Guidelines for Producing Effective Social Media Videos

There’s a big push across the major social media platforms to produce more native video content. Social video is a great way to connect with audiences and deliver memorable messages. It can be much more effective than static images or text alone. Statistics show that people spend more time on sites with video content, and they read and share video-based posts more often than posts with just text or photos.  However, as with any content posted to social media, videos need to be developed and produced with three things in mind:

1) Consistent Presence

One of our clients is a state government agency that is active on social media, with numerous Twitter accounts, a Facebook page, and a YouTube channel. Recent research shows that online videos are the most effective types of posts for actually reaching viewers - both based on user behavior (likes, shares, views) and due to site algorithms favoring posts with video over other types of content. To stand out from the clutter in people’s social media feeds, we set a goal for this client to use video more often, and more effectively, as part of their social media efforts.

One tactic we recommended was to produce and post a weekly project update video. It features the same spokesperson and follows the same format with a similar length. Now followers know that every Thursday afternoon they can visit Twitter or Facebook and find that week’s update.

Every video update is created in coordination with the client’s existing paid and earned media activities in print, online, and on TV. This consistency reinforces key messages and makes each component of the client’s media strategy more effective.

2) Unique and Relevant Content

Each week we create a shot list, shoot the footage, draft a script for the video, and then pull it all together with a stand-up shot of the client spokesperson on-camera, just like a reporter in a newscast.

The updates feature footage shot by a professional photographer, and in many cases we include high-definition aerial images shot with a drone. This offers a unique and interesting view of locations the viewers would not be able to get anywhere else — exclusive content.

There’s also a widely held belief that online videos shouldn’t be “too well-made” or look “over-produced.” That is definitely true here — we don’t want viewers to get the mistaken impression that we’ve spent exorbitant amounts of taxpayer dollars making 90-second videos each week. At the same time, we don’t want to post videos with shaky, blurry images or poor sound quality. We shoot for the sweet spot where the videos’ quality is just good enough that the viewer doesn’t notice the production, but focuses on the content.  

3) Authentic Voice

Videos provide an opportunity for you to tell your story in your own words. They also provide a human element - there’s an actual person, a “face” that viewers can hear and see. These weekly update videos show an agency employee, out on the job site, talking about projects - humanizing what would otherwise be a faceless, monolithic government agency. We also felt that using the agency’s primary spokesperson in these videos would be one more way to strengthen the connection across earned, paid, and social media, since viewers would be seeing the same person representing the department across all communication platforms.

To ensure that these videos meet objectives, we monitor views and engagement closely. We test the format and messages in focus groups to confirm that we’re on the right track — and to identify areas for improvement. For example, a recent focus group session confirmed that people like to see an actual agency employee relaying the information. We’ve also implemented some minor changes based on feedback, such as showing the PIO on camera longer and displaying more maps and graphics.

The average weekly update video has experienced a four-fold increase in views --more than 6,000 views in contrast to the agency’s previous videos that averaged approximately 1,500. We’re generating more interest and strengthening our client’s voice, one weekly video at a time.

The moral of the story: don’t be intimidated by creating social videos. By employing some strategic guidelines around your social presence, crafting unique and relevant content and being true to your brand, you can create some engaging, creative clips that capture your audiences’ attention.