The lights and camera may have changed, but the Action! is still the same. Thanks to social media, video marketing has never been more popular. Brands can make a stronger, more personal impact than with text or photos, and at the same time they give people their favorite type of content on the internet. Everyone wins… except people who don’t know much about video marketing on social media.
That’s where this guide comes in. Here, you’ll find the best strategies and tips for social media video marketing, divided by platform. We break down what the users on each platform want and expect from their videos, as well as some different approaches to take for ads, stories, and regular posts. But first, let’s talk a little about why online videos work so well in the first place.
Why is video marketing on social media so important?
- Video drives 41% more organic traffic and generates 49% more revenue
- 64% of people are more likely to make a purchase online after watching a video
- 54% of people want more videos from brands they follow
- Video marketing produces 66% more qualified leads per year
We don’t want to get bogged down by statistics, so when we talk about video marketing on social media, there’s only one number you need to remember: 1200%. That’s how many more shares video content gets on social media, compared to text and images combined!
Now, you can’t just post any video online and then open a new bank account for the millions of dollars coming in overnight. You have to post the right video on the right platform, but what makes a video right largely depends on the brand and its business goals.
You have a variety of options for what kind of video to make—explainers, live streams, how-tos, commercials—but also a rainbow of styles, tones, and cinematic techniques to encapsulate your own unique brand personality. To learn what types of videos are best for your brand and goals, check out our Ultimate guide to video marketing.
How to master social media video marketing on any platform
As the social media platform with the most users, Facebook is a great place to start marketing. With their wide reach—both geographically and in terms of taste—Facebook offers marketers the chance to connect with any group they want. The platform also provides a variety of options for brands: you can upload videos as regular posts, host them as ads to target niches, or live stream them at Facebook Live for a more personal approach.
Prioritize visuals. Everyone’s Facebook feeds are full of eye-catching visuals, so you have to outshine the competition if you want the views. Make sure your video looks compelling to entice people to actually watch it—this is doubly important considering that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. Don’t forget the closed captioning for the same reason!
Upload directly to Facebook. As opposed to sharing a link to YouTube or another site, if you upload your videos directly to Facebook, they receive a boost from Facebook’s own algorithm. That means native Facebook videos show up in feeds more than non-native videos do.
Group videos into playlists. If your followers like one of your videos, they may want to watch more of the same. Facilitate this by organizing your videos into playlists, clearly labeled for easy browsing.
Customize audience. Arguably the best part about marketing on Facebook is fine-tuning your audience, and video ads are no different. Use your analytics to target your ideal viewers as specifically as possible. Age, location, even personal interests—views cost money, so make each one count.
Call-to-action. Considering that these are ads rather than more casual posts, be sure to include a call-to-action. If your ad successfully “hooked” the viewer and they want to know more, you have to tell them what to do next or risk losing them. Even something subtle like “click here for more information” will deliver better results than nothing.
Host a Q&A. Facebook Live allows real-time interaction with your followers, so press that advantage by hosting Q&A videos. Have followers type in questions and answer them live on camera. Not only is this type of video cheap and easy to produce, it also forges stronger, more personal bonds with followers.
Share follow-up posts. It’s called Facebook Live, not Facebook Whenever It’s Convenient. Naturally, some people will miss the live stream simply because they’re not online at the time. To catch these viewers, share a follow-up post linking back to the archived video. You can even post new questions to elicit new comments, or thank viewers who showed up to the live stream by name to encourage more people to tune in next time.
Although Facebook still has the top slot, Instagram is on the rise (and without Facebook’s bad press). If this continues, Instagram may very well unseat its parent company. All the more reason to start building your base there now.
Based on their new features, Instagram seems to encourage more video content. Aside from video posts and ads, they also introduced live streaming in Instagram Stories and released a sister app, IGTV, which operates similarly to YouTube.
Choose a theme. While other social media platforms revolve around the user (or brand), Instagram accounts tend to be thematic. You have foodie users, fashion users, artsy users, etc., and people follow the users who adhere to themes they like. Give your videos a consistent theme, whether topics, visual style, or a regular setting.
Let your videos do the talking. Instagram has always been about visuals, so its users aren’t interested in long captions. Keep your descriptions short and poignant and make your main points in the video.
Keep it under a minute. There’s a 60-second time limit for Instagram videos, so keep it short. Save more in-depth videos like how-tos, Q&As, and short films for other platforms.
Customize your audience like Facebook. Instagram uses a similar “campaign objectives” system as Facebook, its owner. So if you’ve found something that works well for your Facebook ads, try it here as well. Otherwise, figure out your specific target audience beforehand and hone in on them.
Short, sweet, and minimal effort. Instagram Stories have an even shorter time limit—15 seconds—and they disappear after 24 hours like Snapchat. That means don’t spend too much time or money perfecting these; rather, feel free to be impulsive and personal, like a video status update. Instagram Stories are best for interacting with your followers (especially if you’re live streaming) or checking in briefly.
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When NASA issued a challenge to help them track the thousands of asteroids and comets orbiting around Earth, Gema Parreño answered the call. Her project, Deep Asteroid, uses TensorFlow, Google’s machine learning tool, to help NASA identify which ones need to be watched more closely. #royalobservatorymadrid
Think like a vlogger. IGTV works like YouTube, so you want to follow the same basic strategies a professional vlogger would. If you’re unfamiliar with the platform, check out our guide on IGTV.
YouTube is the social media platform for videos. In fact, it’s more for videos than social media. Most videos on the internet wind up on YouTube. And because there’s so much emphasis on videos, and
so much competition, being good at YouTube means being good at video marketing.
Use keywords in your title. YouTube is a big, messy swamp of videos, so even quality content can get lost there. Make your videos searchable by using keywords in the title. If your strategy incorporates how-tos or instructionals, try long-tail keywords of the questions you’re answering; for example, if your video explains why the sky is blue, include the question “Why is the sky blue?” in your title.
Find your niche. YouTube can accommodate any video, including all the ones on our list in the Ultimate guide to video marketing. That affords you the freedom to experiment and try different styles, tones, and formats until you find one that clicks.
Post regularly. As the social media platform for videos, your followers will expect new videos on a schedule. Not only should you post regularly (at least once a week), but it also helps to post at the same times so your followers know when to check your feed.
Like and subscribe CTAs. It’s already a joke on YouTube—everyone’s always begging you to “like and subscribe.” Well, the reason it’s overused is because it works; repeating these things to viewers reminds them to do it, and each new like and subscription helps your video rank better in search feeds. So don’t forget to mention liking and subscribing in the video itself… just try to do it in a fresh way that doesn’t make viewers roll their eyes.
Not all ad types are the same. YouTube offers a few different varieties of ads, with your choice of whether they can be skipped, where they come in the video, and whether you pay by clicks or views. We don’t want to take up too much time explaining it here, but you can see for yourself at the YouTube Advertising page.
Think Twitter is just for text content? Then why do video tweets get 10x more interactions than non-video tweets? The truth is, Twitter is just as lucrative for social media marketing as any other platform—maybe even more.
As with the other platforms, users can post videos normally as Tweets, or pay for video ads. Both have their own best practices.
The first 3 seconds. A general rule of thumb for Twitter—both posts and ads — is that shorter is better. In particular, you want some kind of hook in the first three seconds, hopefully an emotional one. Twitter users scroll fast, so even if you manage to hook them at the beginning, don’t keep them idle for long with lengthy videos.
Subtitles and closed captioning. Most Twitter videos are watched without sound. That means include closed captioning for all users, not just for those with disabilities.
Trend of targeting trends. Many people use Twitter as a news source and way to stay up-to-date. That’s why topical and trending content is 32% more likely to be viewed. Keep an eye on the top hashtags and “join the conversation,” as Twitter recommends.
Under 15 seconds. We weren’t kidding when we said to keep it short. According to a Twitter study, ads 15 seconds or less performed best at memory encoding, producing similar results as a longer, 30-second TV spot.
When Snapchat first came out, brands viewed it as juvenile—a social media platform for kids and teenagers. And while Snapchat’s numbers are highest among younger markets, today those same brands that wrote it off are scrambling to break through. After all, those kids make up a profitable segment of customers, but you have to speak their language.
Snapchat was the first to originate the 24-hour time limit, which allows users to be a little more intimate and a little less prepared. Your social media video marketing strategy should incorporate that, aiming your Snapchat videos at more informal conversations with your followers.
Take advantage of filters, lenses and effects. Call it immature if you want, but Snapchat and its users enjoy a degree of silliness. We saw it before with the dog filter trend, and we’re seeing it again now with the gender-swapping lenses. That’s the preferred culture of Snapchat, so either loosen up about your self-image, or get a younger employee to represent your brand there. For more ambitious marketers, you can even design your own Snapchat filter and work to make it viral.
Don’t forget to smile emoji. Following suit, don’t shy away from emoji in your Snapchat text. Again, the younger audience dominates here, and most of them speak emoji fluently.
Quick and personal. Because of their temporary nature, you don’t want to spend too much time and effort on your posts. Follow the advice we outlined above for Instagram Stories and keep to casual posts.
Internal external links. Aside from sponsored lenses and filters, you can also run traditional video ads. However, unlike other social media video marketing, Snapchat ads offer a unique twist—the ability for viewers to interact with the ad and go to another location without leaving the Snapchat app. Because every extra step reduces the likelihood of a conversion, it’s a big deal that Snapchat facilitates taking users directly to your product page, landing page, app install page, or even a longer version of the same video hosted elsewhere.
The youngest entry into the social media industry is the most downloaded app of 2018. And while it’s exciting that TikTok provides a new social media frontier for marketers to explore, its newness also makes it uncharted territory with little precedent to draw on. Nonetheless, TikTok has been around long enough for some substantial trends to have emerged.
The spiritual successor to Vine. If you were a successful on Vine, the short-form video social media platform of the early 2010s, just do on TikTok what you did there. The same best practices apply to TikTok—short, energetic videos with a potent punchline. Like other videos with a time limit, you want yours to be more casual and carefree; but TikTok doesn’t have an automatic expiration like Snapchat, so you can invest more time and resources into a single video.
Typically topical. Like on Twitter, TikTok users tend to trend. Hashtags are very important, especially hashtag challenges. Participating in whatever challenges match your brand is a smart way to break into your TikTok community fast.
Shoot vertical (against your own instincts). There seems to be a war brewing between vertical video and horizontal video, and TikTok doesn’t hide which side its own. It’s best to resist your fondness for the horizontal style of TV and film and go with the pack.
…Wait. It’s worth noting that TikTok only introduced advertising into their platform in January 2019, and as of this writing they don’t yet have an advertising service open to all. That’s just as well, as they’re still ironing out the wrinkles, in particular the backlash from their users. In other words, your campaign would be more effective if you waited a few more months until TikTok’s ad platform ripens.
Now’s the time for video marketing on social media!
With all this talk about video marketing on social media, you might still be wondering how to actually make a video. Chances are you’ve never worked on a film crew, and can’t tell apart a boom from a dolly. Don’t worry, you’re not supposed to.
If you want to learn more about the video production process, check out our guide on how to create a video.