The 3 Seconds That Will Make or Break Your Social Video

Social feeds are extremely crowded. Photos, news, ads, videos, notifications – users are constantly inundated with content vying for their attention. Even after someone taps “play” on your social video, your content has to keep their attention, and the first three seconds are the most critical. Let’s look at some key elements you and your creative teams can use to make those first few crucial seconds capture and hold attention.

Make it move

Motion is naturally attention grabbing. When things are moving on-screen – whether people, animals, or animation – it naturally draws the eye.

While it’s always ok (and sometimes necessary) to use non-video assets (like still frames or diagrams), be sure to start your videos with moving images. By keeping the eye’s focus with motion, you keep the viewer from being distracted by the deluge of other social content.

Use text and make it pop

Text-overlay is a critical component of social video that you shouldn’t be afraid to use right out of the gate. Sharp overlay in the first few seconds can establish context and expectations for your viewers – this keeps them watching for what they want.

Most importantly, when utilizing that text, make it stand out. Choose stand-out colors that pop against the visual assets in the background. You might even accentuate a key phrase or use an intriguing on-screen title over your assets.

Much like motion, bright, standout colors catch the eye, which in turn keeps attention on your video.

Put people or animals on-screen

The human mind is naturally more immediately stimulated by other living creatures than anything else. So make sure your video starts with something alive!

Our eyes and minds are drawn to other people and to animals, it’s just in our nature as a survival mechanism. On top of this, nowadays, just about everyone loves to see animals (as evidenced by the continued popularity of animal-centric social content).

Equally attention-grabbing are people. Other humans moving, talking, and interacting engages the mind of a viewer, keeping a hold on their attention through that initial period of your video.

Be unpredictable

The Pocket Guide to Social Video

  This one can be tricky, because publishers and media outlets are constrained by the specific subject they’re covering. And not every subject has necessarily thrilling visuals to go with it (consider, for example, a turtle race). But as you are able, throw something surprising at your audience in those first few seconds.

There’s a fine line to walk here, because you don’t want the unpredictable element to suggest your video is about something it’s not. But something sudden and surprising re-captures the initial attention that comes when a viewer taps “play.”

One approach is to frontload the key moment of your video in the first few seconds. NowThis Election uses this approach effectively here, giving their viewers the hot content first, then circling back:


Video creation isn’t available through mobile

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