Anybody who spends even a small amount of time on social media will have realized that in the past couple of years video content on our feeds has exploded.
Our timelines are becoming increasingly dominated by videos posted by friends, family, brands, news organizations, vloggers, companies, museums, magazines, galleries…….in short, anyone and everyone.
A quick look at these stats shows just how insatiable our appetite for video content has become. And it’s only going to get bigger.
So, it’s clear that for those looking to communicate their research and engage with the public, video can be an immensely powerful tool. The most important thing to focus on is creating quality content that does justice to your work. But there is another critical factor to consider if you want to maximize your engagement…platform customization.
It is possible to recycle content between social media platforms but each platform is unique, attracting users looking for different experiences, so adopting a one-size-fits-all approach is likely to limit the reach and impact of your content.
In future blogs I’ll drill down into the detail of each platform but for now here are some brief guidelines to consider when devising your video content.
Facebook is now part of the old guard when it comes to social media but it’s still innovating and growing, with over 1.5 billion users worldwide. And Mark Zuckerberg sees video as its future, stating in 2014 that ‘in five years time most of Facebook will be video’.
- Most Popular Videos: Facebook users tend to engage with short, innovative, fun videos (Facebook Live video streaming works differently and early signs suggest that live video keeps audiences engaged for longer periods of time but I’ll explore this in more detail in a future post).
- NB: Most videos are viewed without sound at first, so using subtitles or text to get your message across is crucial.
- Tips: Always upload videos natively (i.e. don’t just add a link to a YouTube video) and use keywords to help reach the right audience.
Twitter has been going through a period of stagnation but with 100 million daily active users it’s clearly not yet dead as a platform. And it’s particularly popular with the academic and research communities.
- Most Popular Videos: GIFs, Vines and teaser videos, i.e. short bite-sized content.
- NB: Like FB videos Twitter also auto plays without sound, so make sure that your videos don’t rely on audio to make sense.
- Tips: Use clear CTA’s (call to action) in the copy of the Tweet. If the video is a teaser include a link to the master video being hosted elsewhere. The video should act as a conversation sparker, so make sure you engage with any comments promptly.
Instagram is a highly visual platform, made popular by giving users the power to enhance their photos using filters and then posting them for all to see and engage with. Photos still drive the most engagement on the platform but videos are popular too.
- Most Popular Video: Short + visually driven. Teasers and behind-the-scenes content works well.
- NB: Again, videos autoplay without sound, so focus on the pictures and use subtitles and text when necessary.
- Tips: Links do not work within copy, only in the profile description.
Researchers and academics haven’t yet started using Snapchat much as a platform to communicate their work and engage with the public. It’s still seen by many as a space where teens share risqué photos of themselves but it’s come on a long way since it started out and with 45% of its users between the ages of 18 and 24 years old, if that’s a demographic you want to target then it’s worth exploring as a platform.
- Most Popular Video: Timely, in the moment, fun and light-hearted.
- NB: Use vertical video (film with your phone upright as opposed to on its side). Videos need to be made up from 10 second segments and last 24 hours.
- Tips: Be playful. Embrace humour and make the most of its unique elements, like the filters.
YouTube celebrated its 10th birthday last year and in that time it’s gone from a platform dominated by users home videos to a phenomenally successful site where everyone from universities to museums and political parties have channels to upload video content.
- Most Popular Video: unlike other social media platforms YouTube encourages far longer viewing times. Educational content, such as how-to videos work really well on here.
- NB: Keywords and tagging are essential if you want to make your content appear in people’s searches.
- Tips: Host longer content on here that can then be broken down into teasers and chunks and promoted separately via your other social media channels, linking back to YouTube.
Customisation doesn't mean that you have to create totally original content for each platform. All it means is that when it comes to creating content you should be thinking ahead of time about how it can be broken up and customised for different audiences on social media.
Chopping up longer form videos into bite-sized pieces also has the additional advantage of giving you even more content to promote on social media, keeping your accounts fresh and encouraging greater engagement over time. So it's a win-win!
Peter Barker runs Orinoco Communications, a digital communications company specialising in helping research groups from science, the social sciences and the humanities to bring their research alive and engage with the public.