Over the last few years, social media has been commandeered by video content.
Most social networks are getting increasingly more video-centric by the day (have you opened your Facebook or Instagram recently?), and new platforms are emerging entirely based around this type of content — (think TikTok, which is 100% centennial territory).
That’s why you see so many brands jumping on the bandwagon, and working with skilled video companies to create tailored pieces for social media. As video gives them a powerful tool to stay relevant and stand out in the competitive social game.
However, creating with “social” in mind is an entirely different beast compared to other types of video productions. It presents many challenges that would have your content underperform and under-deliver on your expectations. There’s plenty that can go wrong!
So, to keep that from happening to your social media marketing strategy, let’s go over some key principles to mind for your next social video piece!
Create Videos with Your Audience & Platform in Mind
The first rule of social video making? Know your audience, and the medium in which you’ll reach them.
When planning these kinds of pieces, you need to have a clear idea of who you are trying to appeal to. Doing so will not only help you shape the content itself but can also inform which platform should be your priority.
Go where your audience is, learn the lingo and the customs of the platform they favour and adapt your message to them. Choose the topics that they’re interested in. Speak to your audience, not at them.
Do it right, and you’ll have more people engaged, feeling that your message especially resonates with them, and they’ll be far more interested in your brand and what it has to say.
Choose ‘Social-Media-Worthy’ Topics
Not all subject matters work the same on all social media platforms.
Some catch your audience’s attention in an instant, while others will pass unnoticed most of the time. How do you know which is which?
I’m sad to say there’s no magic way. Social media listening tools are a good asset to have handy, and few things beat keeping your ear to the ground. A good rule of thumb is to try and tie your content around fresh trends, relevant to your audience’s tastes – and do so in short, digestible snippets.
If your content is fresh, it’ll be easier to capture your audience’s short attention span. Content posted on social platforms have very short lifespans, so learning to ride the waves can be invaluable.
If your content delivers value, it’ll be relevant and of interest to your target audience. Your job as a content creator is precisely puzzling out where your audience’s interests lie and catering to them.
And, if you make your pieces concise, you’ll increase the number of people that stay with them all the way through, improving metrics and performance.
Also, don’t chase “shareable”! Great content will be shared; bad content won’t. It really is that simple. And the differences hinge on the quality you put forth, and the audience you are targeting.
The Shorter, The Better
An important point to cover, especially after having mentioned the issue of attention spans.
The “acceptable” length for videos varies from platform to platform. However, all things considered, shorter videos tend to perform better than longer ones when it comes to social media marketing.
Nine times out of ten, you’ll want to stay under the two-minute mark. And there are plenty of video marketing stats out there backing that data up.
On Instagram, the ideal length is about 30 seconds (26 seconds to be exact, according to HubSpot). On Twitter, you shouldn’t pass the 45-second mark, and on Facebook, you can get up to one minute to get the highest engagement rates.
In any case, keep your social videos short and sweet, and you’ll get the most out of them!
Structure Your Video for Social
Making your content social-media-friendly isn’t just about topic selection and length. It’s also about its structure and understanding the importance of the beginning.
A good structure should keep your audience hooked from beginning to end, or at least make sure your video can perform well even if most people only watch part of it.
It’s why we put the most crucial part of your message during the first few seconds in a social video, for example. It’s a convention that grew out of the fact that most people probably won’t watch it all the way through.
Don’t feel bad about it, though — it’s just the nature of social video. It happens even to the best cat videos out there!
Forget about suspense. Structure your piece around putting the core of your message at the start, and then continue with progressive delivery of information and value. Paying off the promises you set up to hook viewers at the start, and that’s key!
If you manage to keep your audience hooked, they’ll watch it all – great! If not, at least they’ll take the most critical piece of your message with them before they leave. A win either way!
Always Upload Natively
On Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, native videos get more shares than embedded ones.
These platforms prioritize content uploaded on their sites, to keep people in their ecosystems instead of sending them to watch content on external sites like YouTube or Vimeo. This means that their algorithms will give more exposure to videos uploaded natively, appearing more often on suggested timelines or higher in feeds.
On top of that, you should also consider auto-play and how it can impact exposure. Auto-play and watch-and-scroll features only work with native content, helping you increase engagement and view counts.
So, unless you have a good reason not to, try and upload all your social media videos into the platform you want to deploy them on.
Your Copy Needs to Shine Too
If you’ve ever uploaded anything on social media (and, come on, of course you have. It’s 2019,) you’ve noticed that the visuals never go by themselves – they’re always accompanied by useful text too.
The copy – titles, descriptions, hashtags – is there to give your audience some context, additional information, and help your content’s performance through SEO.
Now, every social platform is different — you can’t write as much on Twitter as you would on Facebook. But each platform has its formats and ways in which you can use copy to power-up your video content, and you should take advantage of them every time.
On Twitter and Instagram, keep it short and include relevant hashtags (without overdoing it!) On LinkedIn and Facebook, you can write a longer text, something that’s shareable delivers more value/context on top of the video, and even use CTAs. Be creative!
Polish Those Thumbnail and First-frames Like Gems
Are you aware of how important the first few frames of a video are? Probably not, at least, not consciously. Most people tend to underestimate how vital these are, and even some marketers neglect them!
Optimizing the first few frames of a video is vital for two main reasons:
- The first frame is often the one that gets set as the thumbnail by default, appearing on your users’ feeds while the post is loading.
- Even if you set a custom thumbnail, most people will choose to either watch or ignore your piece based around the first few seconds of a vid, which are often played without sound (more on this later.)
And still, you don’t need to scroll down too much on most timelines to find at least a few that are left blank, or devoid of eye-catching visuals. You only get to make one first impression, and blank, boring initial frames are an excellent way to lose views.
In social media marketing terms, losing views means losing impressions and, potentially, sales. If you’re not making people stop and pay attention, your audiences will scroll on and leave your content behind.
So make sure that both your video’s thumbnail and first frames have relevant information and attention-grabbing visuals. It sounds like a minor thing, but it’s an incredibly powerful detail to account for.
Use Captions and Text Overlays
Most interactions on social media happen on mobile phones. What does this mean?
Your audience is probably coming in contact with your videos while just checking their feeds on the go. Maybe while commuting, or when they’re trying to ignore the fact that they’re at a very, very boring conference, and they can’t turn the sound on.
That’s why you need to make sure that your message goes through, even without sound! Moreover, you are making your content more inclusive by ensuring you’ll reach a broader segment of your audience.
Text overlays are another cool, interactive way of doing this as well, giving you another tool also to stress the important parts of your message. It works better for some types of videos than others (for example, it works like a charm on short explainer videos on your timelines), so, keep and implement overlays when possible.
Use text strategically. If you do, you may not even need a voiceover to get your message through.
We mentioned this in passing before, but including a call to action in your piece is crucial if you want your video to drive concrete marketing results, and deserves its own entry.
At the end of the day, these types of videos are an investment, just like any other kind of marketing effort. And that means that you need to see concrete returns. You capitalize on your content by including CTAs at different stages of the piece, depending on the video, and driving people to action.
Your audience needs to be told what to do next — whether it is buying your product, following your account or sharing your content, depends on your marketing goals, but there should always be a goal and a CTA to match it.
So, make your CTAs clear and easy to follow, and you’ll reap many more benefits from your piece.
Wrapping Things Up
Yes, social videos are a great way to engage with your audience and connect with them! BUT, even a flawless piece that’s not optimized for social can make your efforts go to waste.
Make sure to tailor your video (and the context in which you upload it) to this social media world, to reach the people you want it to reach.
Start leveraging your social media platforms with content that lives up to its potential! Use social videos in your next marketing push – the right way! – and get ready for those metrics to skyrocket.