Idea Blog

PICK OF THE WEEK: Facebook Best Practices (explainer video)

Blake Harris 03.10.2016

The prevalence of social media is more than just a reality; nowadays, it’s a necessity. But given the short history of even the most popular social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter) as well as their quickly evolving nature, it can be hard to be aware of all the DO’s and the DONT’s. To help bring light to this issue, and direct users towards more information, Facebook has released a beautiful Best Practices video, which we’ve selected as our PICK OF THE WEEK.

This explainer video was produced and directed by a Kentucky-based animation studio called The Furrow, with animation by creative director Seth Eckert (@seth_eckert) & Allen Laseter (@Lasetat). Although the name Seth Eckert might not immediately ring a bell, some of his recent work almost certainly would. Eckert was part of the team at Facebook that recently introduced the “Reactions” to supplement the Like button:

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If you’re interested in learning more about Facebook’s Reactions, Liz Stinson over at WIRED recently wrote a great article. Here, however, we wanted to shine a light on another one of Facebook’s aesthetically impressive debuts. So let’s take a closer look at the Best Practices video that Facebook recently released in conjunction with International Women’s Day (March 8th):

Credits: 

  • Produced by The Furrow
  • Directed by The Furrow
  • Animations by Seth Eckert & Allen Laseter
  • Designs by Timo Kuilder
  • Sound Design by Ambrose Yu
  • Original Score by AJ Hochhalter

3 Things We Loved About This Explainer Video:

1. Off Color, But Not Off Brand: Before playing this video, I figured that the color motif would veer towards Facebook’s familiar grays and blues. Instead, however, the explainer video features a lot of greens and yellows. In many instances, that kind of decision could easily lead to video that feels distant and unrelated to the underlying brand (something that might be especially regrettable when dealing with a brand that has as much leverage as Facebook). But with Best Practices, that was not the case. In fact, it’s quite likely, that the exact opposite might be true. Especially when we consider how this explainer is distributed.

Unlike traditional print and television advertisement, this video was distributed on Facebook’s platform. As a result, branding it exactly the same as most Facebook content would have likely only made it more invisible. So this was a way for Best Practices to stand out. Still, though, there is that risk of feeling off brand, right?

There is, certainly. But that’s where stellar execution comes into play. Not only were Eckert and Laseter able to select colors and compositions that complimented Facebook’s traditional look, but they were also able to consistently–and never aggressively (always through the prism of this video’s style)–leverage the most familiar features of the platform.

Such as the fews feed…

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Friend requests…

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And, of course, the iconic logo…

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2. Targets the Target Audience (but Never Alienates Others): Given the release date of this explainer video (International Women’s Day) and the lack of male characters, the target audience here was certainly women. Although Facebook is used by more female than men (according to the Pew Research Center, 77% of adult females use the platform compared to only 66% for men) but even so, men still make up a large percentage of Facebook. As a result, it would likely be beneficial to have a video that could address this audience as well. Especially because the content within the video (and the resource it directs viewers to) is applicable to members of the non-target audience as well.

Herein lies the challenge: How do you create a video that feels as if it were made almost exclusively for a certain audience, yet at the same time does not alienate others? It’s not easy and probably cannot be done with 100% success, but what The Furrow put together comes pretty close to pulling off the trick.

One major way this is accomplished is through the stylization of character. These are indeed all women, but they’re drawn very abstractly, which makes the entire message feel less stiff and specific, but rather more general and relatable.

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Another less explicit way this is accomplished is through what is not seen. The video alludes to harassment from the opposite (via gender choice in unwanted friend requests) but that conflict, or potential conflict, is never shown in real-time narration. If it were, those antagonists would likely feel more like villains (than just unknown strangers) and could slightly alter the way this explainer vide would be perceived.

3. It’s All About the Call: As effective is this video might be, here’s the honest truth: privacy and digital security is a HUGE issue and certainly not something that can be solved in 35 seconds. Recognizing this Eckert and Laseter wisely didn’t try to accomplish that impossible objective. Instead, what they really did was create beautiful, well-manicured teaser that at the least will stick in people’s minds and, at the best, will direct viewers to visit facebook.com/basics to learn more:

Understanding your objective and delivering upon that is the number one thing that an explainer video can do. And with Best Practices, that’s exactly what is achieved.

If you enjoyed this explainer video, you may also enjoy these other animated videos that were amongst our favorites from the past week…

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Adieu (4:21)

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Subconscious (2:02)

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Washington (2:31)

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Ministry of Stories (1:24)

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La Nuit (1:14)

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Infinite Doom- Venture Brothers (0:42)

Blake Harris

Blake Harris

Blake Harris is the author of "Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation."
Blake Harris

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