The 4 Key Ingredients of a Perfect Social Video

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If the perfect social video were a cake, what would go into making it? We talked to Hootsuite’s in-house video expert, Derek Saddler, to find out the four key ingredients you need to bake a delicious piece of content.

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1. It’s short and sweet

According to a survey conducted by Animoto, nearly two-thirds of consumers prefer video under 60 seconds.

That’s why Saddler recommends keeping your social video between 30 and 90 seconds long. Attention spans are short and you want to keep viewers engaged.

Here’s a few ways to ensure your video holds the audience’s attention:

  • If your video includes text, keep the word count to a minimum. You don’t want your viewer to be reading the entire time instead of watching the actual video. Your audience’s time is precious, so try to get your message across with as few of words as possible. At Hootsuite, when we repurpose a blog post into a social video we’ll often cut it down from eight tips to three, like we did in this video.

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  • Use numbered lists to keep people engaged. This makes the video content easy-to-follow.
  • Get the pacing right. Make sure the text doesn’t go by too fast or too slow. To test pacing, Saddler suggests reading the text out loud. Make sure it’s slow enough that leisurely readers can pick it up, but not so slow that it drags—you might lose your viewer’s attention.

2. It’s optimized for specific platforms and devices

Consider which platform you will share the video on (Facebook? YouTube?), and how your viewers will watch it (on a laptop or mobile device?). Your goal is to deliver the best experience.

Here are some quick tips for optimizing videos for different devices and platforms:

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Read more about optimizing video for each network in How to Optimize Video for Different Social Media Channels.

3. It includes descriptive text or subtitles

Silent film is making a comeback. As we mentioned above, 85 percent of videos on Facebook are watched without sound. Here’s how to cater to your silent viewers:

  • Include subtitles. Add captions so that people can follow your video without listening to it. In fact, Facebook reports that captioning a video increases average watch time by 12 percent.
  • Include a description of your video. It’s important to provide your user with context before they click on a video, as it gives them a reason to watch the video. This can be a summary, reaction, quote from the video, or a teaser. For example, National Geographic uses their description copy for fun facts in their their Animal close-ups video series.

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  • If your video needs to be played with the sound on—say it. This is another reason why a video description is so important. Leave an instruction in your video description to have the sound on if it’s essential. We did this in the video we created to celebrate the solar eclipse.

Want to know more about creating video with the sound off? Check out our post on Silent Video: How to Optimize Facebook Video to Play Without Sound.

4. It has a clear call to action

Saddler says one of the biggest mistakes marketers can make is not including a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of their social video. Having a CTA ensures that the engagement doesn’t stop after the video is over, but guides viewers to the next step—whether it’s a landing page, email subscription page, or purchase. Here’s how to craft an effective CTA:

  • Use actionable language. The whole point of a CTA is to get your viewer to take an action after consuming your content. Your audience should know exactly what to do and what they’ll receive once they’ve done it. Use verbs such as “discover,” “find,” or “explore.”
  • Have a clear value proposition. If you want the reader to take a certain action, you have to offer something of value. A good CTA with a clear value prop answers the question, “What’s in it for me?” Take Prezi’s main webpage, for example. Its value proposition for Prezi Next is “everything you need for your most dynamic and engaging presentation ever.”

  • Forget the jargon. When it comes to CTAs, clarity is key. Don’t try to sound smart at the expense of being clear.
  • Don’t have too many CTAs. We recommend sticking to one CTA so that the message is crystal clear. If you add too many CTAs in one post, there’s a good chance your audience will get overwhelmed and fail to click anywhere.

Here’s an example of an effective CTA: learn more about creating compelling CTAs in our guide to writing effective CTAs for social media.