How can you make outstanding social media videos? We asked marketing experts from across every industry to share their best advice on how to create social media videos that capture viewer attention, engage audiences, and boost conversions. Here’s what they had to say.
Be Real, But Be Prepared
“Your social media videos will stand out if they are genuine,” says Luke Wester, Digital Marketing Analyst at Miva.
“Trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Social media allows people to show the very best of their life or business and it can be tempting to only post these moments. The problem is that it can come off as inauthentic. Be real. Show the bloopers. Show behind the scenes. Let your followers into your unfiltered world. As humans, we are drawn to genuine human connection. Give it to your audience. Trust is built on honesty and people buy from brands they trust.
“Avoid perfectionism. More often than not, I see social video strategies fail because businesses waited for everything to be perfect and ended up producing nothing. Be like Nike and Just Do It. Videos in social ‘Stories’ only last for 24 hours so shoot from the hip and keep it moving. Learn how to create better video content AS you create it. Don’t wait for it to be perfect, make it better as you go along.”
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Being genuine doesn’t necessarily mean shooting unscripted. A little preparation can go a long way toward creating a better video and helping you feel more comfortable with the process. Michaela Alexis, Co-Author of “Think Video” explains:
“Don’t think that you NEED to freestyle, many people don’t, myself included! Whenever I record a video, I create a basic outline of the topic or question I want to address, at minimum. For training videos, I use a super handy (and free) teleprompter app for iOS called BigVu, which allows you to copy and paste your script into the app and feel more comfortable and confident in front of the camera. It’s my favorite secret weapon for creating on point videos!”
Have Goals And A Strategy To Reach Them
“The most common mistakes we see when people create and promote video on social media is a lack of strategy and direction. People will throw a lot of content out hoping something will stick. Strategy takes time but it keeps you on course, so you craft the best performing content you can,” says Natalie Athanasiadis, Owner and Head of Growth at Ormi Media.
A strong video strategy for social media is built on clear and measurable goals. Geoff Crain, Digital Director at Kingstar Media, recommends tracking clicks, views, comments and shares. Many social media platforms have built-in tools to track these metrics. If the platform you’re using doesn’t, look for third-party tools to give you this valuable information.
Think About Style And Tone
“When creating a video for social media channels, the first thing you need to do is decide on a style. No matter which style you choose, make sure that you avoid making the video choppy or segmented; the whole video needs to flow well so that users don’t miss out on what you are trying to sell or tell them,” says Stacy Cyr, Marketing Manager, Logomix.
The style of your videos should match your overall branding to create consistency for visitors. While you want your videos to look professional, you also want them to engage your audience. Shannon Kelly, Marketing Coordinator at Big Sea says it best:
“No one is scrolling social media looking for a bad time. I lean toward humor and entertainment in my posts. This can be achieved by fun captions, upbeat music, and featuring fun personalities. Though you want your posts to be amusing, make sure they reflect your message and purpose.”
Give Value To Get Results
Your content can’t be all flash, though. Viewers will expect you to deliver something useful and relevant in exchange for their time.
“It’s easy to create videos that look cool, and may even be interesting, but if they’re not leaving viewers with a memorable takeaway that relates to your business, you’re wasting your time,”says Kaddie Francher, Owner of KC Media Inc.
“Your brand will see a greater ROI by investing in curated messaging rather than fancy equipment or backdrops. A best practice is to create a video that conveys a solution to the problem your business is trying to solve. For example, if you’re in the business of financial planning, use a video that shows how investments can grow over time, or the benefits of starting early on retirement savings.”
Capture Viewer Attention
Before you can give viewers value or reach your marketing goals, you first have to capture viewer attention. On noisy social media platforms, where there’s always something else to look at, this can be a challenge to say the least.
“Video is the currency of social. It’s the most engaging way to capture someone’s attention, but you have to remember you have seconds to do this. The first three seconds are vital, so you should really think about front-loading your video with the hooks, exciting moments or just jump straight to it, to stop someone mid-scroll,” says Katie Philo, Content Manager for BritBox by BBC and ITV
Rob Powell of Rob Powell Biz Blog, tells us exactly how to do that:
“Start your video by telling the viewer how you’re going to solve their problem. For example: “Are you struggling with [xyz]? Nothing you do works? Don’t worry – in this video I’m going to show you exactly how to [xyz]”. Then break away and show your 5 to 7 second logo sting. And then return to solving the problem.”
Deliver Quality, With Or Without Sound
“Design your video so it still resonates and is easily understood with the sound off. Depending on the study you read, anywhere from 70-80% of video viewings take place on smartphones. And a majority of those viewings occur with the sound off,” says Jeff Kear, Co-Founder of Planning Pod.
“It’s vital that you design your social media videos so that whoever is watching can easily follow the thread and the story just with visuals. Often this can be done effectively by incorporating the words or message into the design itself, or by showing a progression of scenes (“showing” vs. “telling”). However, if you do use a voiceover, make sure to add subtitles to your video so they can be easily read by the viewer as the video rolls in real time.”
Don’t let the movement toward sound-independent video fool you into thinking that audio doesn’t matter. It absolutely does as Shane Hebzynski, Owner at 3catslabs explains.
“One thing that you do need to nail is audio. A video can be great, but if the audio is off it can feel shoddy and poorly made. Make sure your video and audio are synced so it doesn’t look like a dubbed foreign film. Be sure to also check the volume before publishing so it’s not too quiet or too loud.”
Also keep in mind that sound quality is about more than the technical elements. Voice talent plays a role too.
“Too many brands aren’t thinking about how they sound and unfortunately make a quick and unprofessional decision when it comes to the voice-over,” says David Ciccarelli founder and CEO of Voices.
“Professional voice talent can be found at freelancer marketplaces where you can post a job and get auditions of your script read. You’ll hear the difference instantly between an aspiring artist and a true professional. Elevate the quality of your videos by working with professional voice talent who will breathe life into your script.”
Keep It steady
Of course, the quality of your video is equally as important as the quality of your sound. That doesn’t mean you need fancy camera equipment, but it does mean steady shots and good lighting, as Ron Humes, VP of Operations for Post Modern Marketing explains:
“Steady your nerves … and your film! Too many times in social media videos we see blurry, dark, or shaky footage with video quality that leaves the audience with nausea and no idea of the message… It is always a good idea to add additional lighting, if possible, to keep your videos bright and vibrant. Remember, no matter how good your topic is, if it is not visually pleasing, your audience will not watch or share.”
Keep Social Media Video Brief
Armen Karaoghlanian, Creative Director at Phonexa asks us to remember William Shakespeare’s advice for creating quality video: “Brevity is the soul of wit.”
“Keep. It. Short. Whatever length you first think your video should be, cut it in half without losing your point. There are so many well-made professional videos out there that just hang around a bit longer than they need to. People scrolling through their feed are more likely to watch 1 minute than 2 minutes, or 30 seconds instead of a minute, and so on. It can be tempting to “go long” if you don’t post many videos, but one short incisive video will nearly always have a bigger impact.”
“Create a visual loop. You don’t just want your audience to watch or scroll past your video once. You want them to watch it several times over and be impressed by how it loops. Pay close attention to how you start and end a video, the more seamless, the better.”
Package It Up Neatly
“Great video doesn’t just rely on the content itself – make sure you curate and package up the content using best practices on each platform,” says Katie Philo, Content Manager for BritBox by BBC and ITV.
“For example, on Facebook, craft arresting titles (also great for SEO!), write Facebook specific copy for the post (8-11 words is the sweet spot), use emojis and select a custom thumbnail. Think about the post as a perfectly packaged gift – every element must come together to improve your video marketing, not just the video itself.”
Finally, Ellen Sluder, VP of Marketing at RingBoost.com has this advice for marketers creating social media videos:
“Do more video! The more you produce, the less weight and responsibility each individual video has to carry your brand message.”