Dierdre Mills Thu Feb 6, 2014

To celebrate its 10-year anniversary this week, Facebook released ‘Look Back’ videos – personalized videos that compile and highlight users’ biggest moments on the site. This feature created a ton of buzz among the Facebook community with hundreds of millions of videos rendered (and its been blowing up my news feed for the past 36 hours!), but it’s not the first of its kind. Both Instagram and Google released similar features at the end of 2013 entitled Year in Review; Vizify developed a video tool that compiles Twitter users’ top photos, tweet topics, stats, and followers; and the NFL recently introduced NFL Now, a personalized video service that allows fans to view NFL news, analysis and highlights of favorite teams and players.

With over 200M video views to date, SundaySky can attest to the power of personalized video and we’re thrilled to see that companies are leveraging it to engage with users and customers! It’s a definite step in the right direction, as features like this get people comfortable with the idea that their content will increasingly be delivered in a personalized manner – a trend that will continue to grow over time.

I asked a handful of our SmartVideo experts for their reaction to Facebook’s ‘Look Back’ videos, and this is what they had to say:

“In its own way, Facebook’s ‘Look Back’ videos is acknowledging SundaySky’s vision, in which our fast-paced, visual society looks for dynamic ways to absorb personally interesting information.” – Rachel, Marketing Manager

“People love to live in the moment – whether that moment is from the past or happening as we speak. That’s why things like Facebook’s ‘Look Back’ and the personalized videos that SundaySky makes are engaging and attractive to viewers. You can watch static videos anywhere about anything, but your attention drifts and it’s more challenging (as a brand) to create a lasting effect on that viewer. With SmartVideo or a tool like Instagram’s “Year in Review,” you are putting the person in the video and making it harder for them to press the pause button and easier for them to press the share (or action) button. You are ultimately making them feel like their information and details matter. You are ultimately creating value.” – Jen, Copywriter

“The widespread promotion of Facebook’s video capability will make what we do more familiar and will raise a lot of questions such as, ‘What’s the difference between what Facebook does and what SundaySky is doing?’ We encourage brands to ask us these questions because SmartVideo does so much more than just personalization.” – Diana, Sales Director

“Facebook’s ‘Look Back’ videos are nicely done with very emotional music, solid editing and good pace. It’s a great experience the first time you create your own, and fun to watch a couple of your friends’ versions. To me, the biggest drawback is once you see more than 2 or 3 of these, you realize that they all look exactly the same template-wise: they’re the same length and structure, include the same amount of photos, and don’t offer editorial personalization. It becomes repetitive after a while, especially as these take over everyone’s Facebook feeds.” – Guy, VP Creative

Not all personalized videos are created equal. While we applaud Facebook for its efforts, we believe that these videos could have incorporated a handful of our tried-and-true SmartVideo elements to enhance the overall experience. If Facebook had approached us on how to strengthen their personalized videos, we would have shared these tips:

  • These videos are personalized, but not necessarily relevant for all users. The Facebook population is incredibly diverse, and while many people use Facebook to post videos and status updates, others might use it for sharing articles, following companies, or playing games. The video should play based on the user’s behavior or persona. If, for example, I spend all my time on Facebook playing Candy Crush and sharing articles from The Onion (and never share photos or status updates), then my video should reflect that fact. My video might highlight the highest Candy Crush levels I’ve completed, when I started playing the game and my most-discussed article shares.
  • Batch video generation (meaning, the video is created in advance of a user clicking to play the video) is a sub-optimal way of generating video content. If users come back a few months, or even a year later, there is an expectation that the information will be updated, but that’s not the case with batch videos. Real-time videos ensure that the most up-to-date information is being presented at the time a viewer clicks to play.
  • Incorporate interactivity within the video, such as the ability to click back and revisit your favorite posts, photos, and shares. These trips down memory lane bring back a lot of memories – let people indulge in them by offering the ability to click back to particular moments in time to read comments, likes, and shares.

So, the next time you’re looking to create personalized videos for your 1.2 billion users, call us, Facebook. We’re happy to help.

What do you think? Did you create a ‘Look Back’ video? Do you anticipate Facebook will continue this trend, and perhaps enhance it, to continue to engage users?


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