If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a video might just be priceless.

The number of daily videos produced on Instagram has quadrupled in the last five years, and YouTube users watch more than a billion hours of content every day. With stats like these, it’s no wonder 87 percent of online marketers are investing in video content.

What does it take to create a top notch social video? To save you a bit of headache and a whole lot of blooper reel, we’re sharing some of our most effective tips here.

Bonus: Want to know how a viral social video creator makes millions of dollars in sales? Download the free guide now.

The 6 most important ingredients of a successful social video

1. Be platform-conscious

From YouTube to TikTok, there are dozens of different video platforms to choose from. Make sure you tailor your video accordingly, just like you would with any other content.

Here are a few quick tips for getting it right:

  • Choose platforms that engage your audience
  • The first step to creating a killer social video is deciding where to post it.

Some platforms, like Facebook, have a wide user base, attracting different ages, genders, and income levels. Others reach only a narrow demographic.

For example, Pinterest resonates with 25 to 44 year olds, while Snapchat almost exclusively attracts teens and young adults.

Before you even pick up a camera, ask yourself two questions:

  • Who am I trying to reach?
  • Why am I trying to reach them?

If you’re trying to educate your audience, consider posting your video on LinkedIn. If you’re simply trying to entertain, YouTube might be a better bet.

Size really does matter

The ideal aspect ratio for your video can vary from platform to platform. Facebook alone supports more than five different formats!

Make sure to brush up on the recommended specs for your platform of choice before producing your video. Optimize for each place you post to avoid stretched images or black bars around your content.

If you don’t have time to optimize for each platform, a 1:1 aspect ratio usually does the trick. Plus, square videos take up 78 percent more social media feed real estate than landscape (16:9), so this strategy may win you some extra attention.

Upload directly to the platform

Not all platforms are compatible with each other—another reason it’s important to optimize your videos for different social channels.

YouTube is owned by Google, a direct competitor to Facebook, which means YouTube links don’t do well on Facebook. By uploading directly to the platform, your video will look better and get up to 10x more organic shares.

Here’s an example from our own Facebook page. This (adorable) YouTube video got a little lost in our feed, but our native content really pops.

2. Be mindful of time

Our attention span is just eight seconds long—shorter than a goldfish’s! Keeping viewers engaged from start to finish is tough, but it doesn’t have to be impossible.

Keep it short and sweet

Stick to a 60-second time limit if you can.

While only five percent of people will stop watching a video after one minute, 60 percent will after two. Not only are short videos easier to finish, they also eat up less data—making them perfect for mobile viewers.

But don’t rule out long-form

Lengthier videos can make their mark too. On Facebook, videos over 90 seconds get more views and shares. On YouTube, the average mobile user session is an hour long.

But if you decide to go long, make sure your content is top notch. Luckily, brands like AirBnB and Hyundai are known for their long-form videos, so there are lots of great examples out there to learn from.

This AirBnB video about a family in Palm Springs is more than a minute long, but is one of the company’s top-performers on YouTube.

3. Optimize for mobile

Over half of all videos are viewed on mobile. For Twitter, that number is as high as 93 percent!

Here are a couple of simple tips for getting mobile friendly.

Bonus: Want to know how a viral social video creator makes millions of dollars in sales? Download the free guide now.

Get the free social video guide now!

Simplify your graphics

Make sure your visuals look great on a small screen. Think bold, bright, and—if you’re using text—legible. Remove visual clutter to boost comprehension, and test your video on several different screens before posting it.

For example, our Hootsuite Boost video uses vibrant colors and a clear, high impact font that’s easy to read, whatever the screen size.

Play it with the sound off

Most viewers will be watching your video in public spaces: on the bus, in line for coffee, at the office. This means they’re probably also watching it on mute. 85 percent of YouTube videos are now watched without sound!

Before sharing your video, do a quick sound check. Is it engaging with and without audio?

Add a compelling caption or description to help fill in any gaps, and add subtitles if needed. Bonus: subtitles will help make your video more accessible for hearing-impaired viewers.

4. Use analytics

36 percent of businesses now use some form of video analytics. Don’t be the last to the data party! Here are two ways to get analytical:

Track and improve

There are tons of helpful social media analytics tools out there. Keep tabs on how your videos are performing, and consider what you could do to improve them.

Some key questions to ask include:

  • Are people watching my videos from start to finish?
  • Are my videos underperforming on any platform?
  • Which topics are getting the most views or shares?

Reuse content with a proven track record

Analytics are also great for generating ideas for future videos.

Does your company have a blog? Dive into your user stats to identify top-performing content that could be repurposed for video.

Before settling on any idea, check whether it meets these three criteria:

  • Digestible: Is it easy to understand?
  • Condensible: Can it be communicated in 1 minute or less?
  • Visual: Could it involve a graphics element?

5. Offer quality content

It may seem obvious, but it’s still worth saying: make your content worth it.

Provide real value

Web pages with a value proposition keep visitors engaged for longer. The same is true for social video.

As adorable as cats on Roombas are, some of the top performing YouTube content is useful in some way.

Just look at our video “5 Free Sites for Awesome Social Media Images”. It was one of our most watched videos in both 2017 and 2018. Why? Our video solved a real problem for marketers, who often spend hours browsing the web for free stock photos.

Tell a story

Stories are a basic part of human nature. Plus, because storytelling actually originated with visual stories, video is the ideal medium for putting your narrative skills to the test.

As digital storytellers, we need to answer these questions:

  • Who is the hero?
  • What is the plot?
  • Does my video have a clear beginning, middle, and end?
  • What is the setting?
  • What’s the conflict?

Writing out a script, using a storyboard, or talking a colleague through the key plot points in your video are all great ways to make sure your story is strong.

Apple’s “Unlock” is an example of visual storytelling at its best. Created to announce the launch of the new iPhone X, the video grabs attention with a fast-paced plot and a surprising twist.


Get sentimental

Emotion is a powerful communication tool, just like stories. But not all emotions are created equal.

Positive messages are more shareable than negative ones. High intensity emotions—like surprise, awe, and joy—are the most shareable of all.

Videos can evoke far more emotions than photos. While not every video needs to pull at heartstrings, connecting with viewers on a human level can go a long way.

For example, our “#knowyoursocial” video combines surprise and humour and has more than 10K views on YouTube.

6. Start with a bang—and end with a call to action

We are predisposed to remember beginnings and endings better than anything else. Make sure you pack an extra punch at the start and end of your video:

The first 3 seconds are the most important

Forty-five percent of people who watch the first 3 seconds of a video will continue for at least 30 more. Hook viewers right from the start with something that sparks their interest, inspires their curiosity, or catches them off-guard.

Our Facebook video “2019 Social Trends” literally starts with a bang. The first 3 seconds are dynamic and colourful, and the question “Are You Ready for 2019?” quickly piques the viewer’s interest.

Seal the deal with a stellar CTA

Videos have one of the highest conversion rates of all content. Including a video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by as much as 80 percent.

Include a clear Call To Action at the end of your video to benefit from all the effort you’ve put in. Whether your goal is to get viewers to buy a product or simply to follow your brand, this crucial step moves your hard-won audience to the ‘next step’ in your sales funnel.

Writing a compelling CTA can take some time and experimentation. It also differs between platforms. But all awesome CTAs share a few things in common: they’re personal, straightforward, actionable—and they pay off!

Schedule and publish winning video content to all your social channels from one dashboard using Hootsuite. Save time, analyze your performance, and engage with followers in a meaningful way. Try it free today.

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