Social Media and Video



Social video is just video content on any platform. We focus on specific platforms due to their potential and effectiveness for reaching the right people. Many of the same considerations for images also apply for video, and where we place it.

Video is powerful because it can really illustrate movement, emotion - and tell a story. It’s hard to get that from just an image or 140 text characters.

Video” is a content format, not a strategy in and of itself. 

Video Considerations

  • Produce with mobile in mind (e.g., vertical aspect ratio), but cut assets if necessary
  • Use thumbnail cover images
  • Keep the message simple
  • Capture attention in the first three seconds
  • Consider starting the video with lifestyle and product shots, recognizable spokespeople, action scenes, or a vivid background to spark interest.
  • Is it “thumb-stopping?” Would we stop to watch it?
  • What is the story?
  • Match the investment in production, with investment in promotion

Design for sound off

  • Videos typically play with sound turned off by default. Show captions and visual cues that help people understand the full video without sound, but compel them to turn it on.
  • Facebook has a tool that provides automated captions, but these can be inaccurate
  • How to Add External SRT Subtitles to Video
  • If a script is available, it can make the whole process easier
  • Closed Captioning is tedious. Paying contractors, such as on Fiverr, may be a cheap and efficient approach, especially if there are many videos to caption.
  • Create captions in YouTube, then export the final .srt file to be used elsewhere (e.g. Vimeo, Facebook)
  • If we want subtitles that always show, we can do it in Adobe Premiere or a similar program before exporting.
  • Keep in mind levels of compliance (Section 508, WCAG 2.0)
  • Try Amara (free personal use, commercial license available)

Be positive

Video content which draws a strong, positive emotional response is 30 percent more likely to be shared than those which elicit strong negative emotions. Strong negative emotions such as anger or shock can prompt us to share, but it is a tough one to get right, as you risk alienating your consumers. Focusing on positive emotions is a much safer bet.

Elicit strong emotions and personal triumphs

There are some creative devices which are highly likely to attract large amounts of sharing and are underused by marketers. One is personal triumph, used by such ads as P&G's "Best Job" from the 2012 Olympics.

Test different video lengths

It isn’t easy to make a blanket statement like “shorter videos are better than longer videos.” This must be tested and validated. We should reframe the question, thinking about how long it takes to change someone’s mind about our brand in a video. Should we rush to tell our story to avoid getting tuned out, or embrace a longer format to build a more captivating story? This differs by audience (targeting), social platform, and more factors.

And test some more

There’s no universal solution to building brands or driving actions with mobile video, so keep experimenting, testing and iterating to learn what works for your brand and audience.

The ultimate goal is to refine our approach to video until costs are low, and intended conversions are high. This necessitates that we determine answers to:

· Should the way we tell stories be different on mobile video?

· Does age affect how we connect with video?

· How long should an ad be?

· Do people in different roles or industries want to see different content?

Video Distribution on Social Media

Video content is typically a great fit for nearly all the core social channels, because the movement of a video interrupts scrolling and gets people to pay attention.

It's also simply more interesting than an image - there's more to interact with. Since it gets people to browse longer on a channel, or engage with a particular profile, the algorithms take this into account - video content sees slightly higher organic reach, and associated metrics.

Thus, depending on video assets and editing possibilities, it can live in many places. Videos can be relevant to many audiences, and we should not be "precious" with where we publish them. But if there are sensitivities, then the team can publish just on a few social channels.

In general, social media users do have an attention span - and it is as long as content is interesting. Thus, a 90-second video might be fine, as long as it captures their attention in the first three seconds. Videos that are 30s - 1 minute in length are typically even better, because they don't require the viewer to stay engaged for a long time.

Where Videos Can Live

  • Social content should be uploaded to each social platform natively. The channels reduce the already low reach when content links out to a competing platform (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo)
  • Published to a YouTube playlist


  • A snippet could be cut into a horizontal video, to temporarily serve as the page's header video, and/or video spotlight. This page shows both examples.
  • Videos could be a great fit for organizing into a Playlist and a Series. This will help ensure that when people watch one video, the next one will be suggested. After each video is published, look at the post caption to ensure it mentions and links to the next video post on the same channel.
  • Videos can be scheduled and debuted as "live" videos
  • Individual videos can be published as posts
  • Pin a post (e.g., the first video) to the top of the timeline for a period of time


  • Individual videos can be published as posts
  • If posts are published without interruption from other topics, consider forming a larger image/mosaic in the Instagram profile grid. For example, each post can be a carousel where the first post slot is an image (forming the larger image when viewed in the profile), the second slot is the video itself, and a third slot or more has more info,
  • Instagram Stories can call out each post, giving them more attention
  • An Instagram Story Highlight can contain each of the Story clips
  • It might make the most sense (and to meet specs) for full videos to live on IGTV
  • As related videos or all the videos are published, they can be included in one or more Carousel posts, rounding up the videos as a recap
  • Consider how the channel can go Live to bring attention to the videos


  • Individual videos can be published as posts
  • Pin a post (e.g., the first video) to the top of the timeline for a period of time
  • As each video tweet is published, reply to it with a link to at least the next video tweet, if not all of them (this will create a threaded tweet)
  • Consider highlighting a video series through the profile's bio or cover image


  • Consider highlighting a video series through the profile's bio or cover image
  • Individual videos can be published as posts
  • Pin a post (e.g., the first video) to the top of the timeline for a period of time
  • LinkedIn Stories and post shares by employees and executives can give the posts more attention
  • Employees and executives can upload or link to the video as a piece of featured content on their profile, or as thumbnail content in their experience listing.
  • Specific employees can update their social media profiles to bring attention to the video series.

Additional Considerations

  • Consider making a social media toolkit for key internal and external stakeholders (e.g., partners). This can include the video assets and guardrails for publishing them, but also a schedule for sharing content. This will make it easier to help maximize organic reach and impact.
  • Consider simulcasting live video across multiple social channels and even the brand website
  • Live Video should be promoted before and during the moment, to maximize potential viewership
  • Despite a brand's existing following across social media platforms, paid support is strongly recommended to ensure content reaches target audiences at scale
  • Use multiple alert formats (e.g., email, organic social content, LinkedIn company page alert, Instagram countdown sticker)
  • From a design and storytelling perspective, Mailchimp is one great example of highlighting story "heroes" and pacing out series. AMEX stands out for highlighting small business, especially during moments like Small Business Saturday.
  • Refer to the brand's Social Media Playbook and platform specs to ensure that videos are optimized from a creative and technical standpoint. That means elements including captions in the video, alt text on the social media post, post hashtags, and reviewing how one video post is linking to the next (and/or the whole series).
  • What else can we do to bring attention to a video series? The videos don't have to do all the speaking for themselves. For example, what if brand leaders joined a virtual live panel discussion on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn? This could include one or more of small businesses featured in the videos.
  • Consider how videos can live or be featured in a social manner on the brand website. For example, can social content or a YouTube video be embedded?
  • Vertical videos (e.g., Story formats)
  • Square videos (e.g., Instagram)
  • Video sections: show "skip to" text at start of video, with second markers for the different video sections (if not in the video player functionality, then in the about/comments)

Video Viewability

The social platforms have different definitions for how users see (view) content. Facebook counts the “view” at the three second mark (whether or not the viewer has even turned on the sound).

YouTube, on the other hand, counts views at the point at which people seem to actually be engaging with the video and not just immediately clicking away. This is usually around 30 seconds, but is different for videos of different lengths.

From this distinction alone, one can see that views on the social platforms are not equivalent to each other. Additional issues make the “view” a controversial metric, so we must determine for ourselves which metrics are behind successful content.

Viewability has fluctuated across social media and display media networks due to:

  • Ad latency
  • Ad blocking
  • Ad fraud
  • Duration of ad view
  • Ad inventory refresh and reload

Video Concerns

  • Who can advertise before, during, or after my video?
  • Ad fraud
  • Bot traffic and actions
  • Clarity around video ad goals and metrics
  • Enough inventory, and enough quality inventory
  • Cost of inventory
  • Viewability
  • Video ad performance
  • User experience

Social Media Video Specs

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube

Additional Reading

Social Media and Live Video

Confessions of online video execs: ‘We’re all immature’

What We Learned From a Year of Experimenting With Digital Video Advertising

Theft, Lies, and Facebook Video

Is ad fraud the 21st century drug trade?

Facebook vs Youtube: Which Side of the Video Battle Should You Join?

Why do UK display-ad-viewability rates keep sinking?

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