Social Media Video Guide

Bill Baraona, Founder/Videographer
4th September 2019

Best Practices For Using Video On Various Social Media Platforms

Are you having a hard time getting engagement out of the videos you’re posting on social media?

While many people think shorter videos are always best for social media because “people don’t have long attention spans,” few realize that every platform is optimized differently. Also, unfortunately, there is no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all approach to sharing video on social media. What may work on one platform may not be the best solution for another.

Remember that at the end of the day all social media platforms are businesses. How does a business that offers a free service survive? By selling ads to other businesses to allow them to reach their target market and by keeping people on the platform to view these ads. Once you understand this key element, you can start to tailor your content to fit in line with the goals of the platform, which in turn will provide you with more engagement.

In this blog post we’re going to take you through a few of the most popular social media platforms to discuss best practices when creating and posting your video. Let’s get started!

-Average video length should be about 3 to 5 minutes, though keep in mind there is no “magic time frame” just the amount of time you need to tell your story.

-Grab your viewers’ attention immediately. As people scrolling through their newsfeeds you need to give them a reason to stop and watch your video.

-Upload the video file directly to Facebook rather than posting links to your website or YouTube. Prompt people to comment, interact, or message you directly on Facebook for more information. Remember, Facebook wants to keep people on its channel longer so by helping achieve its goal you will also be rewarded with more organic reach.

-Subtitles, subtitles, and more subtitles. reports that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound, so you need to find a way to deliver your message when people are scrolling through the timeline even without sound. The easiest way to do that is with subtitles burned into you video.

-If you’re running your video as an ad, try a couple different variations of the description or action (split testing). Nothing is 100% effective every time so test it and then put more money into the ad with better results.

-One metric you want to be aware of when checking the effectiveness of your videos is Audience Retention. This will help you understand how your audience is watching your video and how far they are getting. You can use this data to help you improve the structure of your next video script. Do not confuse these with views because Facebook automatically shows three seconds of the video even to people scrolling past it.

-As far as length goes for Instagram, you are restricted by what the platform will allow you to do. If you’re going to be posting your video to your Instagram newsfeed, you’re restricted to 90 seconds. If you’re posting to your Instagram story you’re restricted to 15 seconds. Posting to IGTV will give you up to 10 minutes and possibly more if you have a business account and a large following.

-Vertical video is King on Instagram (shooting mobile video). This is the one platform on which vertical video is the way to go. That doesn’t mean shoot a bunch of video Vlog style of you talking to your phone. Vlogging to your phone for your story is OK but if you’re going to be posting to your feed or IGTV you’re going to want to add a little production value. That means use graphics, transitions, B roll, and any other methods you would consider including if you were to post a video to any other platform.

-Remember, your call-to-action is limited on Instagram. It will not allow you to post links in your caption. If you want your viewer to leave the platform to go to your webpage, sign up, or fill out a form you need to post the link in your Instagram bio and and direct them to find the link there, perhaps by using an end graphic in your video.

-Make sure when you are posting a video to your feed you go through and choose a thumbnail. By default Instagram will create a black box but choose the thumbnail option when uploading to your Instagram feed and select one that best represents your video and will capture your viewer’s attention while scrolling.

-Use your story to promote your post. When posting a video to your feed or on IGTV make sure to take advantage of your Instagram story. You can share the post that you just made to the feed in your story to allow viewers to click on the image you posted and direct them to your Instagram grid. As for an IGTV post, your story will give you the option to allow your viewer to click a link that will automatically take them within the platform to your IGTV video.

-This is another platform where are you want to watch your retention metric. By watching this metric, you will be able to determine how to shape your next video script. Also make sure to split test and see how different cover photos, hashtags, location tags, and company/people tags affect your engagement.

-Average video length should about 5 to 7 minutes, but again keep in mind that is all comes down to the amount of time you need to tell your story.

-Make sure when you design your video you are grabbing your viewers’ attention immediately and identifying with your viewers’ pain points. It’s important, especially if you plan on running a YouTube ad, to establish who your buyer is within the first 30 seconds of the ad. On YouTube you only get charged for people that watch the ad and don’t skip over it. By establishing who your buyer is in the beginning you’re helping to save more of your marketing dollars to spend on people that your ad applies to.

-Make sure to give your video a relevant title to help explain what your video is going to be about. Also use a thumbnail that applies to your video and create tags for other possible searches that people may be using. By making sure your video gets a maximum click-through-rate you are showing YouTube that your video is relevant which will result in more views and will cause YouTube to organically push your content as a suggested video on the home screen or next to videos that your viewers are watching.

-As far as subtitles go, YouTube will automatically create subtitles from your video but you should make sure that all the spelling is correct for SEO purposes. Split test your video to see if having subtitles burned into your video versus having the option to turn them on and off helps with engagement.

-Make sure to use links throughout your video to direct your viewers to other related videos you created. This will help YouTube suggest more videos from you to potential and current subscribers.

-This is another platform where are you want to watch your retention metric, but also look at click-through-rate. You want to have a high click-through-rate and a high completion rate/retention rate. This helps show that your video is relevant to your viewers. If you have a high click-through-rate and a low retention rate this shows that your title and thumbnail may be misleading to your viewers (click bait) and you need to look into why people are not continuing to watch your video.

-These are just a few tips to help maximize your videos for social media. Remember your video is only as good as your strategy and you need a good strategy before you start writing your script. Make sure you develop your target market and/or buyer persona and create a script with that person or group in mind. Also make sure to figure out how you’re going to collect your leads and what your desired action is and push your viewers to do that.

Linkedin is also optimizing for video, but there’s a lot to that one so we’ll be covering that in a future blog.

Also remember the algorithm is always changing for social media channels and we will do our best to try and update this blog and continue to go further in depth and future blogs as the algorithms change and new information comes out.

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