People on social media are spending more and more of their time watching videos. And social media networks are happier than ever to prolong this trend by favoring video content, as it helps keep users engaged on their platforms for longer than any other type of media.
It’s therefore easy to see why businesses want to get in on the act, seeing the demand for video, and the algorithmic favoring of it as a great chance to get their brands in front of a sizable audience. But creating a video can be daunting, and for good reason—it can be a lot of work.
And while producing video in general can be difficult, producing video for social media is a particularly tricky beast to tame. But it needn’t be, as there are some simple tips and tricks that can help you crack the code of creating the best videos for social media.
1. Think about your options
First things first, you need to consider your options for getting a high-quality social media video that does what you need it to do.
Having a professional produce your video for you will save you time and ensure your video looks great, but it’ll cost you more than shooting it yourself. You can either find a local production company to work with or hire a filmmaker through a platform like 99designs and get a high-quality video for under a thousand dollars. They can expertly script, shoot and edit your social media video for you from start to finish.
However, if cost is an issue, you might want to try producing your own social media video. But remember, you want it to look professional. So, here’s how you can create your own social media video that looks good and achieves the results you’re looking for.
2. Validate your content
The first thing to decide on is what you’ll be making your video about. To help you do this, have a think about why you would be releasing this video on social media, rather than simply embedding the video into an article on your website.
This video needs to make sense for your social audience and prompt them to watch and engage. To best decipher this it’s handy to take a look at what’s worked before.
Assuming your brand already produces some written content on your blog or website and shares that content on social media, take a dive into the performance of those posts.
If you use Google Analytics, navigate to the article by article breakdown in the Behavior section to see what’s had the most views and engagement of your posts for the last 30 days to 6 months. Pair this data with that of your main social media page, which for many will be Facebook. Facebook allows you to see your top posts by engagement. Take a look at these and see if any of them line up with the content that’s done well on your blog.
These two data sets will give you an indication of what’s going to resonate with your social audience, and ensure you’re creating a video that will give you your best bang for your buck in views and engagement.
3.Write a script
It’s time to write a script. A script can either be a guide to what you’ll be covering in the video, or a word for word transcript of what your narration or presentation to camera will be.
This may seem a bit early, but if you’re basing your video off of an article that’s already been published before, then this is a great thing to bash out straight away.
While putting the script together think about which platform you’ll be releasing the video on.
If it’s Facebook, videos can be pretty much as long as you want, but videos that perform well will generally linger around the 4 minute mark. If it’s for Twitter make the video as short and sharp as you can. And if it’s for Instagram, you’ve got 60 seconds.
Try and think ahead about what this video will be. Is it a piece to camera, meaning you or someone else will be reading this script out loud while presenting, like this?
If it is, break the script down into clear dot points that the talent on screen can memorize easily and paraphrase in their own tone of voice while maintaining eye contact with the camera.
Is it a voiceover? Will it just be text overlaid on top of footage and images, like the one below?
If it is, ensure your phrasing is concise and easy to read so as not to be too long, and maybe give the talent who’ll be reading it a chance to edit it to fit their own style to make it sound natural.
The quicker you can get your script together, the easier it is to know what resources you’ll need to bring what’s on the page to life.
4. Get straight to the point
When it comes to videos on social media, it’s vital you don’t bury the lead. Get straight into it. Don’t waste time opening the video by introducing yourself and your brand. It can certainly be done in the video, just not at the very beginning.
Open the video with something provocative and hyper-relevant to your audience, that drives to the heart of what the video is about. Put it on the line in the first frame and think about animating that opening line.
For example, “Are you struggling to save money?” would be a great opener for a video about saving better. It’s personal, cutting and straightforward.
If the audience you’re trying to get to watch and engage with this video is someone struggling with money, it seems like a pretty logical question to ask upfront.
Then, clearly communicate that watching this video will give them the answer.
5. Focus the script around that opening statement
If this is a video providing the answer to saving money, then each part of the script should be focused on providing that ultimate answer.
Break your answer down into sections, and keep showing how each section links back to that larger answer.
You can even consider recapping the advice in these sections at the very end of your video. Keep demonstrating to the audience that this video is providing them with the answer to the question they were searching for.
The more focused your video is on doing what it says on the box, the more satisfied and willing to engage the viewer will be at the end, which is what you’re ultimately after.
6. Time to plan and create a storyboard
So you’ve got a script. Time to plan and prepare to put the video together. Now that you know what you want to show, what do you need to source or create?
Here are some questions to ask yourself. Do you need:
- Stock photography?
- Stock footage?
- Filmed footage?
- Animation graphics and illustrations?
- Animated captions?
A good way to tease this out is to create a storyboard. Separate to a script where you articulate the content you’ll be covering in your video, a storyboard is essentially a visual script, a process that helps you figure out what you’ll be showing where.
Every article on this topic will tell you this, but I can’t stress it enough: You really don’t need to be an artist to create a storyboard. It’s simply the most effective way to push yourself to map out what you’ll need to bring your video to life.
Don’t think too much about the logistics at this point, and focus on what you’d ideally want to show in what way that will best serve your script. From there you can work backwards as you begin to source your assets (more on that in step 8).
7. Make it social friendly
As you prepare your storyboard consider a few things about what it will take for your video to succeed on social media, particularly Facebook. Here are some crucial tips:
Catch the eye
Make the most of the autoplaying feature on most platforms and focus on capturing the audience’s attention early.
Social audiences usually stumble across videos as they’re scrolling. You need to stop them from scrolling.
The best way to do this is to catch their eye with some movement—be it eye popping footage or a bright, attractive animation—and hook them immediately by presenting something relevant to them.
Design it to be watched on mute
Design your video assuming most people will watch it with the sound off, because they probably will.
Make sure there’s an option for captions, or include animated captions and images and footage that clearly illustrate the words in the script, so that the viewer can gauge what you’re talking about at any given time with the sound off.
When creating your video, keep in mind that you can’t rely on sound to get your viewers attention. It all needs to be communicated visually.
Consider the sizing and dimensions of your video
A majority of people will watch the video on a mobile phone, so don’t make graphics and on screen text too small.
Also consider the dimensions of your video. Square videos and vertical videos are a better fit for people viewing on their smartphones as most people won’t expand a landscape video to fullscreen.
Make it as short as possible
Different platforms have different requirements, but even on the ones that allow quite long videos, what do you expect of your audience? Will they watch a video that’s more than, say 4 minutes? Will they watch for 8 minutes?
Platforms like Facebook and YouTube actually do want to keep users on the platform for longer, so if you think your content has the ability to hold people’s attention for that amount of time, then all power to you. In fact, YouTube tends to favour videos that are around 16 minutes long for that very reason.
But if your focus is engagement on social first platforms like Facebook whose algorithm favours videos people engage with and share, then you may want to focus on making your video as short as possible.
Again, 4 minutes or less will be best for Facebook and most other platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.
8. Source and create
Time to source and create the assets that will make up your video.
If you need to record a piece to camera, have a think about your audience and what they’ll expect and accept.
People’s expectations for video quality are now both higher and lower than they were previously. Some audiences are okay with videos shot on a smartphone, and the cameras on the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy lines in particular have gotten quite good.
But if it’s for a professional audience that may not take well to something that isn’t of the highest possible quality, consider sourcing a decent video camera like a Canon C100 or above. Or an easy to use mirrorless camera from the Sony RX100 series. They’re fantastic alternatives to some of the bigger more complex cameras.
Whatever camera you pick, be sure to use a tripod when filming. And ensure you use a seperate microphone to record your sound.
While a lot of people on social media will most likely watch your video without sound, if you’re including a voiceover or piece to camera, a good microphone will lift the quality and perception of your entire video.
Either grab an easy to use microphone like the Rode VideoMic Pro, which will plug directly into your DSLR camera. Or if you’re using a camera without a mic port like a smartphone or one of the Sony RX100s then consider a USB microphone like the Blue Yeti Snowball. It’s great quality, and you can record directly into a program like GarageBand on the Mac or Audacity.
Remember, if you’re using a seperate mic to your camera you’ll need to clap on camera at the start of each recording in order to synchronize the audio to the video when you’re editing.
If you’re just doing a voiceover, the Blue Yeti will again be a great quality and easy to use option.
Stock footage and animation
Videos built for social media need to contain movement, so consider sourcing animations and stock footage to help illustrate whatever you’re mentioning in your video.
If you need custom animations, it’s easiest to work directly with a graphic designer to get exactly what you’re looking for.
Sites like Envato, Adobe Stock and VideoBlocks have reasonable subscription options and decent sized libraries for video stock footage you can source these from.
After Effects or Premiere Pro templates
And if you’re not a video editing pro, you may want to consider an After Effects or Premiere Pro template. These are animated graphic templates that contain placeholders for your images and text that can create a unified look across your video, and automate some impressive animations and a visual structure across your content.
You can usually get inside these templates either in After Effects or directly in Premiere Pro and switch the colours and fonts to fit your brand’s style guide, to make sure your videos are on brand from start to finish.
9. Include a call to action
Once you’ve caught people’s attention with the beginning of the video, make sure you include some sort of call to action at the appropriate time.
For platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn you’ll be wanting them to share the video. The more it’s shared, the more visible it will be on other people’s timelines which is great for your content and brand.
The other thing you want them to do is engage by reacting to the video in some way and commenting. Comments will help the video pop up in the feeds of your followers.
And if there’s a site you want people to visit or something you want them to download and try, tell them. Include it at the close of the video, or, do it somewhere in the middle of the video while you’ve got their undivided attention.
Having people simply watch your video on a social platform isn’t enough for them or for you at the end of the day. So be sure to have a journey planned for the viewers of your content. Either keep them on the platform engaging with your content to help it rank, or focus on getting them to your website or platform. And be sure to keep an eye on how many users follow your call to action, as this is one significant way to measure the ROI of the video, and how effective your content was.
10. Brand your video
Finally, be sure to brand your video.
The ultimate aim of distributing video content on social media is to expose your brand’s look, feel, voice and tone to people without them needing to use your product.
You want to provide them with the experience of what it’s like to interact with your brand. Therefore your video needs to practically ooze its identity.
One simple thing you can include is a logo watermark. I usually like to put mine in one of the top corners.
Don’t make it obnoxiously big, but do keep in mind a lot of people will view your video on their mobile phone and probably won’t expand it to fullscreen, so do make it visible enough for them.
This is a simple, quick win that will get your brand in front of as many people as possible without hitting people over the head with it, or having to waste time opening the video with an animated logo reveal, or spoken introduction to who the brand is.
Brand your endscreen
End the video with your logo, and, if it’s YouTube or Facebook, include a custom “Subscribe” or call to action screen.
This can be a simple background with your brand colour and some placeholders for the “Subscribe” and “Watch next” CTAs on YouTube, or a branded background with “Share this video and comment” for Facebook. Whatever works for you.
Most After Effects and Premiere Pro broadcast template packages will include these options.
A quick recap: best practices for creating video for social media
To sum it all up, here’s a recap of what we’ve learned when it comes to social media videos:
- Validate your video by looking at what’s worked for your brand’s blog and social platforms before.
- Script carefully, letting the main message of the video drive its content from start to finish, and ensuring you use the introduction to catch the attention of your audience.
- Prioritise eye catching visuals including animated captions, animated illustrations, stock footage and stock images.
- Weave your brand’s look, feel, voice and tone in wherever possible without hitting the viewer over the head with it.
- Include calls to action that link back to your strategy and can generate the right data to prove ROI.
The common thread that runs through all of these suggestions and considerations for producing video for social media is time. Your time and your audience’s time.
We’re no longer live in an age where you can just plonk something on your brand’s Facebook page and wait for the views, likes and comments to roll in. People are overwhelmed with content being hauled at them every second of the day.
So you need to be smart about the type of content you produce for social media, validating the topics your covering. And you need to be clever and disciplined with how you present it all.
Script your video effectively, storyboard what you want to show and catch you viewer’s eye. Make your video extremely visual and highly related to the script—and use every opportunity you can to weave your brand’s look, feel, voice and tone into the video. Lastly, include a call to action that brings it all together.
Now you’re ready to compete for those social eyeballs!