How To Optimize Video For Social Media

Video marketing is nothing new - think movie trailers and TV commercials - but the way we consume and create video has definitely changed. No more high production budgets or bidding for prime air time. With the rise of social media and smart phones, the barriers to creating and reaching audiences with video content have been significantly lowered. Virtually anyone can record and promote a branded video on social media...all you need is a smart phone (yes, I am speaking for experience).

Not only is it easier for marketers to produce engaging video content, but social media users are also consuming a lot more video, both short and long format. Evidence: the recent release of Facebook Watch and IG TV.

So, we as social media marketers need to jump on the video train (if you haven't already). With lower costs and more people willing to watch it, there's no better time than the present to pepper your content calendars with some fun video content.

As you ride that video train, keep these four insights in mind. They will help you craft video content that's meant to be seen on social media (none of that TV commercial stuff here):

(1)   Don't Rely On Audio

Never rely on audio to convey the brand message, no matter where your target audience accesses your content - mobile, desktop or tablet. More than 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound on. And viewers only turn the sound on if they are (1) forced to or (2) love the video so much they want to hear it too. 

So, to create social media friendly video, rely mainly on images, subtitles and built-in text to convey your message. Audio can always been included, but only have it as a back-up.

(2)   Optimize By Platform

If you are planning to promote the exact same video on Instagram as you are LinkedIn, think again. Each social media platform has unique ad specifications that it accepts for images and video (size, width etc.).

If you don’t look ad specs up beforehand, you could be cutting off important logos, images or subtitles depending on where the video is running. Yikes.

You can find video ad specs per platform here:

(3)   Keep Content Short

As most of us probably know from firsthand experience, social media users have short attention spans. We flick through feeds at incredible speeds. What this means is that, more often than not, users aren't going to stop and watch your video. *Face Palm*. The average video watch time on social media is three seconds or less. 

What this tells us is that we need to optimize video on social for people with short attention spans. The shorter, the better. Facebook actually recommends keeping videos to 15 seconds or less and I would agree.

By keeping video short, you are more likely to have viewers watch a decent percentage of the content. It's also a trick to bring up the "% viewed" metric (wink wink).

Social media news feeds are where users go to consume short tidbits of information and, as advertisers, we need to appeal to this behaviour. If users want to watch long-form video, they will take to YouTube, IG TV or Facebook Watch. 

(4)   Optimize The Content

Building off point #3, pay close attention to what is included in the video, most importantly, what's included in the first three seconds. My advice is to put the most stunning/funny/eye-catching footage within the first three seconds. If most users aren’t making it past three seconds, as advertisers, we need to make sure that whatever's within those first three seconds is pure gold.

Another couple thing to consider is including some sort of branding within the first three seconds. This is not a must because odds are the video is coming from the branded social account and so it's pretty obvious to the user. But, if your client or boss is adamant that you include branding, then you just gotta do what you gotta do. It could be as simple as a font, colour or slogan on the opening card. 

Lastly, try not to waste precious time, if any at all, on an intro card. Give viewers that juicy juicy content from the get-go. Did I mention you basically have three seconds (or less) to convince the viewer to stick around?

In my next post, I'll address what metrics you should be tracking and how you measure the success of video content.

Below are two examples of video ads I helped create:

Promoted Facebook post for Pretto’s Pasta.

Facebook video for TP Link Canada, part of a multi-series.