The Ultimate Guide to Video on Social Media

It isn’t really breaking news that video has become the most important type of content for brands and consumers alike on social media. Favored by ever-changing updates in development and algorithms, giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all putting video at the center of all their services. In the interest of keeping your feeds dynamic and follower-worthy, please observe the following tips:

1. Optimize your content for the platform

Video is not the same across all channels. Keep your video length around 30 seconds to one minute on Facebook and Instagram for a better chance of users viewing your entire message. I would recommend an even shorter video for Twitter; people are scrolling fiends over there. Long-form videos (over two minutes) are more appropriate as website features or posts on YouTube.

Snapchat, on the other hand, is the master of providing a space for people and brands to be creative quickly while on the go. Be sure to take advantage of cool geotags and emoji stickers to make your snaps stand out on this fast-paced channel, which brings me to my next point…

2. Grab a viewer's attention in three seconds or less

People, especially on social media, have very short attention spans for individual content (thanks, Vine… and RIP btw). You must capture a viewer’s attention within the first or second frame or risk losing them.

The 3 keys to captivating your audience within those first precious seconds are sight, sound and motion.

  • Sight: Viewers want to see something that is immediately stimulating or interesting; making them more likely to watch past the 10-second mark and fully engage.
  • Sound: Another key video attribute is sound. Make sure you display something out of the gate that makes them want to click for audio and fully immerse.
  • Motion: Perhaps most importantly, keep your viewer’s eyes guessing, so your video maintains their attention.

3. It’s not all about the visual content of your video

In fact, there are a few other things you may want to consider when posting your video up on social channels.

The video king, YouTube, relies heavily on search algorithms to find relevant content for users. Yep, that’s right, even social media comes down to SEO. Make sure your video content is search friendly by…

  • Crafting titles that include keywords and phrases people search for. Google’s Keyword tool is great for identifying keyword opportunities.
  • Including transcripts that are optimized and edited. YouTube also pulls keywords from these.
  • Using relevant hashtags when cross-posting your video on Twitter and Instagram.

Another thing to note is that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. Therefore, creators may want to include a “click for sound” button or add subtitles during speaking parts.

Last but not least, your post copy. Now that you’ve enticed scrollers to stop and watch your video, educate and inform them about what your video contains. Remember less is more! Here you can also include a link to a longer version if appropriate.

4. Be mobile friendly

Think about your medium. You wouldn’t include “click here” as a part of your poster design, so recognize how your users will consume the end product. Even though you create on a desktop, be mindful of all viewing options. You’ll want to preview your video on a mobile device. Ensure all text is readable and the video fits to the screen the way you want.

Nearly 80% of time spent on social media is via a mobile device. This is the main reason for the trending of shorter, more concise content. Attention spans on mobile are even shorter. Be sure to take that into consideration when placing content on sites that lean more towards mobile versus others (Twitter vs. YouTube).

Make it easy, have all of your videos set to auto-play on every channel. One less click means you’re one step closer to learning how to make triple-decker brownies with creamy fudge frosting, aka the dream.

5. Post to channels natively to utilize videocentric algorithms

Social media platforms aim to serve users the most engaging and relevant content. As consumer preferences stray more and more towards videos, channels adapt their algorithms to keep people logged on.

This tip most specifically relates to Facebook video. Zuckerberg wants you to watch video directly in Facebook and not stray traffic out to YouTube or Vimeo. This means not using third party tools that often don’t embed videos into your platforms. To maximize reach and impressions it’s important to post natively and not take users out of the platform to view content.

Remember, one-third of all online time is spent watching video. It’s important, so do it right.