Crafting a Social Video Strategy

Tactics, best practices, and creative ideas for social media videos

April 14, 2021

Topic tags

Meisha Bochicchio

Marketing

Alyce Currier

Marketing


Here at Wistia, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of video that lives on your website, where you can completely control the entire viewing experience. And while we remain big supporters of having a branded video experience, we also recognize the huge role that social media plays in marketing.

Nearly every social media platform has evolved to accommodate and even prioritize video content — and not just any video. Specifically, social platforms prioritize native video over embeds from other platforms. And why would that be? For the same reason we want you to put video on your own website! The platform’s ultimate goal is to keep folks on the site for as long as possible.

So, how can brands use social media’s reach and potential while also being mindful about their own brand and content experience? A thoughtful social media strategy is key to engaging audiences and drawing them into your own brand universe. Also, keep in mind — the ways you use video and social media don’t exist in silos; your efforts should always tie into larger team and business goals.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how we at Wistia use video across social media to take advantage of social media’s strengths and how you can best use each platform. We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get started!

Going beyond syndication

Syndication is a perfectly fine initial foundation for your social video strategy. Make a video for your website, then repurpose that video across all of your social networks! It’s simple, and it doesn’t require much extra work on your end. Syndication is superior to silence.

However, if you want your video content to really resonate, you’re going to have to take it a step further and appeal to how people are using each specific network. Consider your goals for each platform, then ask yourself how videos made (or edited) specifically for that space can help you achieve those goals.

At Wistia, we’ve experimented a lot across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We’re still learning and experimenting on every channel, but we hope you can apply these lessons across your own social video strategy.

Think of video as a starting point for conversations and connections across each network, and tailor your social videos as you would any other social campaign content. And enjoy yourself! Rules are made to be broken, and social media is a natural place to do things that don’t scale on occasion — especially if it makes your audience really, really happy!

“Think of video as a starting point for conversations and connections across each network, and tailor your social videos as you would any other social campaign content.”

Building a strategy for different networks

As of 2021, there are now over 20 active social media platforms available to brands. That’s a lot of social, no matter how extroverted you may be!

Of course, it’s nearly impossible to be everywhere at once. The best way to reach your audience on social is to first understand where and how they prefer to engage with brands. It’s all about quality over quantity. Pick the top two to four social networks and focus on doing those really well. Though you may have a fear of missing out if you’re not everywhere, there’s no way you’ll be able to consistently keep up with more than four platforms.

When incorporating video into your larger social strategy, keep each platform’s individual nuances in mind. And don’t be afraid to experiment with new things and pivot if something’s not working.

“It’s all about quality over quantity. Pick the top two to four social networks and focus on doing those really well.”

Now, let’s dive into a handful of the top platforms and talk strategy!

Facebook

As the first and (currently) largest social media network, most brands have a pretty long history with Facebook. Let’s take a brief walk down memory lane and explore some key moments in Facebook’s history.

How video has evolved on Facebook

Facebook launched as a platform in 2004, though video functionality wasn’t added until much later.

Here are a few video-related highlights from the last few years:

  • 2016: “Time spent” was added as a ranking signal (which was great news for video creators), and live video was prioritized in the newsfeed.
  • 2017: “Video completion rate” was added as a ranking signal.
  • 2019: Facebook started prioritizing “high quality, original video content” and gave extra weight to videos that surpassed the one-minute and three-minute engagement marks.

Facebook has put a ton of time and energy into making their algorithm super smart and intuitive, and they recognized early on that video was a natural format to capture attention and keep folks engaged. As a result, their algorithm has evolved over time to really prefer video content. This is important because other social networks tend to follow Facebook’s lead.

“Facebook’s algorithm has evolved over time to really prefer video content. This is important because other social networks tend to follow Facebook’s lead.”

Facebook’s audience

The most important aspect of Facebook’s audience is its sheer size. With more than 2.89 billion active users, it’s the largest social media network in the world.

This size is particularly handy when it comes to paid advertising. Facebook has extremely granular targeting capabilities. Looking to reach moms with newborn babies that live within 25 miles of Boston? What about luxury travel enthusiasts that make more than $250,000 per year and are Marriott Bonvoy members? Facebook can make that happen.

Despite the massive audience, Facebook works best when you go niche. For your ads to work best, be sure to first understand your audience, their likes, dislikes, and preferences, and then cater your content towards them accordingly.

What type of video content works best?

As a B2B company, we’ve found success with these three video categories on Facebook:

  • Brand awareness
  • Tutorials and how-tos
  • Company culture

Brand awareness videos are all about — you guessed it — generating broad awareness and hype around your brand. Tutorials and how-to videos are more focused on education and providing value, while culture videos are designed to show off your company’s personality and values.

How we use video on Facebook at Wistia

At Wistia, we’ve had the best luck treating video the same way we do images or other visual content. We use silent-friendly videos to tease content and give our audience an inside glance at our company culture.

Here’s an example of a video trailer we pinned to our page to promote Show Business, a 20-episode video series all about how to make binge-worthy content. Our goal for this video was to generate awareness and hype for the series — and it worked!

And here’s an example of a company culture video we posted to celebrate Pride month and show our support for the LGBTQ+ community. Our goal for this post was to shine a light on an underrepresented group and promote Wistia’s inclusive culture.

Facebook video tips

As you’re editing your video, keep in mind that it will silently auto-play on a loop in the viewer’s feed. Make sure the visuals are as enticing as the audio and can carry the video’s message on their own. That’s crucial because many viewers will only hear the sound if they choose to turn the volume on — a somewhat challenging ask in this noisy space.

Even though many outside video hosts (including Wistia) can display video in the News Feed, native video is the name of the game when it comes to reach and engagement. Facebook’s algorithm takes a user’s previous video-related actions into account in determining whether to show them videos in the future, and video sees more reach than any other type of post.

Tip
Looking for a deeper dive? Check out our complete guide to Facebook video.

Instagram

Over time, Instagram has grown to be the world’s third most popular social platform behind Facebook and YouTube. This visual-centric app is a natural place for video content, and Instagram offers several placement options specific to different video formats.

How video has evolved on Instagram

Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012. Since then, the company has invested heavily in putting video front and center across the platform. There are now five unique spots for video content: Newsfeed, Stories, Reels, IGTV, and Instagram Live.

The thing to note about Instagram is that the platform is built to be fun and engaging, so lean into the native features and trending formats when you’re thinking through your video content. Elements like animated GIFs, stickers, filters, music clips, and more can make your videos really pop as folks are exploring.

Instagram’s audience

Over 60% of Instagram’s users are between the ages of 18 and 34. This demographic, combined with recent features like Stories and Reels, explain the platform’s preference for high-energy, trendy video content.

According to Instagram, 90% of people follow a business account on the platform, and 2 in 3 people say Instagram enables relationships with brands. This is fantastic news for publishers — people are actively looking to connect with brands and consume their content.

What type of video content works best?

What types of videos work best on Instagram? We’ve found success with content that fall into these categories:

  • Video trailers
  • Tutorials and how-tos
  • Behind-the-scenes
  • Takeovers

Video trailers are like movie trailers for your content. Pull out a few clips that demonstrate what your series or podcast is about (without giving too much away) and voilà! You’ve got a powerful asset to pull in new fans.

Tutorials and how-tos are all about teaching folks something new, while behind-the-scenes shots showcase the real humans behind your brand. And takeovers happen when someone else “takes over” your account for the day, often sharing snackable content on your Story.

How we use video on Instagram at Wistia

At Wistia, we lean heavily into the platform’s video-friendly features and post a fair amount of videos. From short, snappy trailers that promote our video series and podcasts to live Q&As with Wistians to employee takeovers — there’s nothing we haven’t tried in the realm of Instagram video.

Instagram is mostly about recreation and connection, so our Instagram presence is all about fun. We know it’s difficult to get people to visit our site directly from Instagram. Instead of fighting people’s established browsing habits, we usually post teaser content and fun behind-the-scenes shots on Instagram in order to build excitement and positive affect!

Check out this example of a tutorial video. We shared a funny and timely satire video on how to slack off during work. We chose to share this video on Instagram to take advantage of the platform’s lighthearted environment.

We love using teasers for our brand shows. Here’s an example of a teaser for our Talking Too Loud and A Better Workplace crossover podcast episode. We shared this short clip that gives folks a sense of what the episode is about and then prompts people to check out the full episode.

We also love showcasing our company culture across social media. Here’s a quick preview of a random Slack conversation that we turned into an entertaining, sharable moment.

Instagram video tips

Like Facebook, Instagram videos autoplay silently by default, so the same rules apply: Keep your videos relatively short and make sure the visual is still effective without any audio.

When creating different types of videos for Instagram, pay special attention to each placement’s requirements and best practices. A Reel should look and feel much different than an IGTV video or a Story.

Instagram also has a ton of native features, so use these throughout your videos to create eye-catching, engaging content. Experiment with filters, stickers, countdown timers, emojis, GIFs — you name it, Instagram probably has it.

Tip
Looking for a deeper dive? Check out our complete guide to Instagram video.

Twitter

What was once known as a “micro-blogging” site has evolved into one of the most popular social media sites to date. The platform is particularly known for bringing people together for conversations via hashtags and threads. Many well-known brands host weekly “chats” where they engage with their community and others live-Tweet events like webinars or conference sessions to keep folks connected.

How video has evolved on Twitter

Twitter has an interesting history when it comes to video. The platform brought on video capabilities in 2010 and added support for video previews from links in 2012.

Twitter then acquired Vine, an app for creating and sharing short looping videos, in 2013 — though the hype was short-lived; Twitter sunset the app in 2016.

2014 was an exciting year with the addition of support for animated GIFs, which are very popular across the platform.

And, in 2015, Twitter acquired Periscope, a live streaming app — though this was also somewhat short-lived as well, coming to a close in 2021.

Twitter currently has fairly limited video functionality compared to other apps, and they haven’t added much in terms of new bells and whistles in several years.

Twitter’s audience

Twitter’s audience skews slightly older than other platforms like Instagram or TikTok. 39% of users are between the ages of 25–34, while 21% are between 35–49. Interestingly, 17% of users fall into the 50+ demographic.

Twitter also has a lot of niche sub-cultures (similar to Reddit) that can foster a strong sense of community. Hashtags are a great way to find and connect with these groups.

What type of video content works best?

Wondering what works best on Twitter? These are the types of video content that we focus on:

  • Teasers and trailers
  • Content previews
  • Behind-the-scenes
  • Quirky/fun videos

We’ve mentioned teasers and trailers a few times already (and for good reason!). Twitter can be an effective place to spread the word about an upcoming video series or podcast through a short, snappy trailer. Content previews or teasers also work well here. We use audiograms a lot to preview upcoming podcast episodes. Twitter’s nerdy, niche sub-cultures also make it an ideal place for quirky video content that you might not use on other platforms.

How we use video on Twitter at Wistia

On Twitter, we primarily use video to tease our website content and showcase our brand personality. The platform has a reputation for extra-casual and relatable content, so keep this in mind when deciding what videos to test.

We fully embrace using audiograms to tease podcast content. They add a nice visual element to clips and really bring audio content to life. Here’s an example from our podcast, A Better Workplace. This asset was created to give listeners a feel for what the show is about and entice them to subscribe for updates.

Speaking of teasers, we love using video to promote other forms of content, like this clip we created to spread the word about our State of Video Report. Our goal here was to give folks a taste of what the report contains and drive downloads.

Remember how we mentioned Twitter is great for eclectic, niche content? Check out this clip from Chris Lavigne, our Lead Video Producer. He created this to uniquely promote our video series Show Business, which we retweeted from our brand account.

Twitter video tips

Things move fast on Twitter. This is why it’s super important to grab attention immediately to get folks to stop scrolling and view your content — here even more so than on other platforms.

Twitter recommends keeping videos in the 15–30 second range. They also suggest featuring real people in videos, and subtly branding your videos to keep the brand connection strong. And of course, don’t forget to share video content that’s auto-play friendly and to upload captions for accessible and sound-free viewing.

Tip
Ready to Tweet up a storm? Check out our complete guide to Twitter video for more tips on how to delight your followers.

LinkedIn

Small but mighty, LinkedIn is a niche networking platform for business professionals. Video is fairly new to the platform, so we encourage brands to be among the early adopters and test lots of different videos to see what sticks.

How video has evolved on LinkedIn

Believe it or not, video is still relatively new to LinkedIn; support for native video launched in 2017. So, unlike many other platforms that already have a ton of video content, LinkedIn presents ample opportunity to get ahead of the curve before more brands follow suit.

LinkedIn added Live functionality in 2019, and interested accounts have to apply for access to the program.

What type of video content works best?

As a professional platform, we see the most success across these video categories:

  • Thought leadership
  • Educational videos
  • Company culture

LinkedIn is an especially impactful platform for videos that showcase your company culture. Give potential employees and partners a taste of your company’s values and what it’s really like to work at your company with employee intros, behind-the-scenes clips, and more. Educational videos and thought leadership content also tend to perform well.

One important thing to note about LinkedIn is that the buttoned-up nature of the platform makes it best for straightforward, simple videos. Business doesn’t have to mean boring, but we recommend saving your most creative and experimental video ideas for other platforms.

How we use video on LinkedIn at Wistia

We use video a lot to let people know about our educational content and share Wistia’s company culture. The culture piece, in particular, can be very effective on LinkedIn. The platform is a hotspot for employees looking and applying for jobs, so it can be the perfect channel to put your company’s values and perks front and center.

Here’s an example of education content from our video gear guide. This clip is repurposed from the full video included in the blog. Our main goal here was to preview the content and drive folks to the full blog for the deets.

Here’s a short clip we posted to tease our thought leadership series, (Out of) Office Hours. Short, snappy, and who doesn’t love dogs?! Our goal here was to raise awareness for the series and drive folks to join for the live event.

When we launched our podcasting feature, we created this behind-the-scenes video to show off the team that helped bring the product to life. This is a creative alternative to just posting your product launch hype video. We really wanted to celebrate the humans behind our brand.

Remember when we said business doesn’t have to mean boring? We meant it! Check out this clip we shared from our infamous Star Wars-inspired Terms of Service page. We share this video every year on May 4th as a nod to Star Wars Day.

LinkedIn video tips

As we’ve mentioned, LinkedIn’s focus on professional networking lends itself to business-related content. Save the wacky filters and trendy formats for Instagram. Instead, keep your concepts simple and focus on the value that you’re providing with your video content.

Since video is a pretty recent addition to LinkedIn, test several different types of video to see what resonates most with your followers.

Tip
Looking for a deeper dive? Explore our guide to LinkedIn video for tips on how this professional network with video content.

YouTube

We’ve all heard someone describe YouTube as the “second biggest search engine” after Google. This argument is often employed in debates over the necessity of having a presence on YouTube, but it’s not quite accurate.

Google, the world’s biggest search engine, is a bit like a supermarket or a mall: You can find everything there. On the other hand, YouTube is more like a library or a movie theater, where people go seeking either information or entertainment.

When it comes down to it, people usually visit YouTube to watch a video for a specific purpose, not make a purchasing decision. You should, therefore, cater your YouTube videos accordingly and focus on creating a specific, engaging channel.

How YouTube evolved

YouTube has always been a video-first platform. It merges some of the features and functionality of a social media platform (think likes, comments, shares) with a powerful search algorithm that surfaces highly personalized and relevant video content in an instant.

YouTube officially launched in 2005 after a short and very successful beta program. The platform quickly grew, achieving tens of millions of video views in a matter of months, which attracted lots of attention. Shortly after, Google acquired the video platform for $1.65 billion in stock.

Since its not-so-humble beginnings, YouTube has become a dominant player in the video space. As of summer 2021, there are an estimated 1.86 billion YouTube users worldwide. In 2019, there were 500 minutes of YouTube videos uploaded every minute (which translates to roughly 30,000 hours of video uploaded every hour!). Additionally, YouTube accounted for 21% of global video streaming traffic, trailing closely behind Netflix, which had 27% in 2019.

YouTube has also added tons of features for video viewers and hosts alike. Things like YouTube’s Creator Studio, Channels, subscriber alerts, and live video have made the video hosting platform more robust and engaging (though we’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention YouTube’s monetization through disruptive advertising here).

What type of video content works best?

There’s a high probability the people you want to reach are on YouTube. The challenge here, then, is not how to reach people as much as it is how to reach the right people.

According to SEMRush research, 82% of people use YouTube as a source of entertainment — which can sound tricky for a B2B company. However, 18% of people use YouTube specifically to follow brands and companies. The demand is there, you just need a solid strategy to find the pearls (also known as your niche).

Here are the types of videos that typically work well from a business perspective:

  • Search-driven content
  • How-tos and tutorials
  • Teasers and trailers

Search-driven videos use YouTube’s impressive search engine to their advantage by targeting popular keywords. You can use tools like Ahrefs and Keywordtool.io to identify potential queries that might be a good fit for your brand video content.

Educational content, like how-to videos and tutorials, also performs well on YouTube. There’s a lot of crossover with the search category here, so research what questions your audience asks and then decide how your content can help.

Teasers and trailers are a natural fit because of their entertainment value. These nuggets get folks hyped for your brand content and ideally direct them to your owned properties (your website) for the full viewing experience.

How we use video on LinkedIn at Wistia

At Wistia, we lean heavily into YouTube’s algorithm with search-driven and educational content. And, we leverage the platform’s love of entertainment by posting trailers to our brand video series.

This piece on shooting video with an iPhone helps educate folks on how they can create high-quality videos with tools they already have. It also takes advantage of existing demand by solving a common problem many marketers and creatives face.

We posted the trailer for our award-winning documentary, One, Ten, One Hundred to YouTube, and the video has over 1.6 million views to date. The post features a prominent Call to Action (CTA) in the description to watch the full series (on Wistia’s website, of course).

We’ve also tested longer-form content on YouTube, like this on-demand live event where our company founders discussed company debt and refinancing. We saw this video as an opportunity for our leaders to share their experiences with entrepreneurship, and we also directed viewers to a blog post that dives deeper into the conversation.

YouTube video tips

First impressions are super important on YouTube, so be sure to add a little extra effort to your video’s title and thumbnail. Like other platforms, use the native features to your advantage. Use video chapters to help folks skim your videos and links to drive them to additional content.

YouTube also offers a full analytics platform, so don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and dig into the data. This can help you make data-informed decisions that drive your overall content strategy.

Even if you can establish a YouTube channel with lots of subscribers, it’s only helpful if it’s reaching an audience that’s aligned with your business goals. If brand awareness is the name of the game, YouTube could be an awesome network for you to tap into. If you’re more interested in creating product-focused, conversion-driving content, this may not be the place to host it.

Tip
Interested in YouTube but not sure where to get started? We’ve got you! Take a peek at our YouTube strategy guide as a starting point.

Take a strategic approach to social media

We hope this guide helps you get your social video strategy off the ground or, if you’ve already started, allows you to take your strategy to the next level! Be sure to have a deep understanding of your niche audience and how each platform can support your goals. Cater your videos and overall strategy to connect the dots between these different channels and your audience, and watch your engagement soar.

April 14, 2021

Topic tags

Meisha Bochicchio

Marketing

Alyce Currier

Marketing

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