The Social Media Video Checklist

May 9, 2019

Topic tags

Maria Theo

Creative

Don’t think you have enough time to make a video for social media? Aren’t really sure where to begin? Pish posh! There’s no reason to let these hesitations stop you from making your social video dreams come true. And while there’s no secret formula for crafting the perfect video, there are some key steps you can follow to ensure your videos are not only well-thought out and impeccably executed, but also engaging and entertaining. So, without further adieu, here’s our comprehensive checklist for creating videos for social media.

1. Make sure you have a defined goal

Before jumping into the production of any video, it’s important to remember why you’re making the video in the first place and what you want it to accomplish. Do you want to increase engagement with your followers, share a glimpse into your company culture, or even promote another bigger piece of content? Ask yourself these types of questions before you shoot and you’ll have an easier time understanding what success looks like once it’s out in the world. Without a clear goal in mind from the start, it’ll be difficult to know which metrics matter most once its seen by all your followers.

2. Know where you’re going to share it

Speaking of followers, social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all suited for different types of content and audiences. So, before jumping into creating your video, consider what makes each platform unique and how you can tailor your content to the platform itself.

For example, LinkedIn is all about making business connections and growing professionally, whereas Instagram is more about personal connections and keeping up with friends or influencers. Because people have different expectations about what types of content are shared on each platform, it’s always important to keep the context of the channel in mind.

“Because people have different expectations about what types of content are shared on each platform, it’s always important to keep the context of the channel in mind.”

Beyond the type of content you create, you’ll also want to consider how it’s formatted. Here’s a quick run-down of the maximum video lengths for each platform, plus some recommendations for ideal video length, thanks to this helpful article:

  • Facebook: 120 minutes (Recommended: 10–30 seconds)
  • Twitter: 2 minutes, 20 seconds (Recommended: 45 seconds
  • Instagram feed: 60 seconds (Recommended: 30 seconds or less)
  • Instagram Stories: 15 seconds (Recommended: 15 seconds)
  • Snapchat: 10 seconds (Recommended: 8–10 seconds)
  • LinkedIn: 10 minutes (Recommended: 30 seconds–5 minutes

It’s especially wise to optimize for small screens since over half of online video views occur on mobile. For mobile video editing, square video is your best friend. Not only is square video the default in the Instagram feed, but it’ll also take up more real estate on Facebook, too.

You can upload both square and portrait videos to Twitter, but because of the way the mobile feed is laid out, you’ll only see previews in the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio. You don’t want your content to get cut off, so we recommend sticking with horizontal video on Twitter. And last but not least, if you’re editing video for Snapchat, Instagram Stories, or Facebook Stories, you’ll want to shoot video vertically and then edit within the 9:16 aspect ratio.

Pro-Tip
If you plan on repurposing one video across multiple platforms, make sure all the essential content can fit in the frame — especially when creating a vertical video from a horizontal one!

3. Determine your resources and level of production

This is a big one! Thinking outside the box is always encouraged, and especially by us (creativity is one of our company values, after all). But, it’s important to stay realistic here and make sure you’re not over-scoping your video. If your first idea is to shoot your video in a rainforest, maybe see if you can achieve a similar look by shooting in a park close to your office instead.

As for props, look around and see what you already have in your office before you buy anything new. It would be a real bummer to go out and buy a new top-hat only to realize you had one kicking around from a previous shoot. And speaking of using what you have, when it comes to building your set, you can usually work with a set up you already have in your office! Move things around, take a few test shots, and get creative. What may look “off” in one corner could look great in another.

This is also a good time to figure out if you’ll need any additional help from other folks on your team. Can you film this by yourself? Will there be scenes where you need some teammates to step in as extras? Before scripting, make sure you understand what resources you have available to you.

4. Write a compelling script

Even if you don’t have dialogue in your video, it’s important to have a concept and an idea of what each shot will look like. In the world of social video, nothing feels worse than getting to the editing stages and realizing you didn’t get the shots needed to get your point across. Take, for example, this educational video we made for social:

As you can see, there’s no dialogue or people present in this video, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t still need to write a script first to make sure we incorporated all the must-have information. We can’t say it enough — script, script, script!

5. Block off more time than you think you’ll need

Just because social media videos are typically short, doesn’t mean you should only book off an hour to get all the shots you need. It’s really easy to think, “Oh, a video for social media? That won’t take that long!” or “I’ll be able to get that shot later,” but if you don’t have a specific time set aside for filming, you run the risk of getting caught up in other things and not getting the shots you need. This is especially important if you’re working with other people — you always want to make sure you’re making the most of everyone’s time!

6. Shoot with the edit in mind

Shooting for the edit is a pretty simple concept — all it means is that you should keep in mind how you’re going to edit your footage in the near future while you shoot. Before pressing that sweet, sweet record button, make sure your actors have rehearsed their lines, the shot is in focus and well-lit, and double check that the camera is stabilized. Keeping these things in check will cut down on the amount of footage you need to sift through later on.

And as always, be sure to shoot some b-roll. You might not think you’ll need it, but a lot of the time b-roll is what supplements the story and drives the piece visually. So once you think you’ve got the shot, keep rolling for about 10 seconds. That’s usually when the good laughs and candid moments happen. Having those gems will help diversify your shots and make your editing process much easier!

“You might not think you’ll need it, but a lot of the time b-roll is what supplements the story and drives the piece visually.”

7. Make the edits snappy

Social media is a superhighway of information. Viewers are constantly running into new content everywhere they turn. So, start with some action and eye-catching footage right away to capture your viewer’s attention. In this case, “action” doesn’t have to mean a car chase or something super outlandish. Take this post from Glossier for example:

In this video, Glossier is promoting its latest product, Bubblewrap, an under eye cream. It starts with the subject somewhat humorously drinking a cup of tea, which is a nice, subtle hook. It then quickly jumps into him using the product and explaining the benefits succinctly. The video only lasts about 20 seconds, but by the end of it, we know exactly how to use Bubblewrap and what it does. ~Chef’s kiss~ You only have your viewers attention for so long, so take a page from Glossier’s book and don’t waste any time!

8. Always add captions

The best videos are the ones that can be consumed by everyone. And not only that, but captions can also help you get your message across more effectively, regardless of where or when someone is watching your video.

Over the past few years, Google and Apple have both released updates to their browsers that prohibit autoplaying videos with the sound on. And by now, you’ve probably noticed that any video posted to a social platform — whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram — starts silently as well. So, you want to make sure you’re meeting people where they are in their feeds, and that’s with the sound turned off.

“You want to make sure you’re meeting people where they are in their feeds, and that’s with the sound turned off.”

Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to upload SRT files, but what about Twitter and Instagram? You want to make sure your viewers can still get the most out of your content, so we recommend “burning in” your captions to the video itself before you upload to your platform of choice. This just means that you’re merging the captions file with the video file so they’re one and the same.

To burn in your captions, we recommend using the free program, Handbrake. Here’s how to get it all set up:

  • Upload your video on Handbrake and navigate to the Subtitles tab.

Image 2018-09-05 at 1.42.47 PM

  • Once there, click the dropdown menu that says “Tracks" and choose the option,“Add External SRT…”

Screen Shot 2019-05-07 at 2.25.04 PM

  • Upload your video’s .SRT
  • Once that step is complete, press the green play button up top and voila! A copy of your video with burned in captions will be exported.

9. Choose an eye-catching thumbnail

This step mainly applies to Instagram, since the other platforms display auto-playing videos on their feeds. On Instagram, your video will live on your profile’s grid, so it’s important to make sure the video thumbnail is click-worthy. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here, but always be sure to stay away from blurry shots or drab colors when choosing your thumbnail.

Makings of a good thumbnail include, but are not limited to:

  • Smiling faces
  • Cute animals
  • Bright colors
  • Text overlays
  • Crisp images

Here’s an example of one of our favorite, click-worthy thumbnails:

Our office dog Lenny sitting at a computer? Faris looking perplexed and surprised? Don’t know about you, but we’d definitely press play on this product update video.

10. Include a Call to Action (when it makes sense)

Whether you leave a CTA in your company’s bio or actually write it into your script at the end of your video, you always want to tell your viewers where they should go next. Of course, some videos for social don’t require a call to action, so don’t add one in if it doesn’t make sense. Here’s an example of a video we shared of our team painting a mural in our office that didn’t require a call to action:

This video is an example of a brand touch video that often doesn’t require the viewer to take action afterward. When we wanted to promote our latest blog post, however, we gave viewers direction around where to go after watching if they wanted to get more intel:

Whatever the case may be, when crafting a CTA to support your social video, you want to make sure you are persuasive, but not too pushy. Adding something as simple as “Click the link in bio for more!” to your caption or including “Check out our new post!” at the end of your video can help get the job done. If a viewer loved your video and wants more, you should strive to make it as easy as possible for them to take the next step.

And that’s a wrap

There you have it! From setting your goals and scripting your video, to adding captions and making snappy edits, you now know what it takes to make a successful video for social media. Keep this checklist with you and remember to take it one step at a time (and have fun with it!). So what you are you waiting for? Grab a camera or pick up your phone and get going!

May 9, 2019

Topic tags

Maria Theo

Creative

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