Optimizing Your Video for Social: How to Create an Oscar-Worthy Performance

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

Optimizing Your Video for Social: How to Create an Oscar-Worthy Performance

Online video is helpful, if not essential, to a successful social media strategy. However, this goes far beyond simply just uploading an existing asset to your profile. No matter what type of video,  whether it’s a television commercial to something you shot on your smartphone, uncut and poorly lit, it’s important to abide by a few key rules of thumb when posting video as part of your social strategy. So what makes an online video well suited for social media? The answers aren’t complicated, but they are crucial.

Online Video Checklist

First and foremost, you’ve got to grab the user’s attention immediately. Our tendency as a social media user is to just keep scrolling, so if you as a brand don’t grab their eyeballs and hold on for dear life, then your video is dead in the water.

Keep in mind that browsing social media feeds is an overwhelmingly mobile activity, with mobile social media time ranging between 63% for those over 50 years old and 78% for those between the ages of 18 to 34. With users scrolling through a never-ending feed full of more and more content to discover, you have very little time to grab their attention.

Data from Facebook and Nielsen shows that 47% of the value of a video campaign comes within the initial three seconds of a video and 75% from the initial ten seconds. Auto-play will give you a hand here, since it immediately immerses the user into your video as soon as it pops up in their feed, but then it’s up to you to keep them there. That makes the first few seconds incredibly important in your video.

Next, make sure you test vertical video. Since the majority of viewers of your social media video will be on their mobile devices oriented to portrait mode, you shouldn’t make them have to rotate their devices to get the full effect of your video. Spoiler alert: they won’t. Creating a video oriented towards the way the viewers are already using their device is especially important when targeting a younger generation. Utilizing vertical video will also demand more attention from the user as it will utilize the majority of the viewing screen.

Beyond ensuring your video is attention-grabbing off the bat and vertically oriented, you should expect viewers to watch the video without sound. The majority of auto-played videos default to having the sound disabled, and research from Digiday shows that the majority of people (up to 85%) never turn the sound on for a video in their feed.

If you don’t create a video that communicates your message without sound, then it doesn’t stand a chance of capturing most viewers’ interest. Instead,emphasize visually appealing shots and incorporate subtitles or text to communicate your message if words are even required. That’s why becoming a visual storyteller has gained so much importance in online video.

Finally, choose your thumbnail wisely. Social media users do have the option to disable auto-play for videos in their feeds. If they do that, then a compelling thumbnail image for your video is the best way to intrigue users enough to click and watch your video. Think of your thumbnail as your call-to-action to press play.

So let’s put that into a quick checklist you can utilize whenever you’re going to post a video on social media. Ask yourself:

  1. Will this capture the attention of the audience within the first few seconds?
  2. Am I utilizing vertical video to better optimize for my mobile users?
  3. Do I need audio to fully tell this video story?
  4. Would my chosen thumbnail entice users to click the play button?

If you answer “no” to any of these questions, maybe rethink how your video plays into your social media strategy and the best practices of social video.

It’s not hard to make an online video, but it can be challenging to make a compelling online video that reaches who you want and where you want in the sales funnel. Luckily, we’re here to help. Get in touch and see how G/L Content Studios and our social team can create targeted social and digital video campaigns for your brand.

Dogs: (Un)Scientifically Proven to Be the Best Pet

Shawn Maher

Dogs: (Un)Scientifically Proven to Be the Best Pet

Look, we’ll be the first to admit we’re biased here. When someone brings their dog to the office, productivity plummets to someone-put-ambien-in-the-water-supply levels. So in this week’s trends discussion, it’s no wonder that our tails were wagging for this Milk-Bone commercial. 

It’s like the old advertising adage goes: if you don’t have a competitive advantage, then use humor. If you can make the humor on-brand? So much the better. Anyone familiar with dogs is familiar with Milk-Bone. And Milk-Bone knows that we dog people are loyal to our pups to a fault. So this new spot is really Pavlovian in how it got us responding. 

As Dave said in our meeting, it’s old school and over the top, sure. But dogs are old school, and their affection for their owners is nothing if not over-the-top. And that’s why we love them. In this day of irony and disaffected attitudes (read: cat owners) and hyper-individuality (read: owners of pets you never knew were even domesticated), it just feels good sometimes to run around like an idiot in a park without worrying about what the world has to say. 

Is this the Cadillac of Brand Manifesto Ads?

Shawn Maher

Is this the Cadillac of Brand Manifesto Ads?

One of the most interesting trends we discussed this week was Cadillac’s new ad campaign. Especially since it premiered on the red carpet. Well, that is if the commercial breaks during the Oscars can be considered the red carpet. Still, it’s definitely a primo ad placement. 

Cadillac’s new CMO is launching his first campaign. It features a brand manifesto that harkens to other campaigns that helped embattled automakers make a U-turn. Jeep found new life in a brand manifesto ad during the Super Bowl. Will Cadillac do the same? 

This Spike Lee ad (not to be confused with a Spike Lee joint) shows the filmmaker delivering Cadillac’s manifesto while the viewer tours their flagship Escalade. It has an experiential vibe, which should resonate with millennials who grew up watching Spike Lee movies and seeing him courtside at Knicks games. And SUV sales are on the rise, even while younger generations are driving less. Plus, the copywriting is great…and of course a copywriter loves a copy-heavy ad campaign.  

So will it work? Escalade sales saw a big leap in 2018 compared to previous years but only a modest gain in 2019. However, over the past decade sales have largely trended upward. But with more and more luxury brands getting into the SUV game, Cadillac is positioning themselves to stake their claim and defend their place atop of the heap. If they have the horsepower to do it successfully remains to be seen. 

Is Email Marketing Effective? Depends on Where You Work.

Tim Leon
President/Brand Strategist

Is Email Marketing Effective? Depends on Where You Work.

First of all, let’s get this out of the way. Email is important to digital marketing. Really important. There, we’ve said it. But recent benchmark statistics from Campaign Monitor reveal some really interesting trends

These 2019 statistics show that, in terms of open rates, the public sector is head and shoulders above private sector companies. That means that categories like government, non-profits, education and others are really outpacing private sector companies like those in retail. 

So why is that? 

I’m thinking that is because consumers are simply more likely to open emails that aren’t trying to sell them consumer goods. Think about all the emails you get from all the brands you’ve purchased goods from in the past. That doesn’t even mean that you’re not receptive! But there are only so many times I can buy a new truck. Sorry, Chevy, those sales look good but I’m set for a while. I’ll check out your deals in a few years. 

But the good news is that open rates aren’t really the important statistic here. Opening an email is nice, but taking action is what really benefits brands. That’s why clickthrough rates are what really matters to me, and I’m sure many other marketers, as well. 

The average clickthrough rates across ALL industries is 2.4%. And the industries that beat that average? They include media, entertainment and publishing companies, with Thursday being the best day for clickthroughs. Maybe that’s because consumers are planning their weekend and lining up their entertainment activities for the weekend. I know I’m getting my Neftlix queue primed for the weekend. 

All in all, the rumors of email’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated, to paraphrase our neighbor up north in Hannibal, Mark Twain. It just depends on what industry you’re in. But the one thing that holds true for any industry is that compelling content, placed where and when is best suited for the target audience, is always a successful strategy. Get in touch and we’ll find a digital strategy that is perfectly tailored to your industry and your customers. 

Budweiser: Subverting the Expected

Shawn Maher

Budweiser: Subverting the Expected

If you’re like us, or even if you’re not, you’re probably buzzing about the slate of ads for this year’s Big Game. Being St. Louis born, bred and based, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the biggest brewer in a historically great beer town. 

That fairly well-known brewery in Soulard renowned for their beechwood aging aired a spot during the Big Game. And it pulled a trick on viewers that we had a great time picking apart during our trends meeting. 


The “typical Americans” trope is often said in a derogatory tone much in the same manner a beer aficionado might say “typical American lager.” However, the King of Beers turned that trope on its head in this spot. Budweiser used real-life footage that seems like it could have been pulled from YouTube… or perhaps a cynic might theorize that it was only made to look amateurish but was actually carefully planned, but we like to look at the sunny side around here. As it plays, the copy seemingly contradicted in theory, but actually highlighted, everyday Americans doing the little things that make a big difference in people’s lives. It subverted expectations to great effect.

Maybe we can forget the beauty in being ordinary in a way that we take for granted, much in the same way we can take anything in our lives for granted. But this commercial illustrates the bonds between hardworking Americans and the hardworking beer that we drink at Cardinals games… or even possibly share with your old man as he reminisces about the blood, sweat and tears he poured into his job.

And okay, maybe your old man is viewing the past through rose-colored glasses. And maybe a great barrel-aged stout is super impressive. Between the two of us, the sangria slushies at Busch Stadium are pretty dang tasty in all honesty. But we dare you to name a beer more associated with baseball, BBQs and kicking back after a hard day at work. Budweiser isn’t fighting the rise of the microbrew. They’re staking their claim. It’s a bold move from that plucky brewery over on Broadway Ave.