Using video to boost social media engagement

Online videos may have started as a bit of a quirky gimmick, but they are now firmly established as one of the cornerstones of social media and using them well can really boost engagement with your brand. As with most aspects of social media, there are some guidelines to follow in order to maximise your return on investment. Here are three tips to help you:

1. Commit to making great video content

Even basic “talking head” videos require more resources to create and manage than text, basic audio (e.g. podcasts) or photographs. If you want to create content with higher production values, then you need to be able to devote a suitable level of resources to the production. If you can’t make this commitment, then it is usually best to leave well alone until you can.

To put this into perspective, as an absolute bare minimum you’ll want a decent camera (a smartphone may be fine, but it would need to be a good one), plus a microphone (not just the one in your camera), plus appropriate lighting (at the very least you will need a ring light).

You’ll also need to think about a suitable filming location (the less equipment you have, the more you should aim to film indoors in a quiet, well-lit room) and your presenter’s appearance (strong lighting often makes people look washed out so makeup is often a good idea).

2. Customise your videos to your platform

While YouTube is still, indisputably, the major video-hosting platform, its competitors are eager to steal its crown, or at the very least, grab a (large) slice of its pie.

You can, of course, host your video on YouTube and link to it from another platform, but the platform’s algorithm is highly unlikely to look favourably on this. You may also find yourself encountering user resistance. If people are on Platform A, it’s because they want to be on Platform A and they don’t necessarily want to be forced to go to Platform B to do something they know full well could be done on Platform A. In other words, limit your outlinking to an absolute minimum and you will please both the relevant algorithm and the human user community.

Most social media sites also now offer the option of ‘going live’, so you can talk to your followers and fans in a way that is perhaps more informal but engages their attention and is bang up to date. Take advantage of these options, especially as most platforms are prioritising live videos in user feeds for the time being.

3. Give as much thought to your thumbnail as your actual video

People do judge books by their covers and they do judge videos by their thumbnails. Your video thumbnail is, literally, a split-second window of opportunity for you to convince someone to click on the Play button, so do everything you can to make the most of it.

For bonus points, make sure that the opening of your video makes it abundantly clear what you are offering your viewer and, hence, why they should keep watching rather than clicking away.

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