Updated: May 28
Well, not quite – I still love a good carousel and anything that catches the eye is a good thing, generally. But, there’s no denying that video content has boomed, with a particular surge in 2020 as we craved human connection. Live streams have become really popular and even LinkedIn (the more traditional social media platform) has recently introduced video bios as a new feature.
Information in video format is much more personable and easy to consume. When you’re scrolling through your newsfeed, it’s video that makes you pause, so make sure you harness the power of video in your marketing! As someone who hates being in front of a camera, I completely understand why many people have yet to give video marketing a try, but with the proper preparation you can quickly find your confidence.
I’ve broken down the key points to bear in mind when creating video for social media, along with some hints and tips on how to make them with minimal equipment – you really can start with just your mobile phone.
1. Write a compelling headline
You need to entice people to watch your video by making it really obvious what it’s about or how it will benefit them. Once you’ve filmed your video, there are many apps, websites and software that you can explore to add your headline directly onto the top of your video – and you should keep it there throughout the duration. Even better, use your brand colours to make it even more recognisable and stand-out.
You can do this in iMovie for free if you’re using an iPhone, or have a look at Wave, Adobe Spark, or Rush – most of these have a free trial or entry-level free accounts for the basics.
2. Choose the right length for your video
There’s no denying that people have a very low attention span on social media, so don’t film any epic lengths. Each social media platform has different limits on the length of video it will let you upload, and they also measure video retention (how much of the video that users watch) – if viewers exit after only a short while, it doesn’t give a strong signal to the platform and they are not going to show your video to as many people.
The ideal video length depends on the platform you’re posting on. TikTok allows up to 1 minute of video to be uploaded but 15-20 seconds perform best. LinkedIn supports up to 10 minute videos, but shorter videos 30-60 seconds get the most full views. Instagram’s limit is 1 minute for standard posts or 15 seconds for stories, while on Facebook videos that are at least 3 minutes long are shown to more people and they rate videos that are watched beyond 1 minute. The general rule of thumb should be to make it as short as possible but as long as it needs to be to get the message across.
To help you stay on track, you should write a script. The Teleprompter app is a brilliant tool for adding this to and giving you a rolling autocue so you’re natural on camera and not looking down to read. If you’ve got lots to say, chop it into a series of shorter videos or make a teaser video and link to the full length version on Youtube.
3. Resize for each platform
The ratio of your video will need to be adjusted to suit the platform. On Facebook and LinkedIn a square video works best, whereas on Instagram a 4:5 ratio will take up the most space in the newsfeed to get you noticed. And while for Youtube videos need to be landscape, for stories you’ll need vertical versions. Don’t worry though, you don’t always need to film it several times in different ways. Lots of video editing tools like the ones I listed in point 1 will allow you to resize your original video.
4. Add captions
As a lot of social media users are active in public or at work, the majority of videos are played on mute and some platforms auto-play without the sound. So it is really, really important to add captions (subtitles) to your videos.
There are a few different ways you can do this. You can add them manually by typing the text in the right places when using iMovie to edit, or type them directly in Youtube when you upload. When you upload to Facebook you can click edit on the video before publishing it and then you have the option to add auto-generated captions.
A much quicker way is to use caption software on the original file and then you can upload it ready-subtitled to all your chosen platforms. Zubtitle.com and Veed.io are great ones to use and have different video editing and resizing features too, but they are pricey at around £18 per month. Mixcaptions and Autocap are two good apps to download, which both have free versions (although this leaves a watermark) or for a more professional finish you can subscribe for between £5-10 per month. The cheapest way I’ve found is to use Rev.com who will charge $1.25 per video minute to add professional captions to your videos.
Alternatively, you can create the .srt file for your captions and then upload this to social media with your video. To create, you can type the text into Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac) and save and download it as a .srt file. Although this is still a manual process, you’ll only need to type them once rather than multiple times across different platforms.
If this sounds too technical, there is a cheat! If you manually type the captions on a Youtube upload using Youtube Studio, once you’ve saved the video you can then download the subtitles as a .srt file and use it easily across other platforms. Make sure you save the file using the template filename.en_US.srt
5. Plan some great content
Social media videos don’t need to be perfectly polished – in fact, that’s part of their appeal as users want to connect with real life people and brands. But there are some important points to remember…
As timing is crucial (we’re goldfish, remember), make the first three seconds count - get to the point and make it interesting so they have a reason to keep watching.
Give your video the best chance at being seen by encouraging engagement as well as views. Facebook and LinkedIn score content highly if it gets lots of comments, so you could end your video by asking for feedback or ask a question and prompt people to leave their answers in the comments. On TikTok your video will soar if it gets multiple views, so think about how you could encourage this with your video.
If you’re struggling for ideas on what to talk about in your videos, you could consider product demos, behind the scenes footage of your team at work, or really useful how-to videos and tips are popular – why not turn your customers’ FAQs into a mini-series?
Hopefully this has given you some guidance on how to get started with video marketing and what tools you can explore that will help you get the best out of it. The more you do it, the more confident you’ll become – give it a go! And if you make some disaster attempts, share it as a bloopers video!