12 tips for effective social media video content

Video dominates reach on social media, but like with all social media content, it’s not going to perform if it’s not interesting. This guide aims to help you when creating video content to ensure it is effective and engaging to help you achieve your social media goals.

1. Equipment isn’t everything, especially when asking people to create content for you. A smartphone has everything you need to create simple video content for social media.

2. Think carefully about where you film, make sure you’re in a quiet location, keep windows closed and turn off anything that makes sounds that the microphone could pick up. If you’re filming outside, find shelter if there is any wind, as this will be picked up and is difficult to remove.

Natural light is great, but if you’re filming near a window, don’t have it behind you, either face the window or have it alongside you. If you don’t have a natural light source, try using a lamp to light your face or even a ring light that can be attached to your phone.

3. Portrait or landscape? That is the question, and it depends on where you intend for the video to be shared. If you’re creating TikTok/Instagram Reels-only content, film in portrait. If you want to use the content across multiple platforms, we’d recommend filming in landscape but with enough space to be able to crop to different formats for different channels. 

4. Don’t hold the phone; even if the video is short, getting a good angle and keeping your hand still while talking is difficult. We’d always recommend propping your phone up or asking someone to hold the camera for you (this is also a bonus, as you can then use the back camera, which is higher resolution than the front camera). 

Side note: There’s a lot of great vlogging content out there where people hold the phone. It can sometimes fell more intimate and engaging but it’s not always great for quality and accessibility. So while we’d recommend propping up your device or using a tripod it can depend on your style and your audience.

5. Tell a story. Talking heads are great but can also be very repetitive. Can you add some B-roll content that builds a picture of what you’re talking about? If it’s an event, show footage from the event. If it’s about work you’re doing, can you show the subject working, even if it’s the subject writing at a computer or talking with colleagues, it’s great to have something you can cut to, to break up the video.

You can also create videos entirely from B-roll and include a voiceover. Like this example from Sightsavers.

6. Use subtitle/captions, it’s so important to make sure your content is accessible to everyone, but also, the majority of people will watch a video with the sound off (53%-78%) according to ChatterBlast, so if what is being said is the hook, the aim of your video will be lost on the majority of people.

And make sure your captions are on brand, using the same font you use across all your content. 

7. Keep it concise, 30 to 60 seconds is enough, but you can often get your point across in 15 seconds. It’s not always about the ‘what’, as that can be included in the post copy; you will grab more attention with the ‘why’. This is especially important when selling an event or product.

8. Grab attention early, hook your audience in the first 3-5 seconds. Often this is wasted on an introduction of the person talking. But this isn’t always needed.

9. Use visuals, this can be name cards or transitions. Something that keeps the watcher engaged and entertained. Remember to keep these on brand.

10. Have a strong call to action (CTA). What is your desired action from the person watching this video? A CTA can either come from the speaker or be created visually.

11. Remember you’re addressing one person, so speak to the camera like you’re speaking to a friend. The aim of the video is to build a connection with one person who’s scrolling on you chosen social media platform. 

12. Be accessible to everyone. If you rely a lot on visuals, ensure you provide information for people with visual impairments. If a video has no sound or is just music, include a video description with any text so they are still able to get some value from the content you’ve created.

Bonus tip: Trends are great; use trending audio where you can. But always think brand first. If a trend doesn’t suit your brand, you don’t need to do it. Also, with trending audio, businesses often don’t have permission to use these, so you might not be able to use it (though you can find some great royalty free examples that are similar.)

Need help with your social media marketing?

Sarah is wearing brown glasses and a checked dress with cream top underneath. She has her head tilted to one side and is smiling to camera.

Sarah has been working in social media marketing since 2013 and joined the Social Firefly team in January 2022. Working with some of our biggest clients she makes content planning and creation look easy while delivering on some of our best performing strategies. Outside of work, she's a keen photographer, dedicated swimmer, a certified foodie, dog auntie and travel lover.