
The neural response data also showed that:
"Shorter videos of 15 seconds or less are more likely than videos of 30 seconds to drive memory encoding. This is specific to Twitter as TV sees the opposite trend with 30 seconds being most effective vs. shorter formats."
That's interesting, particularly as Facebook is now actively looking to increase the reach of longer video posts (or at least, boost the reach potential by switching the algorithm to favor longer watch time).
The data here shows shorter video messaging is more effective via tweet, which may, in part, be due to the fast-paced, real-time nature of the platform, and also because we've trained ourselves, over time, to only expect shorter video content within our tweet stream through the use of both Vine (RIP) and Twitter video, which is restricted to 140 seconds in length (boosted from 30 seconds back in June).
Twitter attributes it to "scrolling behaviors":
"The nature of scrolling behaviors means less time is needed on Twitter to capture attention and make an impact."
This is an important consideration for marketers looking to maximize their video performance on Twitter - longer is not necessarily better. Individual results will vary, but worth noting and testing out in your own messaging.
Twitter also notes that both personal relevance and memory encoding were at the same level whether sound was on or off in the first three seconds of a video - but when a user chooses to watch the whole video, the sound definitely does play a bigger part.
3. "Changes in receptivity can be harnessed"
The researchers also found that Twitter users are more receptive to video when they begin a session on the platform.
"The first video seen in the timeline generates, on average, a 22% uplift across all metrics versus all subsequent videos viewed."
Twitter says this finding supports the effectiveness of their First View video ad option, which gives a video top placement for 24 hours.
Twitter also noted that differences in the time of day impacted on a video's effectiveness.
"In the morning, Twitter is most likely to elicit a feeling of personal relevance and generate detail-oriented memory encoding. Later in the day a more emotional / bigger picture memory response is seen. This means there is a great opportunity for brands to align content with these different mindsets. For example brands should think about sharing tips and useful information during the morning."
4. "There are drivers of thumb-stopping"
And the final element of Twitter's new study looked at how various video elements related to retention of information and mental response.
Twitter says an early story arc in a video lead to a 58% increase in a user viewing beyond that first three seconds. That's not surprising - if you want people watch you need to invite them in - but it does provide additional motivation to focus on story over product shots.
Topical content is also popular on Twitter, with topical themed videos seeing a 32% increase in extended views, and an 11% increase in completion rate.
The presence of people in your Twitter videos is also a factor, with emotional response increasing 133% when videos showed people in the first three seconds.
And subtitles are also important - "videos with text are 11% more likely to be viewed and generate 28% higher completion rates". Facebook has reported similar with their video content, with internal testing showing that captioned video ads increase video view time by an average of 12%.
These are some interesting findings, and will definitely have an impact on Twitter video strategies. As noted, individual results can - and will - vary, so it's hard to put a blanket ruling on any specific measure. But the data is based on neurological response, not stated preference, which does give these insights additional precedence in terms of their effect.
Either way, the insights provide some new considerations, and some new measures to try out in your own strategy.
You can read the full Twitter video study here.
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