Optimizing your videos for social media requires utilizing various strategies to ensure your content aligns with a platform’s specifications, attains a high view count, and successfully engages an audience. Posting videos blindly without these considerations will undoubtedly lead to disappointing analytics that may leave you questioning your entire campaign. However, it’s possible to have a strong concept and clear goal, while lacking the comprehensive knowledge of what sets certain videos apart. In this blog, I’ll expand upon the list of tips in Ways to Increase Video Engagement by detailing specific specifications and considerations for the most popular social media sites for posting video content: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.
How To Make Social Media Videos
Since a video production can take a lot of time and energy, why not maximize all of the tools at your disposal to increase the odds of viewer engagement? Before you post a video to any social media site, do your research. You want to find the best platform(s) for your content to optimize views and shares. You may want to post across multiple platforms, but depending on site specifications, you may need to alter certain elements of your video to align with particular sites.
Have a Social Media Video Marketing Plan
Prior to posting video content, the first step is to determine the goals for your video. Are you launching a new product, starting a company, sharing a new commercial, or trying to expand your audience? Zeroing in on your goals helps inform certain decisions, such as which platform to use, what type of video content to produce, and the demographics and sensibilities of your target audience.
You also want to consider the broader scope of your campaign. For maximum reach, you’ll probably want to shoot multiple videos over a period of time. Plan ahead so that each video fits into the plan for the larger whole. You’ll want to balance each video standing on its own in a unique way while also maintaining a certain continuity for your brand or mission. Once you settle on your overall vision, it’s time to select the best platform(s) for your content.
Social Media Video Platforms
Facebook remains king of social media websites, with almost 40% of the world’s population using the site. Hundreds of millions of businesses also use Facebook’s tools to promote and advertise their companies. Facebook differs from YouTube when it comes to video marketing because it only shows your videos to your followers and friends of your followers. Videos with wide appeal tend to do better on Facebook, with entertainment being a primary prerequisite. This means posting videos that are visually stunning or that include unique stories or intriguing facts.
A vast majority of Facebookers watch videos without sound, so make sure you include legible text for them to follow along. Of course, you should also include traditional sound and music, but supplement it with text just in case.
Facebook Live is another video option. It helps to have an established audience, but we all have to start somewhere. One of the benefits of Facebook Live is that it allows for interactivity with your viewers; you can ask questions and respond to comments in real-time. The live broadcast is then archived on your account and can be shared in the future.
Facebook prefers you to upload your videos directly to the site as opposed to posting a link that leads users to another site. Zuckerberg wants you all to himself, so Facebook’s algorithm will limit engagements and exposure if it’s not a direct upload.
If you are a business, brand, or organization, you should have a business page on Facebook. Facebook allows you to create posts that serve as advertisements, which is great for video content. You can specify your target audience down to age, sex, location in the world, interests, and other characteristics.
Facebook Video Specifications
Standard video size: 1280 x 720 pixels
Other video formats on Facebook require different sizes:
Facebook Messenger video ads: 1280×720 px
In-stream video ads: 1280×720 pixels
Facebook 360 videos: 4096×2048 px and a 2:1 aspect ratio
Collection video ads: 1200×628 px
Slideshow video ads: 1280×720 px
Carousel video ads: 1080×1080 pixels
Whereas Facebook can be more text-heavy, Instagram relies more on captivating images, including videos. This is important to keep in mind for your video content because users are typically scrolling through one post at a time. The first image they see is vital for getting that click.
Close to 400 million people use Instagram Stories, which provides a slideshow format and disappears after 24 hours. These stories can be enhanced with different graphics, stickers, and text. Don’t overdo it, but utilize these tools if they enhance your video. Stories are useful for frequent posting of behind-the-scenes footage or daily living content.
Another unique feature of Instagram is the use of hashtags. Hashtags allow users to file and search for specific content. These are typically included at the end of your other written content. Hashtags can help tap into an existing audience, start a user-generated content campaign, and allow attendees at a specific event, like a wedding or art expo, to upload their memories in one place.
You can also link your Instagram to Twitter and share your video content there. Twitter is not as video-heavy, but it does also utilize hashtags. As a secondary option for your content, why not?
Video content tends to be shorter on Instagram, so a brief advertisement could find a home on this platform as well. Check out my previous blog, What to Post on Instagram for more tips.
Instagram Video Specifications
Standard video size: 1080×1080 pixels
It’s important to note that Instagram videos are always square, but you can share horizontal or vertical content. However, if your framing is off, Instagram may crop your image in a non-preferred way to fit their square. Be mindful of how you shoot your videos to avoid cutting off people’s heads or other important aspects of the image.
In-feed video ads: 600×500 px
Vertical video: 1080×1350 px
Carousel video ads: 1080×1080 px
Stories video ads: 1080×1920 px
YouTube is the reigning champion of video content. The site allows users to post a variety of videos at varying lengths, which means it’s really whatever you want your channel to be.
YouTube is great for trailers, short films, webinars, music videos, tutorials, and more. You can also create playlists of your favorite content. Organize the content on your channel into playlists so that viewers will automatically be fed the next video once they finish watching the first one.
Some keywords YouTube users often search for include: “How to…” and “Best way to…”. Including search phrases like these in your titles, when appropriate, will bump you to the head of the line and increase the chance of your video being seen.
Thumbnail images are always crucial and YouTube is no exception. Mr. Beast, one of the most popular content creators of all time, with 92.7 million subscribers, recently spoke about his current strategy with thumbnails. He said he’s trying to get them to tell their own story. He added that since users traditionally view content from left to right, he’s made thumbnails that include some sort of a setup on the left half and a reveal on the right half. This level of attention to detail may seem obsessive, but clearly he’s doing something right.
YouTube Video Specifications
Standard video size: 1920×1080 pixels
Although YouTube’s video player is widescreen format (16:9 aspect ratio) it is flexible and most formats are supported.
TikTok is the fastest growing social media platform. It became wildly popular at the height of the pandemic when we were all stuck inside and although it is still full of cringey teenage dance videos, its video content is now broad-ranging and used by many popular brands. Whatever you want to view on TikTok, you can easily find it.
The most popular videos on TikTok are less than 15 seconds long. This underscores the necessity of having a strong hook at the start of your video. There’s no time to waste as users have itchy scrolling thumbs.
TikTok videos are often funny, engaging, and force users to tell a story in a short amount of time which encourages creativity. Creators have played multiple characters, used props in their studio apartment, and launched brands from the comfort of their own homes.
TikTok utilizes various trends like dubbing a popular audio over your video content. It’s fun to see creators’ different interpretations of these audio clips. You can also “stitch” another person’s video, which essentially involves showing a portion of the other creator’s video followed by your response.
TikTok Video Specifications
Standard video size: 1080×1920 pixels
Vertical videos are recommended for Tiktok, but they do allow horizontal.
Aspect ratio: 9:16 (the standard smart-phone screen size). A 1:1 aspect ratio can be used, but will not be full-screen.
Video Optimization and Analytics
Understanding the analytics of your videos is vital to increasing optimization. Imagine being a baseball team manager who is blind to each player’s stats. How would you know who to put where or which pitcher to bring in during the 9th inning? Things could get messy pretty quickly, but it wouldn’t necessarily mean that you didn’t have the tools, but rather that you’re just not using them properly.
Analytics are important because they offer clues to what is working and what is not. If you know a particular format or style of video is getting more audience engagement, then it would be wise to replicate these features for maximum viewership. Conversely, if a particular video is not working, analytics can help you understand why.
Are viewers bailing on the video after 20 seconds? Then maybe the hook isn’t strong enough. It may also mean putting your Call-To-Action that was at the end of the video upfront to ensure that it’s being viewed. Is the video simply not getting any clicks? Perhaps the thumbnail isn’t engaging enough. Did the 30-second commercial on TikTok get many more views than the 3-minute video on YouTube? Analytics can help inform these minor adjustments and make all the difference in achieving your goals.
In order to optimize your videos for social media, there is a lot to keep in mind. First, have a vision for your video(s). What is the larger goal you are trying to accomplish? The answer to this question will likely inform your creative and business decisions. Do your homework on various platforms and understand their specifications. Consider the length of your video and other features. Additionally, always keep an eye on each of your video’s analytics. This will tell you what’s working and what’s not. In order to optimize your video, you need to maximize your understanding of what is most effective with an audience in order to replicate it. I hope these tips will be helpful the next time you try to get the most from your social media video post.