Ben Leftwich | June 28, 2016

Optimising video for social media

You have finally spent the time and developed a new TV commercial, and your boss wants you to put it up on social media so it can go ‘viral’.

You post it up on your YouTube channel, share it out on Facebook and Twitter, and then wait for the views and new business to come rolling in. And wait, and wait, and wait. Maybe another tweet you think, or another post on Facebook, but still no love and now your boss is questioning why you spent all that money on the TV commercial. Well this is awkward.

The trouble is, optimising video for social media is more than simply posting a link to YouTube, although that’s better than nothing. There are a number of more effective ways to get views and engagement on social media using video, but it takes a little more work. Below are a few tricks of the trade, but keep in mind, this will all probably change in 6 months so watch this space for when the below becomes less effective.

Tip 1: Upload Directly to the Social Media Platform vs. Cross-Posting from YouTube

With Twitter and especially Facebook pushing heavily into the video space, both prioritise content that’s uploaded directly into their platform instead of cross-posted from YouTube.

Facebook is trying to muscle in on YouTube’s video advertising dollars, especially on mobile, and they are using their algorithm to make this all happen. As a result, videos uploaded directly to Facebook are heavily prioritised in newsfeeds, whereas cross-posted videos from YouTube much less so. Twitter works much the same.

Bonus is that when these videos are uploaded directly to the platform they auto-play as users scroll through their feeds, making it more likely to capture their attention.

Bottom line: take that same video file you uploaded to YouTube and upload to Facebook and Twitter directly.

Tip 2: Add Subtitles to your videos

Given that up to 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound, subtitles are making a comeback in a big way on social media videos.

Makes sense if you think about it, if you’re watching a video at work (assuming Facebook isn’t blocked) you still want to be able to get the content of the video without having to throw on headphones or have everyone in the office hear what you’re listening to when you’re supposed to be working.

If you don’t want to sit there and transcribe every second of video yourself, you can use a service like Speechpad for inexpensive transcriptions. Then, have your video team add the subtitles for the social media version of the video.

Bottom line: take the time to add subtitles to your video if it doesn’t already have text explaining the content.

Tip 3: Preview your video in the first few seconds

Most recently seen with movie trailers, but could also work in a number of different applications, take the first 5-10 seconds to ‘preview’ what you video is all about for your social media viewers.

It may seem ridiculous to add pre-roll to a video that’s only 60-120 second long, but users scroll quickly through their feeds, and if you don’t grab their attention they’ll fly right past.

Use those first 5-10 seconds to come up with a mini-trailer for your commercial, grab their attention, and then move into the full video.

Bottom line: let your editors cut a 5-10 second preview of the video to draw in social media viewers.

Summing up

Social media is a great channel to get eyeballs on your video, but it takes a bit more effort to optimise it for each platform than simply slapping a YouTube link up and hoping for the best.

Make sure you build in some time to your video production schedule to prep your videos for social media. Just tell your boss it will help these videos ‘go viral’.

Ben Leftwich

Account Director