Social media has changed the landscape of digital video significantly in the last 20 years. Since we’re in the video world, we’ll need to know how to work with this.

Is making video for social media any different than “normal” video? How do you grab someone’s attention on a media platform? What do you do to achieve your objectives through video on social media? Keep reading to find out.

What’s Your Goal?

When you’re creating video for social media, you need to understand your ultimate end-goal. This will help you define your measure of success.

Just like any other video, if your end goal is to win new business, but you end up informing current customers, you’ve done something wrong. Knowing your ultimate goals will change how you approach your video.

Are you looking to build brand credibility? Interest potential buyers? Run a social campaign? Once this is clear in your mind, you’re ready to make a good video:

1. A Character-Driven Story

We’ve covered the concept of video storytelling before; it really is crucial for you to tell a story to connect with your audience. If you create the perfectly engineered social media video but have no story, you’re selling yourself short. Stories are how people understand the world and connect with one another, so use them!

On social media, character-driven stories – like Allegro’s English For Beginners video – do wonders. You want whomever lands on your video to be able to relate to the situation, imagine themselves in the place of that character, or understand the story as it relates to your company. Since an individual will be landing on your video whilst scrolling or reading their feed, single-character stories seem to do quite well.

Nintendo always does a great job showing their product in relatable situations (with great stories). We also see this often in car commercials – there’s a story to go along with why and how the car is useful to everyday life. If you get a handle on this point, you’ll be ahead of many other companies who aren’t yet capitalizing on this.

2. A Temperament That Matches Your Purpose

Oftentimes, social media videos are extremely bizarre just to draw attention. They don’t do a great job telling a story nor showing why their service/product matters. I’m sure that one or two examples of this are coming to your mind.

To have a successful video, you want the mood of your video to match your goal. If you’re doing a piece on life insurance, don’t make a joke out of it. If you’re looking to interest potential buyers in your software, don’t make a wacky video such that viewers will wonder how your video relates to your company.  Keep your videos silly up to a point, serious if need be, or funny if possible depending on your goals or the needs of your brand.

Once the temperament of your social media video matches your purpose, you’ll have honed your voice and will be one step closer to a great video.

3. A Short Length

This point is generally obvious on social media. There’s plenty of other articles with specifics on how to make great videos for each platform. The point? Keep your videos short.

Twitter only allows videos that are a maximum of 2 minutes and 20 seconds long. Instagram has a 60-second maximum. Snapchat videos are capped at 10 seconds. Whilst on social media, viewers aren’t looking to watch 20-minute videos, so 3 minutes should be your maximum length.

4. Attention-Grabbing

We all knew that this point would show up at some time. I’ve placed it lower on this list because the things that come before it are more important. We’ve all seen social media videos that put “attention-grabbing” over some more basic principles; this makes them off-putting and detracts from their message.

So what makes something attention-grabbing? Facebook recommends “starting with your most captivating elements, incorporating your brand message and identity early,” and “using engaging post copy.”

Figure out the most important message you want to deliver and then focus purely on that. Think “if a viewer only took one thing away from this, it would be _______.” Once you’ve filled in the blank, focus on that (and keep it simple).

There’s lots of design tips floating around, practically showing you how to do all of this. Although out of the scope of this article, I’d highly recommend that you browse around for those articles, as they’ll give you specific tips and tricks for engaging viewers. Remember that each social network has its own unique audience and needs to be treated differently. Depending on the network you’re building for, you may need to alter your approach.

Now that you know what makes a good social media video, you’ll know what to cut and what to keep. You’ll do a great job engaging customers and reaching your goals. If you make sure to tell a story, have a proper temperament, and make a short, appealing video, you’re off to the races!