The 4 Key Ingredients of a Perfect Social Video

If the perfect social video were a cake, what would go into making it? We talked to Hootsuite’s in-house video expert, Derek Saddler, to find out the four key ingredients you need to bake a delicious piece of content.

1. It’s short and sweet

According to a survey conducted by Animoto, nearly two-thirds of consumers prefer video under 60 seconds.

That’s why Saddler recommends keeping your social video between 30 and 90 seconds long. Attention spans are short and you want to keep viewers engaged.

Here’s a few ways to ensure your video holds the audience’s attention:

  • If your video includes text, keep the word count to a minimum. You don’t want your viewer to be reading the entire time instead of watching the actual video. Your audience’s time is precious, so try to get your message across with as few of words as possible.
  • Use numbered lists to keep people engaged. This makes the video content easy-to-follow.
  • Get the pacing right. Make sure the text doesn’t go by too fast or too slow. To test pacing, Saddler suggests reading the text out loud.

2. It’s optimized for specific platforms and devices

Consider which platform you will share the video on (Facebook? YouTube?), and how your viewers will watch it (on a laptop or mobile device?). Your goal is to deliver the best experience.

Here are some quick tips for optimizing videos for different devices and platforms:

3. It includes descriptive text or subtitles

Silent film is making a comeback. As we mentioned above, 85 percent of videos on Facebook are watched without sound. Here’s how to cater to your silent viewers:

  • Include subtitles. Add captions so that people can follow your video without listening to it. In fact, Facebook reports that captioning a video increases average watch time by 12 percent.
  • Include a description of your video. It’s important to provide your user with context before they click on a video, as it gives them a reason to watch the video. This can be a summary, reaction, quote from the video, or a teaser.
  • If your video needs to be played with the sound on—say it. This is another reason why a video description is so important. Leave an instruction in your video description to have the sound on if it’s essential. We did this in the video we created to celebrate the solar eclipse.


4. It has a clear call to action

Saddler says one of the biggest mistakes marketers can make is not including a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of their social video. Having a CTA ensures that the engagement doesn’t stop after the video is over, but guides viewers to the next step—whether it’s a landing page, email subscription page, or purchase. Here’s how to craft an effective CTA:

  • Use actionable language. Your audience should know exactly what to do and what they’ll receive once they’ve done it. Use verbs such as “discover,” “find,” or “explore.”
  • Have a clear value proposition. If you want the reader to take a certain action, you have to offer something of value.
  • Forget the jargon. Clarity is key. Don’t try to sound smart at the expense of being clear.
  • Don’t have too many CTAs. We recommend sticking to one CTA so that the message is crystal clear.

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