Tips on adding video to your social media presence

Follow these best practices about audience, purpose, video production, and channel optimization when using video on social media.

The sheer volume of video being created and released suggests that quality and purpose ought to be considerations for any enterprise embarking on a video journey to augment their social media efforts.

Identifying purpose and value

ReelSEO, an online video marketing guide, says to tell a story and make it about people rather than simply revealing a product. ReelSEO uses words such as "resonant, authentic, compelling, and memorable" to describe great video. But even before all that, you have to think carefully about purpose.

The U.S. government offers the practical advice to its agencies to choose wisely when using video on social media. Not everything should be made into a video, and only some things will be compelling in video form. If the video won't have strong visual and audio elements, is not something a busy person will spend time watching, and has such a narrow audience that it won't be widely viewed, there are probably better ways to communicate the message.

Another key consideration though is whether the video will provide value to the viewer. To make this determination, it requires being familiar with the intended audience and being able to answer specific questions about them, such as:

  • Are they online?
  • What are their interests, jobs, and education levels?
  • Are they tech and web savvy?

Uncovering the preferred audience

You might think you need focus groups to uncover the preferred audience, but that isn't necessarily the case. One effective funnel to narrow down the size of your audience (especially in B2B) is exclusion. You eliminate everyone who is not in your preferred audience. Then, with your new insight into the intended audience, do research to get to know them.

Sharing your video

Once there's a good reason for a video and a known audience, PR Newswire suggests a blended distribution strategy as the best video sharing setup. This includes posting some video on YouTube and some on your site. While there are many video sharing platforms, YouTube is still the dominant force in the sector; plus, it offers in-depth guides on creating video and setting up channels.

Each company needs to investigate the merits of the various platforms for its purposes and audience. Mark Sherbin at Content Marketing Institute, delved into a comparison of the various platforms with Eric Leslie, president of OnScene Productions, and the two of them offer guidance on selecting a video content platform.  For this post, we've focused on YouTube, which has in-depth guides on creating video and setting up channels. 

This video features business owners from various industries talking about what they've done with video on YouTube.

Setting up the video channel

Successful channels need long-term plans that outline a "cohesive viewing experience across all videos on the channel." The idea is to establish your channel's vision, and then allow that to guide the type of content you produce, as well as your release schedule. With those preliminaries completed, it's time to optimize your video channel so it's a discoverable destination and is poised to attract and retain viewers. Here are key focal points.

  • Describe your channel. Put the most important aspect of your content at the beginning of the description, and keep in mind that the description is also the information on the channel's About tab. You should include relevant keywords, specifics about your content, and your upload schedule, especially if you host a series.
  • Write good titles. Make your headline compelling -- include keywords ahead of branding -- and accurate -- don't promise something you're not going to deliver. If it's serial content, then add the episode number at the end of the title.
  • Add channel art. YouTube recommends custom art that's visually compelling. If you put your website and social media site links on the About tab, they'll be overlaid on your channel's banner. Put people, preferably your people, in the channel art so visitors will feel like they're connecting with people/personalities and not just a logo.
  • Use your feed. Your channel gets stale if you don't have regular updates, so if you aren't producing regular videos, you can use the feed to keep the channel fresh. Besides uploads, your feed includes activity on channels you subscribe to, your likes, and the videos you add to playlists. Set up a regular time to do these curation types of tasks.
  • Increase subscribers with a channel trailer. Enable the "channel trailer view" for unsubscribed visitors and upload a trailer to introduce the channel's content to them. You should include subscription calls to action well in advance of the trailer's ending.

Rolling into video production

With the audience and vision in place, and the channel set up and optimized, it's time to start producing your first video. Consider incorporating these YouTube best practices as you do.

  • Use techniques such as asking a question, teasing what's coming up, or revealing something to spark curiosity.
  • Push branding and flashy company messages to the back, or if compelling enough and used upfront, keep them to about five seconds long.
  • Be clear, so viewers immediately know what they're watching.
  • Pay close attention to the technical, such as lighting, sound, and framing.
  • Don't skimp on editing and condensing.
  • Keep videos structured with a beginning, middle, and an end.
  • Be creative. If you can add humor to the story you're telling, it's even better. This humorous business video tells a story with an unexpected ending.