Feb 28, 2020

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

Melissa Ross G/L Approach, General, Social Media, Strategy
Melissa Ross Social Media Manager

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.