3 Lessons that Recipe Videos Taught Us About Social Engagement

Published on Jun 1st, 2016

by Jack Weinstein

The popularity of recipe videos on Facebook is undeniable. Through Q1 2016, four recipe producers were among the 25 most-engaged brands on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And 24% of the year’s top posts are recipe videos.

We wanted to find out why they were so successful and whether we could apply those lessons to brands across social. So we did. Here are the three reasons for recipe videos’ success that you should duplicate today.

  1. Stay Native

Produce content optimized for the platform where it will appear. BuzzFeed started by producing Tasty videos for Instagram, which limited videos at the time to 15 seconds (now 60 seconds), but they didn’t “blow up” until moving over to Facebook.

Tasty’s recipe videos succeed because they’re formatted specifically for Facebook mobile. The videos are square and they play automatically without sound as you scroll through the News Feed. The on-screen instructions allow you to watch anytime, anywhere while still getting step-by-step directions.

Try ignoring them. It’s. Just. Not. Possible.

Tasty is the most-engaged recipe video producer on social and it’s Churro Ice Cream Bowls is its top post with more than 5 million actions (likes, comments and shares). That post is also among the most-shared and watched videos year to date on Facebook. Only Chewbacca Mom has been shared more often.

Shares are so important because they amplify messaging, which means they generate more impressions for brands.

  1. Keep it Short and Simple

But not too short. Most recipe videos are capped at about a minute.

Recipe videos have succeeded because the steps are easy to follow and replicate. Most are a handful of ingredients and many are one-pan or slow cooker creations making them more accessible to the audience for whom they’re meant to attract: young people who may not like to cook.

"We want people to be able to watch the video and feel like they can pull it off at home," Andrew Gauthier, creative director of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, which produces the Tasty recipe videos, told CBS This Morning .

While simplicity has been a key to video recipe success, Tastemade has found success with its Tiny Kitchen Series. They're not traditional video recipes—adult hands prepare dishes fit for a Barbie—but they're easy to follow. These also break the brevity rule. They’re each about two minutes, except for the Facebook Live edition of Tiny Kitchen , which featured the preparation of a mini cheeseburger over 13 wonderfully intricate minutes.

The attention to detail is almost incomprehensible, which is part of the video’s attraction. How can one person have that much patience? It can’t be easy trying to spoon individual pieces of rice onto a tiny plate.

  1. Make it Visually Appealing

It sounds obvious, but the better something looks, the more appealing it seems. And it doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive.

The best example is one of the most-engaged Facebook video since 2013. Tip Hero’s baked apple roses video included the description: " Almost too Beautiful to Eat. ALMOST!" It's true. They're as visually appealing as they are appetizing (we assume). The video generated nearly 8.7 million actions and more than 267 million views and was the top overall Facebook post of 2015. And it was simple. It only had six ingredients and included a handful of instructions that just about anyone could follow.

"The presentation tends to be one of the main reasons people get very excited about the video itself," Oren Katzeff, head of programming at Tastemade, told USA Today . "It looks like a true food piece of art."

BuzzFeed Food generated nearly 3.4 million actions and 131 million views with its Magic Chocolate Ball. It succeeded by showing the viewer the finished product first: the white chocolate ball literally disappearing from the heat of the milk chocolate sauce to reveal ice cream and brownies below. It really is mesmerizing.

If you're not already producing social video, it's time to start. Video content is 3x more likely to be shared than the most-engaged non-video posts and Facebook Live content has generated 10x more comments than recorded video.

Whether you're a consumer brand, automaker, retailer or even a publisher, you can apply these lessons to your video content. They should help you get started engaging your audience through video.

Want to find out what drives engagement for the top Consumer Food and Grocery brands? Download our most recent webinar.

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