Only a few years ago, in 2013, video was released for the first time on Instagram. Today, the platform—and every other social channel—is flooded with videos.
Exposed to so many videos today, social media users aren’t as easily impressed as they were when video was first released. A low-quality, boring video might have gotten a decent number of views and likes on social media a few years ago. But now that people are inundated with videos on social media, expectations have risen.
It’s not that people don’t love videos anymore—over 500 million people watch video on Facebook every day. But with greater competition, companies have to work harder to make their videos engaging and memorable.
We’ve broken down the key areas to focus on when creating a social video. With these tips, tricks, and resources, you’ll be set to make videos that grab users’ interest even in the most cluttered feeds.
1. Assume there’s no sound.
Audio is a powerful way to add context and emotion to a video, but you can’t assume viewers will be listening on social media. Up to 85 percent of videos on social media are watched without sound.
Audio used to be automatically removed by Facebook and Instagram, which would instantly play videos without audio. But they recently switched to including audio with video if a user has the volume turned on. Even with this change, many users still prefer to switch their settings back to soundless videos for a less intrusive experience.
Given this trend, it’s better to assume your video will be played without audio. Create your social video so it can be appreciated without sound and you’ll be able to engage more users. Here are a few ways to create videos that are still compelling without sound:
- Communicate your message with visuals. You want to make sure that imagery conveys the stories and ideas you want to get across, since users might not have audio.
- Add captions. If you have a voice over on your video, you should consider including captions. Visuals alone might not communicate everything you’re trying to get across, and captions can convey essential information to hearing impaired viewers and other people watching your video without sound. Many social channels will auto-generate captions for you to modify. Or you can purchase a closed caption file from sites like 3 Play Media or Rev.com. You can also consider adding text to your video in a visually appealing way:
- Include an audio clip. Sound adds another layer of emotion that visuals and text can’t always capture. Including audio is a powerful way to supplement your video’s content for viewers who do choose to listen. Use visuals and text to compel viewers to watch your video with sound.
2. Target your customers’ favorite channels.
Uploading a video is relatively easy, so why not share your video on every single platform? It seems like you’d get more traffic by posting your video widely. But that may not be true for your business. Social media video distribution is more powerful when it’s targeted and oriented toward quality. If you try to share on too many channels, you’ll be less able to refine each video and strategize sharing for each platform.
You’re better off saving your energy for strategizing on your customers’ favorite channels. Think about the qualities of your key buyers to guess which social media platforms they prefer. Here are a few qualities of popular channels to help you decide:
- Facebook is the most popular social media platform and caters to a wide range of ages. If your audience is above 35, Facebook is probably the best platform for your videos. 60-90 second videos tend to be ideal, but short advertisements and longer stories can also be successful.
- Instagram users skew young—73 percent are between ages 15 and 35. Videos on Instagram are limited to 60 seconds. Instagram Stories are limited to 15 seconds. Read Wistia’s tips for creating Instagram Stories for your business.
- Snapchat‘s portion of young users is even greater, with 85 percent falling between the ages of 18 and 34.
- YouTube is a good place to upload your how-to and informational videos. Although active YouTube subscribers tend to be younger, if you add the right keywords, descriptions, and tags, your audience will be able to locate your video from a Google search. YouTube audiences have a slightly longer attention span for videos between two and nine minutes.
- LinkedIn is for a more professional business crowd. While LinkedIn roles out new video features, most businesses will need to post a YouTube video link in order for a video to play in a LinkedIn feed.
- Twitter audience demographics vary greatly by business, but do skew younger. Videos on Twitter are limited to 140 seconds.
Targeting your customers’ favorite channels gives you more time and energy to strategically share your videos rather than wasting your efforts on multiple channels that are less popular for your business.
3. Pick the right shape and size.
Users won’t engage with your videos on social media if they can’t see them correctly. To make sure your video is being presented correctly, familiarize yourself with the different video spec guidelines for every social media platform. Check out iStock’s guide to make sure your videos are sized for every platform.
Beyond required specs, think about which shapes are ideal for the viewing experience you’re targeting.
- Landscape videos are great for YouTube because its player is designed for horizontal videos.
- Square videos are great for social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) that are typically viewed on mobile.
- Vertical videos are great for social media platforms that are exclusively mobile, like Snapchat and Instagram Stories.
Because social media channels have different settings for appearance, you can only engage users if you size and format your videos correctly.
4. Make your video the ideal length.
With more distractions than ever, the key to engagement is picking the right video length. When videos are more than a few minutes long, users typically lose focus and stop watching.
The ideal length depends on the platform, since users have different watch-time expectations for each channel. Here is the ideal video length for each platform:
- Instagram: 30 seconds
- Twitter: 45 seconds
- Facebook: 1 minute
- YouTube: 2 minutes
Staying close to these suggested lengths, especially when you first get started, will make it easier to retain viewers’ attention with your videos.
5. Strive for professional quality.
Users expect polished videos—high quality has become a social media standard. All types of companies have produced professional videos for social media with today’s accessible tools.
There is so much budget-friendly software out there to build outstanding animated and live-action videos at a low cost. Here are a few tools to consider:
- Vyond, a video creation platform that makes it possible to tell simple or complex stories with templates and animated characters that automatically lip-sync to your voice.
- Shakr, a video maker for social media videos.
- Soapbox by Wistia, a Chrome extension that seamlessly combines your webcam and screen recordings.
- Animoto, a tool to quickly create photo slide shows with text.
Once viewers can rely on you to publish high-quality videos, they’ll keep coming back to your social media channels for more.
6. Focus on the beginning.
Carefully crafting the beginning of your video is essential. Instead of presenting a thumbnail image, most social media platforms will automatically start a video as a user scrolls past it. If your video doesn’t engage viewers in those first few seconds, they’ll scroll past and abandon it.
Here are a few tips to make the first few seconds of your video count:
- Carefully pick the very first image. The first shot of your video is the initial impression users get of your video on platforms that don’t use thumbnails, so make sure it’s attention-grabbing.
- Consider readability when choosing a color scheme. Make sure your background color contrasts with your text and main images so viewers know where to focus.
- Get to the point. The faster you can convey your message, the more users you’ll be able to engage.
Make the beginning of your video worthwhile to viewers and they’ll be motivated to stick around and watch to the end.
7. Include a call to action.
A video on social media can be engaging, thoughtful, and well-made—but if viewers don’t know how they should act once it’s done playing, they probably won’t reengage with your business.
Show your viewers what you want them to do by including a CTA. By asking your audience to do something, your video will drive the results you want, whether that’s more subscribers or greater sales.
Here are a few tips for creating a powerful CTA:
- Include both verbal and visual CTAs. Having both in your video will drive the request even more.
- Design your CTA button to stand out. Use bold, contrasting colors and other design tricks to make the CTA pop.
- Include your CTA earlier in the video. Don’t save your CTA for the end—add it to the beginning to make sure your viewers receive the message.
Adding a clear CTA to your video, whether it’s visual or verbal, will give your viewers the extra push they need to engage with your business.
Take the Time to Create a Standout Social Video
Videos are no longer novel on social media—every business is releasing video as a part of their social strategy to boost user engagement. With so many videos on every feed, it takes a lot of planning and effort to create a social video that stands out. To boost engagement, make sure your video is visually appealing; has a clear, actionable message; and is targeted to your customers.
These tips for creating captivating social videos are just the starting point. Once you’ve published your videos on different platforms, monitor their performance so you can track which videos get the most engagement. From there, you can start to determine what aspects of your videos perform especially well with users and should be used again in the future.
Vyond allows people of all skill levels in all industries and job roles to create dynamic and powerful media. With features that go beyond moving text and images, you can build character-driven stories or compelling data visualizations that engage audiences and deliver results.
With Vyond, it’s easy to create video for your social media marketing. Start a free 14-day trial and sign up for our weekly webinar.