If the perfect social video were a cake, what would go into making it? We talked to Hootsuite’s in-house video expert, Derek Saddler, to find out the four key ingredients you need to bake a delicious piece of content.
Invest in a high quality microphone
Audio is one of the most important aspects of your video blog. People need to be able to hear what you’re saying.
Having a quality microphone can help make sure you’re not wasting any time recording your video. Sometimes, you’ll have poor video quality. It happens.
But even if your video sucks, you can always salvage the audio and use it for something like a podcast. Or you can use the audio to voiceover a presentation or something else that’s not live.
Your computer has a microphone built into it, but you can do better. Cheap cameras also don’t have the best microphones.
If you want to take your video blog seriously and do videos often, high quality audio needs to be a priority.
Just make sure you’re able to balance your audio levels with the microphone. Test it out each time before you start broadcasting so you don’t waste time recording audio that’s unusable.
Know your environment. Where do you plan on recording the most?
There are certain microphones that are meant for different things, such as being in a large room with echoes, outdoors with high winds, or in areas with crowds and lots of background noise.
Find a microphone suitable for your broadcast environments. It’s worth the investment.
It’s short and sweet
According to a survey conducted by Animoto, nearly two-thirds of consumers prefer video under 60 seconds.
That’s why Saddler recommends keeping your social video between 30 and 90 seconds long. Attention spans are short and you want to keep viewers engaged.
Here’s a few ways to ensure your video holds the audience’s attention:
- If your video includes text, keep the word count to a minimum. You don’t want your viewer to be reading the entire time instead of watching the actual video. Your audience’s time is precious, so try to get your message across with as few of words as possible. At Hootsuite, when we repurpose a blog post into a social video we’ll often cut it down from eight tips to three, like we did in this video.
- Use numbered lists to keep people engaged. This makes the video content easy-to-follow.
- Get the pacing right. Make sure the text doesn’t go by too fast or too slow. To test pacing, Saddler suggests reading the text out loud. Make sure it’s slow enough that leisurely readers can pick it up, but not so slow that it drags—you might lose your viewer’s attention.
Make sure you have proper lighting
We’ve all seen videos that look unprofessional. They can be anything from those low-budget local commercials to your family home videos.
It’s unacceptable for your video blog to look like this. It’s important for you to understand the concept of a basic three point lighting setup.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on your lights, but you should keep in mind that inexpensive lights won’t last forever. If you’re in this for the long haul, it may be worth it to invest now and save yourself some money down the road.
Whenever you’re shooting outside of your home or office, you need to position yourself properly in relation to natural lighting resources.
Use the sun to your advantage when you’re filming outdoors. Try to position your camera so that the sun is at the same angle as your key light would be in a studio setup.
Add captions to your videos
Not everyone will be watching your video with the sound on. That’s why you need to add captions to your content.
You’ll have much higher engagement rates if your video blog has captions. Videos with captions have 40% more views. Furthermore, the chances of a viewer watching your entire video increases by 80% if you make closed captions available.
85% of videos on Facebook are watched on mute. It makes sense that captions increase the viewing time by 12%.
Think about all the different scenarios under which someone may be watching your video blog. The viewers might be at work, at school, or in a room full of people they don’t want to disturb.
Do you watch all videos with the sound on? Probably not. Make sure you add captions to all of your video blogs.
It’s optimized for specific platforms and devices
Consider which platform you will share the video on (Facebook? YouTube?), and how your viewers will watch it (on a laptop or mobile device?). Your goal is to deliver the best experience.
Here are some quick tips for optimizing videos for different devices and platforms:
- Think mobile-first. More and more users are watching social videos on mobile. On Facebook, for example, 65 percent of video views happen on mobile devices.
- Assume people will watch with the sound off. Most users who watch on mobile are doing so without sound. As it turns out, 85 percent of Facebook video is watched without sound. This might be because audiences are engaging with video in public—riding on public transit, killing time in a waiting room, or even slacking off at work. Find out more about how to prepare for sound off viewing in the next section.
- Use the recommended aspect ratio. When in doubt, a square aspect ratio (1:1) is best as it’s compatible on most social platforms. Square also takes up 78 percent more social media feed real estate than landscape video (16:9).
Give your audience a reason to watch
This relates to my last tip about engaging with your audience. You need to answer a few questions about the direction of your video blog before you start filming.
What is the point of your video? Are you teaching your audience how to do something? What are your qualifications?
Sure, video blogs can be entertaining, informative, or both. But you need to make sure your audience has an incentive to watch.
Unless you’ve got one of the best personalities in the world, nobody will want to just listen to you talk about your day.
Understand what your audience wants, and give it to them.
Encourage users to comment
Another way to keep users engaged is by enticing them to comment on your video blogs. This can be easy if you position your videos accordingly.
Ask for their opinions. Try to spark a discussion or a debate.
If you take a stance on a particular subject, say something like, “Well, let me know what you guys think in the comments section.”
Respond to comments. This is a great way to keep people coming back to your content even when you haven’t uploaded a new video.
If you’re handling this effectively, you could be getting new comments on videos you uploaded months or even years ago.
It has a clear call to action
Saddler says one of the biggest mistakes marketers can make is not including a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of their social video. Having a CTA ensures that the engagement doesn’t stop after the video is over, but guides viewers to the next step—whether it’s a landing page, email subscription page, or purchase. Here’s how to craft an effective CTA:
- Use actionable language. The whole point of a CTA is to get your viewer to take an action after consuming your content. Your audience should know exactly what to do and what they’ll receive once they’ve done it. Use verbs such as “discover,” “find,” or “explore.”
- Have a clear value proposition. If you want the reader to take a certain action, you have to offer something of value. A good CTA with a clear value prop answers the question, “What’s in it for me?” Take Prezi’s main webpage, for example. Its value proposition for Prezi Next is “everything you need for your most dynamic and engaging presentation ever.”
- Forget the jargon. When it comes to CTAs, clarity is key. Don’t try to sound smart at the expense of being clear.
- Don’t have too many CTAs. We recommend sticking to one CTA so that the message is crystal clear. If you add too many CTAs in one post, there’s a good chance your audience will get overwhelmed and fail to click anywhere.