Five Tips to Optimize Your Videos for Social Media


July 15, 2021

By Curley & Pynn

By 2022, most social media content will be video, no doubt driven largely by the decisions of marketers who know videos receive higher rates of engagement than posts with just copy or photos. As the volume of online video content increases, capturing the attention of your customers and prospects will become even more difficult.

Here are five tips to optimize your videos for success on social media:

  1. Keep it short and sweet.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all length for the perfectly optimized social media video, a good rule of thumb is to keep your video shorter than two minutes. Studies show engagement drops off significantly after the first 10 seconds and continues to decline. At the 30-second mark, only 50-60% of your viewers are still watching.

As well, consider specifications of the platform where you are posting the video. Not only does each platform’s algorithm prioritize content differently, but user behavior may differ across platforms as well. For example, Twitter users have a lower tolerance for long-form video content, whereas LinkedIn users are more likely to watch a lengthy video about company culture.

Here are some best practices by platform:

Optimal length: 15 seconds to 3 minutes
Maximum length: 240 minutes

Instagram (profile grid)
Optimal length: 60 seconds or less
Maximum length: 60 seconds

Optimal length: 43-45 seconds
Maximum length: 140 seconds

Optimal length: 30 seconds or less
Maximum length: 10 minutes

  1. Orient the shot appropriately.

Should you shoot video footage horizontally or vertically? It depends!

The better question is: “Which orientation works best for the platform where my video will be posted?”

If you are like most smartphone users who hold their phones vertically (in their natural upright position) 94% of the time, then you are in luck! This is the preferred orientation for videos viewed by users on a mobile device. Especially, if you are using the “stories” feature on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, vertical orientation is the way to go.

However, if you plan on uploading your video to YouTube or if your social media followers browse your content primarily from a desktop computer, then horizontal orientation is best.

For power users who want to dive even deeper into the dimensions and ratios that work best on each platform, this guide by Sprout Social has all the details.

  1. Make it work in silence.

While audio can take some videos from good to great, it won’t make a difference for the majority of viewers watching your videos on social media. On Facebook, for example, 85% of social media videos are watched without sound. Along with ensuring your footage and graphics can stand alone, consider how overlaying text onto your video will help viewers follow along. This step is especially crucial if your video includes any interviews. It also makes your videos more accessible to users with hearing impairments.

Captions are an essential tool for social media video producers, allowing you to get the message across without spoken words or narration. Several platforms have integrated captioning into their process for video uploads. There are also many mobile apps that will automatically add captions to your videos. Our team recently used Headliner while filming on site at a client event and found it easy to use on the fly.

  1. Know where to post and host.

While developing your video content strategy, it’s important to consider how your video will be distributed. Best practice suggests videos should be uploaded directly to the social media platform, preventing viewers from having to click your video link and exit the platform. Seemingly insignificant, these additional steps can stifle your potential reach.

Posting natively to the platform also allows you to use built-in analytics dashboards that more accurately track and measure the performance of your videos. Plus, Facebook and Twitter have playback features that make the mobile viewing experience seamless.

In the rare case that your video may exceed the length limitations for a platform, but you still want to share it there, you can host the video on YouTube or Vimeo and share the video link as part of your post on that platform.

  1. Maintain a simple setup.

Remember what it was like to carry around a flip phone in one pocket and your digital camera in the other? Today’s smartphones take higher-quality footage than both those bricks combined!

Consumers crave authenticity and may actually become skeptical of your message if the video is too polished. All you need is a smartphone and soft, natural sunlight (or the illusion of natural sunlight).

To elevate the quality of your video further, grab a set of smartphone headphones with a built-in microphone (standard on most sets today) and – Voila! You can produce quality audio with minimal effort.

Now, grab your smartphone and get to work!

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