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How to optimise your videos for the most popular social platforms
Chloe Edgley gravatar avitar

How to optimise your videos for the most popular social platforms

Author: Chloe Edgley | Posted on: 28 February 2018

Optimising video content for social

It won’t come as a surprise to most marketers to hear that video has consistently been the best performing post type on most social channels for some time now. After all, Wordstream reports that:

  • 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos every week

  • 82% of Twitter users watch video content on Twitter

  • More than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day

  • More video content is uploaded in 30 days than the major U.S. television networks have created in 30 years

No wonder it’s become the digital marketer’s format of choice. It’s even been estimated that by 2020, over 80% of all consumer internet traffic will consist of video. Social video has, therefore, become an incredibly powerful tool for reaching out to target audiences, but taking advantage of this trend can be a little daunting at first. It’s one thing to come up with a great idea for a video, but it’s another thing entirely to figure out how to make that video work on social media - especially if you’re unfamiliar with how each platform functions.

We’ve put together a comprehensive list of tips for optimising your videos for some of the most popular social channels, so you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your efforts every time.


Optimise video for Facebook

  1. Include captions: Facebook automatically starts playing videos on mute as users scroll down their feeds, which means that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. It’s therefore essential to include easily readable captions, and to make sure it is visually clear enough to be enjoyed without audio.

  1. Start out strong: Facebook tends to favour videos with a high ‘completion’ rate i.e. videos that users watch all the way to the end, as this indicates it contains interesting content. The easiest way to get higher completion rates is by keeping things brief (1-2 minutes). That said, the best video length really does depend on what it's about, so consider this one carefully. Regardless of length, make sure you start out strong to hook attention: one study found that up to 47% of value should be provided in the first 3 seconds, and 74% in the first 10.

  1. Upload your video directly to Facebook: Don’t just embed or link to a video that was posted on another platform. Studies have shown that native videos get 109% higher interaction rates and 477% higher share rates than YouTube videos uploaded to Facebook.

  1. Use a square format: Consumption of content from mobiles has been on a dramatic upsurge for the last couple of years - and when someone’s scrolling through a social feed on their phone, they don’t want to have to flip their phone over to watch a landscape video. Make sure you use a 1:1 aspect ratio, which has been shown to result in 30-35% higher views and an 80-100% increase in engagement.

  1. Take advantage of the algorithms: Other options for incorporating visuals into your content include things like pictures, graphics and GIFs - but many don’t realise that these are ranked less highly than video by Facebook’s algorithms. Including these alternatives is great - but make sure it’s not at the expense of video content.


Optimising video for Twitter

  1. Include your brand logo: Studies have shown that when a company includes their brand logo in a Twitter video, purchase intent increases by around 9%. Make sure you feature yours and make the most of the opportunity to make an impact.

  1. Use native video: Much like Facebook, videos that are uploaded directly to Twitter achieve much better results than linked or embedded videos from third parties. Specifically, native videos tend to receive 2.5X the replies, 2.8X the retweets, and 1.9X the favorites of other videos.

  1. Make it eye-catching: Twitter’s character limit encourages punchy and short posts - which also means that users tend to scroll through their Twitter feeds much faster than on other social platforms. It’s important that your video is visually arresting enough to catch their attention so users don’t simply breeze by.


Optimising your video for Instagram

  1. Take advantage of the stories feature: Instagram stories are 10-second picture or video clips that appear at the top of a user’s feed and disappear after 24 hours. They’re perfect for fun updates and creating an extra impression on your audience. It’s also worth noting that accounts with 10,000 or more followers can include ‘swipe up’ links on their stories to direct users to content on their site, which is a great tool to bear in mind for after you’ve built up an audience.

  1. Make it aesthetically pleasing: Instagram’s premise capitalises on the success of visual content by devoting its entire experience to visuals. This means that your video doesn’t just need to stand out against text posts, but against other visually interesting videos and images. Try to pay attention to things like composition and colour balance to make your post as aesthetically enjoyable as possible, which covers most of what’s successful on this platform.

  1. Square and portrait formats: Instagram is almost exclusively used by mobile users, so - much like with Facebook - it’s important to optimise your video for this format. Videos with a 1:1 aspect ratio work best for normal posts, but for posts using the stories function you should go for a 9:16 ratio. This is because when a user views a story post, it enlarges to portrait mode to fill their phone screen.

  2. Use external apps: Instagram has created a few extra apps to enhance its user experience and which can be used to quickly create fun and engaging videos. One of the most popular is Boomerang, which allows you to create a looping video that you can post to Instagram like a GIF. Another is Hyperlapse, which you can use to create time-lapse videos.


Optimising Video for LinkedIn

  1. Focus on thought leadership: LinkedIn is designed for professionals to connect with one another and share industry knowledge, so this theme should be consistent with any videos you publish to the platform. Use videos here as an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and share industry insights.

  1. Keep it within 2 minutes: LinkedIn allows for fairly long videos of up to ten minutes and analytics reveal that longer articles are more readily viewed by LinkedIn readers. This means that you can certainly afford to go into a little more depth than you might on other social channels, but bear in mind that these are also busy professionals and that your insights will be valued more if they’re concise and condensed into easily digestible chunks. Studies tend to show, therefore, that even here the best video posts usually stick within the two minute mark.


Optimising your video for YouTube

  1. Collaborate with influencers: 60% of YouTube subscribers follow buying advice from their favorite YouTube creators over the advice of television and film personalities. Influencer marketing is becoming an increasingly popular and effective tool, particularly for reaching younger audiences, so if you have the budget and an influencer in mind who fits with your brand identity, this technique is well worth considering.

  1. Include a call to action: This is a good tip regardless of platform, but YouTube specifically offers features in their creator studio (referred to as annotations, cards, and end-screen templates) that allow you to overlay text boxes, thumbnails, and links on top of your video. These allow for a lot of great opportunities to prompt viewers to look at other content or make a purchase.

  1. Crosslink videos: Unlike on other platforms, users on YouTube are specifically on the site to watch videos. This means that they’re typically more willing to continue watching videos in a series, or to follow links to related videos, than they would be on other platforms, where users are more likely to finish the video and continue scrolling their feed. Take advantage of this and try to cross-link your videos to retain that viewership and prompt users towards more content.

And finally, some general tips that apply to all of these platforms:

Optimising Video for Social Media

  1. Take advantage of live video: videos focused on a live event increase favourability of a brand by a huge 63%. The popularity of this feature is on the rise, and live videos achieve some of the highest engagement rates because of their ability to inspire excitement. Most of the above platforms now offer live video features, so it’s a function well worth considering.

  1. Don’t forget about SEO: Just because you’re posting a video instead of a text post, this doesn’t mean that keywords and search optimisation become any less important. After all, YouTube is now the second largest search engine in the world, so make sure your title or caption does a good job of targeting your audience. (And when on Instagram: don’t forget that a single hashtag can result in 11% more engagement.)

Social video is a fast growing and fast evolving strategy, and marketers will play a big role in shaping its future. These tips offer a rough guideline for getting the most out of each platform, but don’t be afraid to experiment and adapt depending on how your audience responds. It’s also worth noting that no matter how perfectly optimised your videos are for the platform you’re posting to, they won’t get very far unless the content itself is valuable and engaging. Make sure you figure out what you’re posting with a strong strategy first, and nail down how you post it later.

Related content

How to get social media savvy before a product launch

The perfect social media post

Which social media platforms are right for you


Author: Chloe Edgley

Chloe Edgley gravatar avitar
Chloe is our copywriter here at Ember Television. Her interest in telling stories led her to study English with Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham, where she developed a specialised interest in screenwriting and digital media.
How to optimise your videos for the most popular social platforms



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