How can companies use social video now? For both B2C and B2B brands, the short answer is, you can do a lot with social video, from increasing brand awareness to increasing sales. Despite the hype about when brands like Ocean Spray go viral, most of the utility of social video comes from key best practices of knowing your audience, aligning your message with the platform, and creating content that resonates with potential customers.
Even without millions of views, well-made social videos can balance the shopping experience for consumers and business decision-makers with little or no touch. They introduce consumers to new D2C brands and help business shoppers gather the information they need to research and compare solutions.
Video postings and ads also have a higher engagement rate than plain text or static image content, so they can grab your audience’s attention. Even better, you are out of luck or have to try and force a viral video moment to connect with your customers.
Where can you place your social videos and ads?
Social video platforms are constantly evolving, but here’s a snapshot of some of the best options for businesses today:
Reels is Instagram’s answer to TikTok. Instagram Reels gives users two length options: 15 and 30 seconds. Reels recently added purchases so viewers can buy directly from the videos they see. Meanwhile, TikTok has partnered with Shopify to allow store owners to create video ads through the ecommerce platform.
Other Instagram and Facebook video ad channels
With nearly a dozen other channels besides Reels, Instagram and its parent company Facebook offer brands numerous options for video placement:
- Instagram feed, stories and discovery
- Audience Network native, in-stream and other placements
- Facebook feed, in-stream, marketplace and stories
The Facebook marketplace, instant articles and newsfeed allow videos up to four hours long. However, for most Facebook and Instagram video placements, the limit is two minutes.
Native videos can run for up to 10 minutes on LinkedIn, although LinkedIn finds that the ideal run time is three minutes or less. A recommendation for longer videos is to create a series of shorter videos for LinkedIn ad campaigns. In fact, LinkedIn reports that the video ads that work best are less than 15 seconds long.
Most businesses can tweet videos or serve video ads up to two minutes and 20 seconds on Twitter. Like LinkedIn, Twitter recommends limiting your video ads to 15 seconds or less.
15 minutes is the basic time limit for video sharing on YouTube. However, you can upload longer videos once your account has been verified. Video ads on the platform range from six to 20 seconds.
What Kind of Social Video Content Should You Create?
Most of the time we think of short videos when we think of social networks – short customer testimonials, product demos, and animated explanatory videos of a minute or two are prime examples. For some platforms and audiences, short videos work best.
However, longer video postings can also work. In fact, many professionals now rely on video content for their work. For example, the Content Marketing Institute reports that in 2020, more than half of technicians and engineers reported watching at least an hour of video for work each week.
Here are some long form video options to consider:
- Excerpts from webinar recordings directing traffic to gated content or a registration page
- Extensive explanatory videos that break down complex concepts or processes for business decision-makers
- Detailed instructions on products or services (especially useful for SaaS marketing)
- Longer case studies with video interviews with clients or clients
- Mini documentaries showing your company’s culture, technology, or creative process
While your followers may see your video posts on their feed, your audience will be more likely to see your videos if you run them as social ads. Social video ads allow you to customize your audience so that they reach different segments of your target market based on their attributes. Social video ads can also reach viewers outside of social platforms: YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook serve ads outside of the company.
Live social video options
Facebook and Instagram offer live streaming options, and LinkedIn is currently testing live streaming with a select group of applicants. A separate account is required for Twitter’s live video platform, Periscope. However, you can create an account using your Twitter credentials.
B2B companies can broadcast live product launches, conferences and behind-the-scenes interviews with SMEs and business leaders. However, the most immediate live stream results appear to be in the B2C space.
Forbes reports that global B2C brands like L’Oreal and Kim Kardashian ran successful livestream shopping campaigns in 2020 that paired their products with Chinese social media influencers. Livestream shopping is something of an old school social media updated info brand with social celebrities, audience engagement, flash deals, and instant buy.
Whether you are showcasing your expertise to a B2B audience through native videos or increasing B2C sales through paid social video ads, some best practices generally apply to all social video campaigns.
Social Video Marketing Best Practices
1. Know the aspect ratio and other specifications for each platform you are using.
The restrictions on pixel size, file size, aspect ratios and file formats vary from platform to platform, sometimes even within the same platform. For example, Instagram Stories video ads must be at least 500 x 889 pixels, while carousel video ads on Instagram should be square – ideally 180 x 1080 pixels.
The Hootsuite Guide to Social Media Video Requirements is helpful for an overview of many platforms. It’s also a good idea to check the specs for each platform you plan to use before shooting your footage.
2. Be consistent with your thumbnail.
Create a branded thumbnail or overlay logo for your videos and keep it consistent. The versions are available for every different aspect ratio and resolution you need for every platform and channel.
3. Use subtitles for each video.
Engaging dialogue is important, but most viewers don’t hear it. A 2019 Verizon study found that 69% of Americans watch video with the sound turned off while in public, and a quarter even mute video at home. Accessibility is another reason for subtitling videos.
4. Add a call to action.
Most social platforms allow you to add a CTA button or card to the end of your video so that viewers can take the next step, whether they’re making a purchase, registering for a webinar, or downloading a white paper. If the platform of your choice doesn’t have a CTA link tool, include a URL at the end and in the body of your social post or ad.
5. Use platform data to tailor content to your target group.
With the ability to personalize your social video messaging, you can reach the very people who are most likely to watch your video and follow your CTA. Track the performance of your campaigns and adjust your targeting and messaging as needed.
Start your social video marketing
If your business is brand new to social video, start small with a platform, format, and videos no longer than 15 seconds. If you’ve already run social video campaigns but haven’t got the ROI you want, check out the tips above. You may need to trim your videos, add subtitles, recheck your alignment, and improve your CTAs. Experiment and keep learning because the potential for engagement and conversions from social videos is well worth the effort. [Read related article: 4 Tricks to Increase Your Social Media Views and Go Viral]