A Guide to Video on Social Media

A Guide to Video on Social Media

Among social media professionals, opinions on trends and new developments vary wildly, but one thing that’s held to be nearly certain is that video is set to dominate marketing and media for at least the next decade. By 2021, video will account for 80% of all web traffic.

 

The increasing ubiquity of smartphones and a wide array of social media platforms and apps have become the avenue for an average of almost 3.5 hours of video watched every day in the UK alone. Video quickly grabs the attention and engagement of diverse audiences—without them even realizing it, if done well—by rapidly transmitting ideas in marketing content as visual entertainment. This represents a unique opportunity to strengthen relationships with customers and consumers, enhance brand awareness, and establish reputations for engaging and thought-provoking content. 

In this guide, we explore the current lay of the land in social media and the role video content plays in it. As an unparalleled opportunity to establish relationships with customers and consumers, boost brand awareness, and enhance your reputation for thought-provoking and innovative ideas, video content should be an essential part of your marketing strategy. Here, we’ve broken down the basics specs and benefits of some of the most popular video-hosting social media sites for you in one convenient place.

Top Video Social Media Platforms in 2020

We’ll focus on nine of the most popular, promising, and profitable ones in use today. While platforms like Facebook and YouTube continue to attract usersa in their hundreds of millions, there’s plenty newcomers with distinct advantages and characteristics to suit businesses and products of all types through their features and the audiences they attract.

Instagram

Famed as the progenitor of stripped-back, nothing-but-essentials social media posts, Instagram is wildly popular among users and businesses alike. Since its launch in 2013, it’s seen its business accounts grow to 25 million, all run by people who know that the app is a surefire way to catch the attention of over 1 billion users.

Available Formats 

Landscape, square, and portrait/vertical

Max Video Length

15 seconds for Instagram Stories, 10 minutes for Instagram TV, 60 seconds for all others.

Ideal Audience

  • Instagram is the perfect platform for entertainment, fashion, and media brands, as well as (famously) food. It’s a particularly good way to reach those under the age of 35, who make up 65% of the platform’s active user base, but with over 1 billion daily users, it’s hard to go wrong with reaching a wide variety of demographics.

Subtitle Support

  • Instagram doesn’t support the addition of optional subtitles, so you’ll have to “burn” them into your video with simple editing software prior to uploading. This kind of non-optional captioning is also called  “open captioning.”

    LinkedIn

    LinkedIn has recently enjoyed a boom in popularity among professionals and thought leaders who use it to quickly and simply convey core concepts from their respective fields of expertise. Video content is consumed by 75% of business owners every week, making LinkedIn a perfect place for B2B communication. Videos on LinkedIn see share rates more than 20 times higher than other forms of content, with video campaigns commonly resulting in viewing rates of 50%. LinkedIn content should be informative and professional but friendly and interesting in tone.

    Available Formats

    “CinemaScope” landscape and portrait/vertical

    Max Video Length

    10 minutes for shared videos, 30 minutes for ads. However, LinkedIn recommends 15 seconds for best performance.

    Ideal Audience

    • Longer average supported runtimes and an extensive catalogue of editing options make this platform stand out as a way to reach professional audiences interested in tutorials, documentary-style footage, and live broadcasts explaining your work and the benefits it offers.

    Subtitle Support

    • SubRip Subtitle files (SRT) can be added via a transcript of dialogue, making subtitles optional for users.

    Twitter

    Twitter is the go-to for sports, entertainment, and current events. Videos and ads are presented in identical formats in a seamless stream, so users organically encounter both as they explore their feeds. Because these videos play automatically and perform best in shorter lengths, viewers are more likely to watch them all the way through, consider the content actively, and remember the point of the video and the branding within after it’s finished.

    Available Formats

    Landscape and portrait/vertical

    Max Video Length

    140 seconds.

    Ideal Audience

    • While Twitter has a strong presence among young professionals in the English-speaking world, it also has tens of millions of users in China, India, and Japan, many of whom use it to track short segments of political news, music, TV and film releases, and influencers.

    Subtitle Support

    • SubRip Subtitle file (SRT). In the past, Twitter only supported the use of auto-generated closed captions, which describe ambient sounds as well as dialogue.

    Snapchat

    Snapchat is built on the back of short, snappy videos attracting 229 million daily users, over half of whom are 15-25 years of age. If you have a range of products to advertise, these can be inserted organically into a purpose-built story which gives viewers control over how and when to watch. You also have the option to create 15 second videos or single image ads for unobtrusive, but memorable, content.

    Available Formats

    Landscape and portrait/vertical

    Max Video Length

    10 seconds for standard video, 15 seconds for ads.

    Ideal Audience

    • Viewers younger than 25 years of age interested in eye-catching clips focused on current topics and trends in entertainment, fashion, and sport. Snapchat works best for video content when used in conjunction with other sites like Facebook, particularly if you’re trying to build a wide base of awareness. Remember that usership drops off sharply among age groups older than 25.

    Subtitle Support

    • Snapchat videos must either have open captioning, or the subtitled or captioned version of a video can be back-linked through a platform that supports SRT files, such as Facebook or YouTube.

YouTube

YouTube has reach like no other video-focused social media site, with 2 billion users worldwide and strong appeal across all demographics. Nearly 5 billion videos are watched on the site every day on both the desktop site and on mobile apps, hosting longer content comfortably and simply while providing ample ground for short pre-video ads.

Available Formats

Landscape only; vertical videos are automatically ‘pillar-boxed’

Max Video Length

  • Skippable Video Ad – 5 seconds
  • Non-Skippable Video Ad – 15 seconds
  • Mid-roll Video Ad –  available for content longer than 10 minutes. Can be skippable, but users must watch 30 seconds or entire ad, whichever is shorter.
  • Bumper Video Ads – 6 seconds
  • Standard videos – 12 hours 

Ideal Audience

  • Everyone uses YouTube, from teenagers to pensioners. The best way to boost engagement and awareness is through episodic playlists. These encourage viewers to click through to more content just because they play automatically, anchoring your image and name firmly in audiences’ minds.

Subtitle Support

SubRip Subtitle file (SRT) are supported for transcripted dialogue. Through the use of the proprietary YouTube Studio editing suite, you can also create closed captions which include details of sound, e.g., [doors closing] or [thunder].

Facebook

Facebook is outstanding for shared videos and ads with tons of options for formats and new features. Viewers are more likely to engage with honest, down-to-earth videos showing surprising but believable situations that get straight to the point. Memorable or surprising hooks are more likely to drive engagement and shares.

Available Formats

Landscape, portrait/vertical, 360° immersive video, square, right-hand column

Max Video Length

  • Shared post video – 120 minutes
  • 360 video – 40 minutes
  • Desktop news feed link video – 120 minutes
  • Carousel video ads – 30 seconds
  • Collection video ads (mobile) – 120 minutes
  • Canvas video ads in news feed (mobile) – 120 minutes
  • Autoplay video within canvas ad (mobile) – 120 minutes
  • Slideshow video ad – 120 minutes
  • Facebook Stories – 15 seconds

Ideal Audience

Subtitle Support

  • Facebook offers exceptional support for SRT files. You can use free software like Descript or oTranscribe to quickly generate and tweak thorough transcripts from which to create an SRT file.

TikTok

TikTok is one of China’s most significant social media exports, blossoming into the third most downloaded app worldwide with over 800 million users. Similarly to other platforms which favor ultra-short video content, it capitalises on 15-second shorts featuring popular topics like food, sport, athletic apparel, and fashion.

Available Formats

Landscape and portrait/vertical

Max Video Length

15 seconds or four 15-second segments for 60 seconds total.

Ideal Audience

  • TikTok’s appeal partly lies in the casual, homemade appearance of its best-performing content. Users are keen to engage with visually surprising and clever videos of ideally 16 seconds.

Subtitle Support

  • Only open captioning or burned subtitles can be used with TikTok content. Alternatively, you can add text directly through the platform with the use of the “Text” option in the uploader.

Vimeo

Vimeo has earned a reputation for more artisanal content than near-parallel YouTube, as demonstrated by its unlimited running time for full members. Its special business package, Vimeo Business, offers analytics, marketing insights, and advice for calls to action, placing a hefty array of controls in your hands when it comes to spreading the word about your business.

Available Formats

Landscape

Max Video Length

Unlimited for full members.

Ideal Audience

  • Vimeo offers almost unbeatable options for video and subtitle formats as well as terrific support for audio. This makes it perfect for film creators, animators, and musicians. Users are highly likely to visit the site for pop-up and banner ad-free content which is longer and more in-depth.

Subtitle Support

  • Vimeo offers the widest array of options for subtitling of the platforms in this guide, including the preferred WebVTT (.vtt), as well as SubRip Subtitle file (SRT), DXFP/TTML (.dxfp), Scenarist (.scc), and SAMI (.SAMI).

WeChat

WeChat operates in China with almost minimal competition, meaning more than 1 billion global users rely on this app for everything from simple messaging to paying bills and shopping. It’s also gaining steady ground in Europe and North America. The platform’s versatility and user-friendliness make it a natural home for natural placement for videos featuring entertainment, convenient financial apps, and lifestyle content.

Available Formats

Widescreen/landscape, square, and portrait/vertical

Max Video Length

Short video – 1-15 seconds

WeChat Moments ads – 6 to 15 seconds for preview, 5 minutes for full video.

Ideal Audience

  • Those interested in ultra-compact content on new trends and entertainment. WeChat is a giant in China, so if you’re looking to expand your reach there, it’s a good idea to craft brief videos focused on luxury products and entertainment like upcoming film releases. The Lunar New Year can see a significant boom in engagement as audiences look to gather gifts for friends and loved ones.

Subtitle Support

  • No innate support. However, basic video editing software will allow you to add captions directly to the video file. The edited file can then be uploaded with non-optional subtitles to the platform