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Want your videos to make a bigger impact on social platforms? Wondering how to create videos that grab and hold people’s attention?
In this article, you’ll discover three techniques to produce video people will watch on social media.
Note: This article assumes you have the basics in place for filming and producing social media video. To learn more about looking better on camera, improving production quality, and more, click here.
There are all kinds of stats online about how long viewers will stick around to watch a video on social media. Some claim 15 seconds, some claim 3 seconds, and others 5 seconds.
I don’t like these stats. They fill video creators with fear and dread. Viewers won’t sit with a stopwatch in hand waiting for you to impress them and then leave after 5 seconds if you haven’t.
What’s important is to hook them as quickly as you can and then unpack that hook. This introduction could take 60 seconds, but if you get the hook right at the very start, it’ll be impossible for them to look away.
Imagine you’re walking through a busy shopping center exhausted from a long day, and as you push through the crowd of people in your way, you notice something out of the corner of your eye inside a shop. You walk past it, stop, do a double-take, and then walk back toward it and check it out.
That’s a shopper’s pivot.
In video, you can achieve a similar effect to pull people into your content.
The majority of films you’ve seen start like this: You begin watching and think to yourself, “What’s going on here?” Then a few minutes into the film, things start to make sense. The very fact that you’re thinking about the point of the intro makes the content more engaging and leads you to want to know more. The rest of the film unfolds from there.
It’s almost like you missed the first part of the story so you scramble to keep up and try to work out what’s going on. This in turn creates the engagement required to keep viewers engrossed.
The good news is that several techniques will help you mimic this effect in your social media videos.
To start, you need to give people context. This happens in the thumbnail image and the written post. People don’t tend to click play on a video if they have no idea what it’s about so this is where you set up your video’s content.
Tell a story. Stories create engagement and pull people in. People can’t help but picture what’s being described. In my earlier story about walking past a shop window, you probably pictured the shopping center in your mind, which made you pay attention. Then I unpacked the point I was trying to make. Intros like this are attention gold.
Use metaphors. A metaphor is a figure of speech that implies a comparison. You take information someone might not understand and relate it to something they’ve likely experienced. Again, this forces people to engage. I used this technique earlier when talking about the shop window.
Get straight to it. Lots of videos start with introductions. The person on the screen says who they are and what they plan to talk about. But viewers are selfish; they only want the information they came for—what was promised to them in the post.
If your video is called “5 Tips to Sell More Shoes” and you start with, “Number one: Price” and then hit viewers with your best point to start with, they’ll be shocked by your efficiency and hang on longer. You might even get comments thanking you for not wasting their time.
Remember, people don’t want to get to know you online at first; that comes over time and through multiple videos.
Share a surprising stat. Stats get thrown around all the time but if you have one that will surprise people, lead with it and let the rest of the video go on from there.
The key to all of this is to remember you’re not just competing against other people in your niche for attention on social media; you’re competing with everyone. A creative and well-planned intro is a must.
When you’ve hooked your viewer, the battle isn’t won, although you’ve made a better start than most. There’s one thing that can (even with an amazing shopper’s pivot) destroy your engagement, and that’s delivery.
You could have the best video content in the world but if it’s delivered in a dull, nervous, monotonous tone, you’ll lose the viewer’s attention, and worse, damage your credibility. People are attracted to confidence and charisma. Even if you don’t have either (although I’m sure you do), here’s how you can fake it.
The moment you stand in front of a camera, something strange will happen to you. Even if you’re a professional who’s used to public speaking, you’ll struggle to think, let alone talk, and you’ll lose a ton of energy. This means the social connection you need on camera will sink.
In fact, the camera alone will suck out about 20% of your energy. This means you need to overcompensate and put it back. Here’s how.
Start by filming a line or two as a test; 20 seconds or so should work.
Then watch it back. You won’t like the sound of your voice and you’ll probably think you look awkward and wonder what you should be doing with your hands. Don’t worry; that’s normal.
Now film the same section again, but this time, use an over-the-top delivery like a pantomime performer. (In the UK, these are theatrical events for children and the performers in them are always very over the top.) Your delivery needs to be ridiculous. Remember, no one is going to see it so have fun!
That’s panto mode.
When you’re done, watch it back and compare it to your original take. You should find that the version of you with 120% energy works!
If you think your delivery is too over the top, dial it down and try again. Not enough energy? Add some.
It will feel uncomfortable to start. However, once you see how confident and credible you appear on camera when you find the right level of energy, presenting on camera will become an enjoyable experience for you and your viewers.
Trying to create a video in one long take is difficult and you want to make the process as easy as possible to ensure your content works. This is where chunking comes in. It’s a technique that makes presenting easier and video content more visually stimulating. It involves recording your video in segments (or chunks) and then piecing those segments together.
Start by filming a few sentences. Stop when there’s a natural pause or change in information. You might want to do a few versions of this take. Or if you think you nailed it, move on to the next chunk.
Before you start recording the next section of content, zoom in or move the camera a little closer so you appear about 20% larger on the screen. Film the next few sentences and stop. Then move the camera back and shoot again.
Pro Tip: Make sure you move the camera rather than yourself; otherwise, the background will stay the same size and it’ll look odd. It would take another article to explain why so you’ll have to trust me on this one.
See how the frame size changes in these images each time we cut and move the camera?
When you finish filming your video, put each chunk into your editing timeline and piece them together.
Every time the viewer sees one of these cuts, it’s another visual prod that keeps their attention focused on you. It also gives your video more energy and instills confidence. The viewer won’t even notice it’s happening.
If you film a video and nobody hits play on it, did you even make a video? Getting your video noticed and clicked is the initial battle on social media. Forget the content right now; this is all about first impressions and sticking out on timelines.
No matter what social media platform you’re using, the written post with your video plays an important role in persuading your audience to watch (as we discussed earlier). But the image or thumbnail that comes with that post is what people will notice and it needs to grab their attention.
This is an example of a bad thumbnail image:
Here’s why it doesn’t work:
Now let’s look at an example of a good thumbnail image:
Here’s why it works:
Prada doesn’t cover their store windows with cheap stickers. Instead, their window displays convey pure quality to potential shoppers. Your video thumbnail needs to do the same.
If you can include a person’s face (preferably conveying emotion) and some text in your thumbnail, you’re more likely to get clicks (based on findings from YouTube). It makes sense—people love interacting with human beings, especially on social media.
If you’re not able to include an image of a person on your thumbnail, make sure you use quality stock images. Tell a story that hints at what the video is about.
Once you have an eye-catching image, here’s how to share it when posting your video.
To choose the thumbnail for your LinkedIn video post, click Start a Post and select the Video icon.
Navigate to the video you want to share and then click Edit.
Now click Select File and choose your image.
To upload a thumbnail with your Facebook video post, click Create Post and select Photo/Video.
Click Thumbnail on the right side of the screen and then click Add Image on the left. Now select the image you want to use.
To select a thumbnail for an IGTV post, upload your video to Instagram and select IGTV.
Then tap Add From Gallery and choose your image.
Alternatively, you can add the thumbnail image you want to show up on social feeds as the first frame in your video. It will then display as the video starts to autoplay.
When someone hits play, they won’t notice it flash for a split second if the video starts from the beginning again.
Note: For Instagram videos, this is the best way to show a thumbnail image because you can only choose a frame from the video.
If you’re creating thumbnails for paid ads on Facebook and Instagram, avoid using too much text in them to ensure optimum reach and results. The text should not take up more than 20% of your image. Otherwise, it will either be rejected or the reach will be impacted significantly.
Here’s an example of a thumbnail for a YouTube video that contains too much text for Facebook.
To reuse this thumbnail in a Facebook ad, you’d have to simplify it with less text, as in the example below.
Pro Tip: If you’re not a designer, Canva has some high-quality free and paid templates you can use to create thumbnails for your social media videos or you can turn to a platform like Fiverr or OnlineJobs.Ph to hire a designer to do it for you.
For too long, video has been touted as the answer to all of a marketer’s problems. It’s not. While video once had a novelty factor, now it’s expected as part of your regular communication.
But it’s not something you’ll be good at right away. You’ll often hear people say “done is better than perfect.” While that’s generally correct, “done” still needs to be good. If you review your video and don’t think it’s any good, you’ll need to put in some more work.
I’ve used all of the techniques above on thousands of occasions and I’m confident that if you trust in the system, you’ll make highly engaging videos you’ll be proud of.
What do you think? Are you inspired to try any of these techniques to improve your next video? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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