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Social Media Video: The Complete Guide
Social media videos have become essential for increasing visibility and driving engagement. Discover how to create captivating videos specifically designed for social media platforms.
Why create videos for social media?
What is a social media video?
A social media video refers to video content created specifically for platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. These videos are typically short in duration and crafted to grab and hold the attention of viewers as they scroll through their social feeds. The goal is to inspire actions such as likes, comments, shares, conversions, and even purchases. By briefly interrupting users’ browsing experiences for a few seconds or minutes, social media videos serve as a major catalyst for engagement, and their impact can be easily measured. This makes them an incredibly valuable marketing tool for businesses and brands.
Why choose the video format for social media communication?
Out of all the content types on social media – text messages, images, emojis, GIFs – videos reign supreme. According to Wyzowl, weekly online video viewing has nearly doubled between 2018 and 2022, going from 10.5 hours to 19 hours. On YouTube alone, more than 1 billion hours of video content are consumed daily. This increasing interest can be attributed to several factors: videos are easy to consume (short duration, ability to pause), require less concentrated attention than text, and offer more information than a simple image or GIF. Moreover, the wide variety of video formats caters to diverse preferences. Consequently, social media videos have played a significant role in shaping the digital landscape in recent years, with certain platforms relying exclusively on this format (such as YouTube or TikTok).
Making social media videos: why do it?
How do businesses benefit from creating videos on social media? What advantages can be expected from a video-based marketing strategy?
Capturing audience attention
Social media videos are an excellent way to grab your audience’s attention. In an age of information overload, where internet users are bombarded with vast amounts of content, video has the advantage of catching the eye and capturing attention. This is especially true as social media algorithms tend to favour video formats, as they increase the duration of interaction.
Driving user engagement
Videos have the power to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time, attract and maintain attention, as well as generate positive emotions and create stronger connections. Therefore, they are a powerful driver of engagement. In fact, a video post on certain platforms can generate engagement levels ten times higher than a post without video (such as on Twitter).
Attracting new audiences
A social media video also has the ability to attract the attention of audiences beyond your existing community. For example, on Instagram, stories can be made public, making them visible to any user. Additionally, videos have a relatively long lifespan (up to several months on TikTok), which increases their potential visibility.
Standing out from competitors
A vast amount of content is created on the web every day. However, through the use of video format, businesses can more easily differentiate themselves and stand out from their competitors to attract public attention and drive conversions. This is particularly true among younger generations: according to HubSpot (based on a survey about YouTube), 50% of those under 34 say they “couldn’t live without” videos.
Generating more conversions
Like any web content, a social media video should be part of a marketing strategy and aim for a specific goal: prompting the viewer to interact with the content, connect to a website, make a purchase of a product/service, and more. Furthermore, a video can also be a powerful sales tool, as many internet users express a higher likelihood of purchasing a product/service after watching a video on a social network.
of marketing professionalsuse video.
of marketersclaim to have generated new customers through social videos.
of Facebook usershave shown interest in a product after watching a video.
What are the different types of social media video?
Social media videos: what are the options?
If you’re considering creating your first social media video, you’ll soon find yourself faced with a plethora of possibilities. The options vary across different platforms: on Instagram, you can post videos on the feed or in stories, create short videos (Reels) or longer ones (IGTV), and even go live. Facebook offers classic video posts alongside 360° videos, Live videos, stories, and slideshows. On Twitter, you can share simple videos or ones that include polls or compelling calls-to-action (CTAs). And let’s not forget about the video features integrated into ads! Whatever your choice may be, you’ll always need to ask yourself the same questions before creating a social media video: which screen format should you choose? What is the ideal length for this type of content? And, most importantly, what story do you want to tell?
Choosing the right screen format (the height-to-width ratio) is crucial for effectively conveying your message through social media videos. Here are the most common formats to consider:
Ideal for beginners, the square format (1:1) offers excellent compatibility across various browsing devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets. You can’t go wrong with this format.
The vertical format comes in a 4:5 ratio for feeds and a 9:16 ratio for Stories and Reels. It’s perfectly adapted to the shape of smartphone screens.
The landscape format with a 16:9 ratio (commonly used on YouTube and Twitch) is well-suited for desktop screens. However, viewers may need to rotate their phones to watch videos in this format.
Ideal duration of a social media video
When it comes to social videos, brevity is seen as an advantage. Short formats, especially those under 15 seconds, tend to be the most successful. On average, a video tends to lose about a third of its viewers after 30 seconds, and 45% after one minute. Different social media platforms have their own rules regarding video duration: stories usually have a maximum length of 15 seconds, IGTV videos on Instagram or native videos on LinkedIn can be up to 10 minutes long, Twitter allows videos of up to 140 seconds, and TikTok videos can be up to 3 minutes. However, it’s worth noting that longer videos can still be successful. On YouTube, longer formats are quite common and can attract millions of views.
What subjects should you focus on in your social media videos?
To determine the content of your videos, it’s important to understand what motivates internet users to watch them. Similar to past generations who tuned into TV or radio to unwind, today’s internet users primarily seek relaxation, as revealed by a survey conducted by HubSpot. However, relaxation is not the sole reason. Users also click the “play” button to learn something new, explore their interests, have fun, find inspiration, escape from the world around them, stay informed, and more. In essence, users want to be entertained while also being informed about topics that align with their interests.
The different types of videos you can create
What type of video is best for each social network?
Every social network has its unique video landscape
Dealing with multiple publishing channels is not just a challenge; it is a major aspect of any social media marketing strategy. Even if you already have a stock of videos, you may not be able to repurpose them for social networks. Each platform has its own cultural and technical constraints, influenced by both their specifications and the behaviour of their audiences. While the idea of creating different content for each social network may seem complex and frustrating—a live video for Facebook, a story for Instagram, a long video for YouTube—it is, nevertheless, the best strategy to adopt. If you don’t have the time or resources to focus on a multi-channel strategy, it’s best to concentrate your efforts on one or two platforms.
Understanding the specifics of social networks to create engaging videos
YouTube is well-suited for long and informative videos that address the questions viewers have. The preferred format is 16:9 (1920 x 1080 pixels), but the screen size supports various ratios. Don’t forget to optimise your content for search since YouTube functions as a large-scale search engine (and is directly linked to Google).
On Facebook, users primarily seek entertainment and discover new things, such as news, products, services, and advice. The options are diverse. Videos are shared among friends and their communities. While the recommended format is vertical with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, each format has its own specific parameters, such as 4096 x 2048 pixels for 360° videos.
Videos hold a special place on Instagram, and user expectations are higher than ever. Creativity and originality are key, as they have the potential to reach a vast audience—500 million people engage with Stories! It’s also an ideal platform for promotional social media videos. The preferred resolution (1080 x 1080 pixels) varies depending on the type of video.
The haven for short videos, Twitter is a platform that is more focused on B2B and information sharing. What matters here is the authenticity and quality of the message being conveyed, so there’s no need to spend too much time perfecting the quality. The ideal resolution is 1920 x 1200 pixels in landscape mode and 1200 x 1920 pixels in portrait mode.
The youngest of social media platforms has built its success on the brevity of content. While the maximum duration was once limited to 60 seconds, it’s now been extended to 3 minutes, though the average length of videos ranges between 9 and 15 seconds. Among other peculiarities, TikTok videos heavily rely on sound and prioritise entertainment, including songs, dances, sketches, games, contests, and more. The format is exclusively vertical with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels.
LinkedIn’s professional aspect is reflected in the videos published on the platform, which are primarily corporate-focused, product/service-oriented, or dedicated to personal branding. Your audiences expect to find information, updates, interviews, conferences, and more related to your company. Another specificity is that videos have a relatively short lifespan as they quickly disappear from the news feed. The default resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels.
Similar to YouTube, the Pinterest network is primarily dedicated to discovery. Users come here to find information, ideas, inspiration, advice, and things to buy. An effective social media video on Pinterest will take the form of a guide or tutorial or offer a product/service that aligns with the subscribers’ interests. Here, most ratios are accepted, both in vertical and horizontal formats.
Good to know
Among the top 10 most downloaded mobile apps, social networks dominate: TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram are in the top five (source). It’s estimated that over 85% of social media traffic comes from mobile devices. As a result, it is important to create a mobile-optimised social media video, ideally designed in a vertical orientation to save users from having to rotate their devices, and with subtitles to overcome sound-related issues.
of internet userswatch a video in its entirety if it’s less than 60 seconds long.
of usersfollow brands on YouTube.
of Facebook userswatch videos without sound.
How to produce engaging social media videos
Best practices for creating your social media video
Irrespective of the type of video, format, duration, and other factors to consider, the key to creating a compelling social media video is to dive right in! Discover the following best practices for producing your initial content.
Define your target audience
Before creating a social media video (or implementing a social media marketing strategy), the first step is to define your target audience – in line with your typical customer base. Refer to your marketing personas to gain a better understanding of your audience, their needs, and expectations. This will also help you select the most popular social media platforms among your target audience.
Adapt to the social network
Every social media platform has its own conventions, features, peculiarities, and user base – what you post on Instagram won’t be the same as what you post on YouTube or Facebook. Therefore, it’s crucial to adapt and create social media videos that align with the specific platform you’re targeting. This includes considering the type of video, format, resolution, and tone of the content.
Find relevant topics
A social media video is more than just footage – it’s about addressing a relevant topic, conveying a meaningful message, or even telling a compelling story. While an average user may simply film themselves dancing, the approach for businesses is different! Look for ideas among your popular blog articles, compile a list of highly shared content on your social media accounts, and observe what your competitors are doing.
This is the natural progression from the previous point: every social media video should deliver value to your audience, as well as your business. It should meet a specific need (entertainment, information, discovery, etc.) and help you achieve your marketing strategy objectives. Don’t forget to include visual elements that immediately resonate with users and make your brand recognisable.
Always get straight to the point
Unless there’s an exception (like YouTube), it’s best to keep social media videos short. Going beyond a few minutes runs the risk of losing a significant portion of your audience. Think of it as “snack content” and offer brief videos that are easy to consume while still providing added value. To achieve this, focus on getting straight to the point both in the message you want to convey and in how you present it.
Quickly capture attention
Once the video starts playing, you only have a few seconds to grab your audience’s attention. Use those initial seconds wisely to convince viewers to watch your social media video till the end. Spark curiosity right from the start, ask a compelling question, make an enticing promise, share an inspiring quote, or enhance your video with captivating visuals.
Don’t forget to add subtitles
Most internet users who watch social media videos don’t have the sound on (either because they’re in public without headphones or because the sound is disabled by default). If your social media video relies on spoken words, consider incorporating subtitles to allow users to follow the content. Additionally, overlaying graphical text on images can highlight key points effectively.
Include a relevant call-to-action
When a viewer reaches the end of your social media video, they’ll want to know what to do next and where to go. Guide them in the right direction by including a call-to-action that aligns with the action you want them to take. Unless your content focuses solely on a product or service, avoid overly promotional CTAs. Instead, opt for linking to another video or encouraging viewer interaction.
Actively promote your video
Once your social media video is published, it will appear in users’ feeds or in a dedicated section. It will be visible to your subscribers or accessible to all platform users, depending on your settings. However, that shouldn’t stop you from actively promoting it. Place links to your new content in various locations and invite users to discover it.
Measure your marketing ROI
Each social media video should be carefully tracked and analysed. How many views did it receive? What was the total watch time? How many interactions were there? These metrics allow you to assess the reach and performance of your publication, helping you determine what resonates or doesn’t resonate with your audience. Apply the same measurement throughout your social media marketing campaign.
Good to know
The engagement rate generated by a social media video can vary greatly depending on the day and time of its publication. What is the “right” time to post a video? Each platform is different: on Facebook, it’s better to publish from Tuesday to Friday, preferably in the afternoon. On Instagram, it’s Tuesday and Friday, etc. Do your research before posting!
A social media video is video content created specifically to be published on a social network, with the aim of gaining visibility and generating engagement. This type of content is often of short duration, ranging from a few seconds to several minutes, and must be tailored to the chosen platform. Indeed, each social network has its technical peculiarities and offers different video features to users.
The video format is highly favoured by internet users and dominates the social media ecosystem. For a business or brand, there are numerous advantages to publishing videos: they capture attention, promote engagement, attract new audiences, differentiate from competitors, and generate conversions. Social media video is therefore an efficient marketing lever that offers multiple benefits.
To create an effective and engaging social media video, various factors need to be considered. You must define your target audience and choose the most relevant social network based on that audience. Adapt your video format to the platform, identify a relevant topic, create value for your audiences, keep it short, capture attention from the first few seconds, include a final call-to-action, and promote the video.