Essential Ingredients for a Perfect Social Video
Video is not just the future of the Internet. It's the NOW as well.
Here are a few numbers for your consideration.
Both Facebook and Snapchat exceed eight billion daily videos viewed, while YouTube - the grandaddy of online video - has over one billion users who consume hundreds of millions of hours worth of video every single day.
While we won't go so far as to say you must incorporate video into your daily social media postings, to fail to do so is to miss out on a gigantic opportunity to spread your message to a staggering number of people.
The good news is you don’t need a fancy schmancy studio setup and thousands of dollars worth of equipment. Got an iPhone or something similar? You're good to go.
Keep reading to learn the ingredients for creating the perfect social video.
What is Social Video?
Like the name says, social video is simply a video that is intended to be seen and shared via social networks, especially the Big Four of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. It doesn’t matter if you’re an international conglomerate trying to get traction with a new product or a college student looking to expand a personal network. If you want to create a video and share it through your social media platforms, we’re talking to you.
Video is Tricky
We’re not going to spend too much time dissecting viral videos.
You know the kind. They come out of nowhere like a cat with its tail on fire and, for no particular discernable reason related to content, quality, or production value, go on to be viewed millions of times in a single afternoon.
Trust us when we say you can't create a viral video on purpose. There's no predicting what will catch the world's fancy at any particular moment in time. What you can do is pay attention to proven video production basics that assure your video will be watched as often as possible. In your world that might mean that 600 views is an astounding success.
Making the Perfect Social Video
Design Your Video for Sharing: In the social media world, success means people feel there is something worthy in your video that makes it worth sharing with their networks.
How do you build ultimate shareability into your video?
Check in with your network of social media followers. Figure out the kind of videos they like and tend to share, then replicate it. There’s no need to reinvent the fork. Figure out what’s already working and do that.
Tweak According to Platform: A video posted to Instagram should be different than one posted to Facebook or one posted to Twitter. The bottom line is each platform has particular strengths and weaknesses.
Once again, check your followers on each platform to see what length and subject matter of video they tend to share. It'll be different for each platform.
Like the first point, this is critical research you should do before embarking on a video crusade, so as not to waste time and effort.
Tell a Story: Ever since primitive people crouched around fires in caves, stories have been an intrinsic part of the human psyche. We love something with heroes and villains and a beginning, middle, and end. If you can insert some conflict and drama into the proceedings, Even better. It makes sense to learn classic story structures that have proven popular time and time again. Consider that “The Wizard of Oz,” “Star Wars,” and “Harry Potter” are essentially the same story; it’s the ‘Hero’s Journey’ if you’re keeping score at home.
But Who’s the Hero?: If you’re tempted to create a hero’s journey in your video, and that can be a VERY good choice, resist the obvious choice to make yourself the hero. Say what?
Yep. The temptation will be tremendous to cast yourself as the wizardly warrior swooping in to save the day swinging his trusty lightsaber but think about this.
How much more effective and shareable will your video be if you can craft a way to make the viewer the hero? See what we did there? At least think about it.
Get Emotional: This doesn't mean you need to go on a 60-second crying jag and milk your hardships for maximum emotional impact - or maybe it does.
What we're saying is you need to make some emotional connection with your audience.
Consider the full range of emotions at your disposal: sadness, happiness, excitement, love, hate, and the list goes on.
Unless you're trying to engage the planet Vulcan, it behooves you to keep in mind that we humans are emotional beings. The things we like to share are the ones that make us feel something.
You’re Not Making “Gone With the Wind”: When it comes to getting your video shared across social media platforms, shorter is better is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind. Sure, Ted Talks might garner hundreds of thousands of views with 15 to 20-minute presentations, but that's a particular group of people addicted to education and an obvious outlier. Twitter limits videos to 30-seconds. Instagram cuts you off at 60-seconds. Think of your social video browsing habits. Do you get an itchy trigger finger after a minute or so and nothing much is happening? That leads us directly to the next point.
Front Load the Good Stuff: An interesting study confirms the idea that you need to hook a viewer with your best material in the first 30-seconds. It’s a journalistic technique that presents the most important information first, then fills in details.
Once you go beyond about four minutes in length (and especially past ten minutes), viewership and engagement declines rapidly. The takeaway: do whatever you must to grab them by the throat quickly.
You Can’t Ignore Metadata: Metadata is that hideous term that describes all the things you can do to make sure your video is easily found and catalogued by search engines. This includes keywords, description, title - all that fun stuff. The bottom line is that metadata matters. Consider the fact that YouTube is the world's second largest search engine (after Google).
Do you want to give up the opportunity to be discovered via that route? We thought not. So pull up your big boy or girl pants and teach yourself how to craft useful metadata. It will take all of ten minutes unless you’re a real slow learner.
Don’t Just Post Your Video - Launch It!: If social media engagement is your goal, there’s no point in dribbling out a video with no fanfare. You’ve got to launch it like a burst of fireworks across the nighttime sky. This means get proactive about it from the start and call in all the chips you might have outstanding with family and friends.
Ask them to share it with their networks. Post the thing live on all platforms simultaneously. Sure, you want the magic to happen when people discover the video, but you need to give that thing a hearty shove down the track towards visibility. Don’t forget, even if you’re not a business, you can take advantage of features like Facebook's post boost. For a few bucks, you're guaranteed to get the thing in front of anywhere from a few hundred to a thousand or more people.
We’ve just touched on several of the main ingredients that go into the process of creating a successful social video. Obviously, this topic is much deeper and broader than any single article can contain, but we hope the preceding information has at least engaged the grey matter enough to allow you to begin thinking about the video process as something more than just a thing you do on a whim.
One of life's harsh realities is this. Posting videos that no one looks at isn't much fun. Create a plan and increase the odds that more people go, "Cool, I bet John would love to see this."