Social Media Guide: How to Create Compelling Social Videos That Your Audience Will Crave

You’ve decided the type of video you’d like to create for your brand, or for your clients. You know it’s going to hit your marketing goals right out of the park. You have the perfect story in mind for this video, one that’ll reduce your audience to tears in under a minute on all the social platforms. It’s that good. 

Everything’s going according to plan.


Here’s what you need to do next.

Step 1 - Prepping your videos via storyboards

Before you start shooting the video, you need to have a basic idea in mind how the video’s going to look. And you’ll also need to share this idea visually with your clients and team members so they can prep accordingly. 

That’s where storyboards come in. 

Storyboarding is a crucial part of creating a successful social media video campaign - regardless of whether you’re creating a couple of seconds long product video for Instagram like Warby Parker’s, or a minute long promotional video for Facebook, like Marriott’s, or even creating a full blown product video for YouTube, like John Lewis’s.

Creating a storyboard prior to creating a video makes the entire process efficient, ensures that you create videos that are hitting the right goals, and allows you to share your vision with your clients and team members. It also helps you map all the things you require to create that specific video - equipment, budget, lightning, actors, time schedule, and so on. 

 
 

You can’t create a video off-the-cuff and expect it to be a viral hit. Occasionally, you might hit the jackpot (and to retain authenticity and keep your social profiles a bit more casual, you need to add a few off-the-cuff videos, too). but for long-term results and to create successful video campaigns, storyboarding your videos is essential. Here’s one for Loreal’s promotional video.

You don’t need to be an artist to create a professional looking storyboard for your videos. A couple of shapes and line men can also do the job. Just sketch out all the scenes you have in your mind on a piece of paper. 

This will help the videographers, costume designers (if you’re shooting a high-budget video), actors, light technicians, and other team members understand what you’re planning and have envisioned for this shoot. 

Outline the main elements of your story. 

A story, no matter how short or long it is, needs to have some sort of structure. Generally, the structure includes an opening, discovering a problem, finding a solution to that problem, and finally a conclusion with a strong call to action.

Draw all the scenes.

Use a software to create a storyboard:

  • Google Presentation 

  • Storyboard That

  • Adobe Photoshop Sketch, and 

  • Boords 

Or simply draw it yourself on a piece of paper. Whatever works. Doodle to the best of your capability. 

Add arrows to show where one scene ends and the next begins, and use the art of perception to help the camera person visualize the level of zoom you want in that scene. 

Add important notes in all frames. 

Time schedule, actors needed, costumes, filming equipment required, place where you’re going to shoot each scene, dialogues, props, etc.  

Do a dry run.

Once you have the storyboard in place, doing a dry run helps you and your team visualize the entire video. Even if it’s a short video, it helps you remove all kinks, make sure the story flows flawlessly and all the other video bits and bobs are in place before shooting the final run. 


Step 2 - Lights, Camera, Action - Using the right production equipment

Every brand is dabbling in video on social media nowadays. Some are creating good quality videos, and some not-so good. You want to set yourself apart from others by creating spectacular quality videos. 

And, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t require a truck load of equipment either. Just a few good pieces of video gear can make a world of difference in your video quality. 

Camera

We’ve discussed in detail the best cameras for every budget in this post. Whether you’re strapped for cash, looking for an amazing mid-level video camera, or looking to go all out and splurge on the best of the very best, there are lots of options for everyone in that post. 

Below is a list of the other popular cameras that were created specifically for social video (and the many frills and features it comes with).

GoPro Hero 7 Black

For vlogging, live-streaming, and just general on-the-spur social video producing, GoPro’s latest Hero 7 is a fantastic choice, especially at a really affordable price tag, $399.

Engadget concludes their GoPro Hero 7 review with:

If you live on social or love to share in real time, the Hero 7’s portrait mode, snackable videos, TimeWarps, live streaming and improved HDR images are all going to sing to you, or at the very least, give your trusty phone a run for its money.”
— Engaget's GoPro Hero 7 Review

Sony a6500

An excellent alternative to a more traditional DSLR camera, Sony’s a6500, priced at $1099 mirrorless camera is a part of (almost) every director and YouTuber’s video equipment kit. It’s compact, shoots stunning pro-quality HD videos, has in-image body stabilization, and is a perfect choice for all video professionals looking to create on-the-spur, bite-sized, professional-quality social videos. 

If you’re looking for a mid-level video camera, look no further.

Tripod

Tripod is essential. I can’t tell you the number of hours I’ve wasted trying to balance my DSLR on a pile of books or a low table (and this one time even 3 chairs propped together - don’t ask me why) because I wanted to shoot an unboxing video. 

Don’t do that. 

Just buy a tripod. It’s easier, better, not too expensive, and much more efficient. 

When purchasing a tripod for social videos, look for the following features:

  • Durability: Along with your smartphone, it should also be able to support your DSLR. 

  • Stability: Not only do you want your video gear to be safe while shooting, you also want a steady, smooth video.

  • Smooth Motion: Do you want smooth pan and tilt motions? Of course you do. While shooting brand films and more cinematic content for social media, look for a tripod with fluid head. For other types of videos, you may not necessarily need a fluid head.

Also, remember two things - don’t scrimp on money (the cheaper the tripod, the more wobbly and unstable it might be), and get clear on what type of videos you want to shoot before you buy a tripod. The type of videos you plan to shoot and the camera you choose to shoot it with will determine the type of tripod you need to buy. 

Manfrotto PIXI EVO 2
My favorite is Manfrotto’s PIXI EVO 2. It’s light, durable and versatile. It easily holds my DSLR with a 55-200mm lens, and it’s light so I can carry it with me everywhere (great for on-the-spur videos and impromptu live sessions) and vlog at will.

Bluetooth Remote

HISY Bluetooth Remote

When you’re shooting live videos with your iPhone or android device, using a bluetooth remote to instantly turn on and turn off your videos (without reaching towards your phone and disrupting the flow of your live session) is super-useful. You can also use this remote if you’re shooting other types of social videos (especially Instagram and Facebook Stories) while your phone is propped up on a tripod.

My favorite is HISY’s bluetooth headset, and looking at Amazon’s review section, you’ll notice it’s everyone else’s favorite, too.

Lights

You can get away with an average camera, but you can’t get away with average lighting. Your video’s lighting needs to be spot on to set the right ambiance, ensure you and your guests look flattering, your products look amazing, and give your videos an overall professional touch.

The easiest and cheapest trick is to use natural light. If you’re shooting a social video that doesn’t require a lot of moving, try to find a place with ample natural light and shoot there. Remember to face the light as much as possible in this case so that natural light lights up your whole face, instead of casting you in a silhouette.  

However, due to natural lights’ volatile nature (it can change from light to dark pretty quickly and cast harsh shadows on the subject if the light is too intense), you may also need to invest in a good quality lightning kit to ensure same lighting throughout the video. 

The most commonly used lighting setup is the 3 point lighting setup.

Even in this setup you can use golden hour’s natural light as your fill light with two other light sources.  

If you’re on a budget, Studio FX’s lighting set is a great option. But if your budget’s a little higher, you can look into GVM’s 3-point LED barn door lighting setup.

Audio

For social videos, audio is as important as your camera and lighting equipment. No one likes bad quality, groggy audio (with random wind and other background noise), and absolutely no one likes spending hours correcting the audio in post production. So to take care of both these issues, invest in a decent quality microphone. It will instantly improve your interview videos, product tutorials, impromptu live sessions, and pretty much all other types of social videos you dabble in.

My favorite lavalier and shotgun mics are:

Rode VideoMic Me-L

This is hands down the best microphone for smartphone videography. Live streaming, interviews, BTS videos, taking followers with you on events, shooting a Stories Q and A, this mic is a must have for all types of social videos. For $65, you really can’t go wrong with this. 

And if you’re a DSLR or a video camera kinda videographer, then Rode’s VideoMicro Compact On-Camera Microphone is a great alternative. 

Rode smartLav+

If you want strong and clear audio quality while shooting a collaborative video with influencers, an in-person Q and A, or even a brand and product video, clipping a tiny (un)obstructive mic on the speaker’s shirt is the way to go. With a lav mic as good as Rode’s SmartLav+, you can shoot a video on a noisy street with your iPhone and still ensure crystal clear audio. It also makes post-production audio editing a lot easier. 

If you’d like to use this with your DSLR, buy the Rode SC3 adapter, as well.

Teleprompter

If you’re not working with Ben Affleck, Steve Carell, or Anna Kendrick (and let’s face it, most brands are not), you might need a teleprompter to help out everyone who’s going to be in your social videos. From employees to customers, and sometimes even you, everybody feels nervous first couple of times and there’s always a fear of forgetting lines. Teleprompter ensures that your video flows smoothly.

You can simply use your phone as a teleprompter and add an app called Teleprompt +3 in it. Or you could set up your laptop on a chair to work as a teleprompter. 

You can also it for live screening or vlogs.

Step 3 - Elements of a viral-worthy social video

Before you start shooting there are a few best practices of social media videos that you need to keep in mind. You can either create a video and learn from your mistakes, or before creating a video find out what mistakes you shouldn’t make

First few seconds are crucial

“We know that 65% of people who watch the first three seconds of a video will watch for at least ten seconds and 45% continue watching for thirty seconds.” 

Facebook found with Nielsen that up to 47% of the value in a video campaign was delivered in the first three seconds, while up to 74% of the value was delivered in the first ten. So you really need to make those first few seconds count. 

You can use cover photos that elicit attention with attention-grabbing text overlays to make even more impact. 

Add CTA’s every few seconds to ensure your audience’s attention doesn’t dwindle. Or if it does, at least they’ve seen your CTA before they clicked . In the video below, notice how they show the end in the first frame to build curiosity and intrigue.

Incorporate storytelling

In this day and age, you need to create a powerful connection with your audience to persuade them to buy from you. That powerful connection can only be built with carefully crafted stories around topics that tug at your audience’s heart. 

According to Harvard Business Review when people watch an emotional ‘hero’ story, the brain releases a neurochemical, oxytocin, which makes viewers more charitable and compassionate. This is one of the main goals of creating a social media video strategy - warming up cold prospects and forging a strong emotional bond with them.

This is why more and more brands are incorporating emotional, funny, heartwarming stories in their videos, especially in their longer brand films. Show independent and strong female characters. Inject humor by showing goofs your audience is likely to make in situations that tie nicely with your product. Evoke tears by showing underdogs win in life. Use the loneliness of an old man, heartbreak of a sincere women, tears of a small, defenseless child. 

And simply be honest. 

Weave stories around your subject matter and incorporate emotions in it. Even if you’re creating a short 15 seconds videos, try to add some element of storytelling in it. 

Film in landscape or go square

Don’t shoot portrait. No one likes those two obstructive, black bars taking up space on their mobile devices. 

And according to Buffer’s research, their square videos outperformed landscape videos on social media. So either shoot in landscape or square, and see which works best for your audience. For stories, however, portrait is best. 

Add a CTA and related hashtags

Viewers watched your video till the end. Well done, your hard work paid off. But now what? Buzzing with positive energy, they’ll simply click the and go back to their feed. Opportunity wasted. 

Add a CTA to all your videos. Short or long, gently nudge viewers to the next step. It could be something as simple as ‘tag a friend’, or a hard-sell like ‘buy this at 20% - offer available for the next 2 hours only.’ 

Subtitles

More than 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound, hence, the need to add subtitles and captions to your videos is essential. Not just on Facebook, but all social media platforms. Also, research from Facebook claims that adding captions to your video can boost view time by 12%.

“We wanted to let our guests know that we use chicken that is raised without antibiotics, so we created a video that told that story. We used the automated captioning tool to make sure everyone who watched it, with or without sound, could learn about our chicken. Adding captions increased watch time by 25%.” 
— Robert Cifarelli, Communications Manager, A&W Canada

You can opt for one of these options to automatically add captions to your videos. However, you’ll need to go through it with a fine tooth comb to make sure the subtitles are error-free. 

Generate captions via Facebook videos for published and unpublished videos, both. 

You can also upload your video on YouTube and use it’s automatic subtitle generation option. 

youtube-published-video-caption-files.png

Or simply type the subtitles manually yourself and upload them while editing the video or hire a freelancer to transcribe your videos for you.

Use one video to create multiple others

To make your process far more efficient, create multiple videos from a single video so you can post to multiple social media platforms and have a month’s worth of content.

For example, if you’re creating a product tutorial, 

  • You can create a teaser of that video that’s just a couple of seconds long,

  • A behind the scenes video,

  • Broadcast the video creation or editing process Live on Facebook or (preferably) Instagram

  • A slow-mo video of some part of that video

  • A  fast motion video of the entire video

  • A video of the goofs made in that video

  • A video montage (fast motion) of all the product videos you’ve made to date.

And so on. You get it right? There are several videos you can make from a single video. But this won’t happen by accident, you need to carefully decide this and map out all the different video options you have with one video.

Warby Parker did something similar. Albeit, it was really simple.

From this:

They then made this:

So don’t spend all of l your time, money and effort in creating just one video - get a couple more videos out of that one shoot.

Put your audience first 

Create videos that your audience would love to see. Find out your audience’s problem areas related to your niche by using Quora, Reddit, or even simply going over to your competitors social media pages and seeing what kind of video content worked best for them. Then create your own video strategy and base your videos around topics that you know your audience is actively searching answers for. 

For example, if you’re in the real estate niche, depending on your marketing goals, you could make video from a podcast on the best or worst time to sell, like this:

Use animations where possible

Social media and the folks there love quirky, fun videos. This is why Instagram constantly comes up with interesting animations to add to your stories. 

Countless editing apps also have fun animations that you can add to your videos. From fun text options to doodles, drawing and animated GIFs, you can add them all to your Stories to give it a unique touch. 

Or you can hire a professional to animate your videos.

Step 4 - Editing

After you’ve recorded your videos, what’s next? Tweaking and editing them, till they’re social media ready. 

There are several really useful and cool editing apps that help you edit your videos on the go. Some of my favorite (and the industry’s in general) include,


Play around with them and you’ll quickly learn to edit and trim your videos till they’re ready to go.

If you’d like more control with your editing, you can use iMovie, Adobe Premiere Elements, or Final Cut Pro X. They’re professional video editing tools and are used by video creatives all across the globe.

Wrapping up

According to Wyzowl’s The State of Video Marketing 2019, brands and marketers have big plans to create even more social video content in the coming years. 

  • YouTube: 88 percent of marketers say they plan to use it in 2019

  • Facebook: 78 percent of marketers plan to use Facebook Video in 2019

  • Instagram: 67 percent say they plan to use Instagram video in 2019

  • Twitter: 43 percent plan to use Twitter video in 2019

To compete in this highly competitive digital world, you need to be on your A game. That means consistently producing engaging and converting video content for your social platforms. Start off with a clear strategy, understand your niche and audience’s demands, and then produce video content that would instantly attract, engage, educate, and convert them.