Have you noticed more and more videos being shared across social media channels lately? Video is becoming very important on social media. Consider these stats:
- Last year the amount of video from people and brands in Facebook’s newsfeed increased 3.6 times year-over-year (Nonprofit Hub 2015).
- Direct uploads of user videos to Facebook now exceed uploads to YouTube (Bullas 2015).
- 70 million photos and videos are sent daily on Instagram (Bullas 2015).
- YouTube has over a billion users—almost one-third of all people on the Internet—and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours of video on YouTube and generate billions of views (YouTube 2015).
Are you harnessing the power of video? There is overwhelming evidence for its effectiveness. And for fitness professionals, the content possibilities are endless.
Video lends itself well to the fitness industry, but before you start uploading, here are some best practices that will help optimize your content and engage your fans and followers.
Helpfulness Trumps Quality
You don’t need a fancy camera and tons of equipment to shoot a good video; your social media following is not going to demand television-quality footage. What users are looking for is something useful and worth watching. While you don’t want to post videos that make your brand look unprofessional, the video quality is not as important as the usefulness of the content.
Consider your target clients. What do they want to see? Do they struggle with time constraints and need quick workouts, or are they looking for in-depth tips on keeping good form? These are the types of questions you should ask yourself—and your clients—before you shoot any videos.
Smartphone Videography 101
Thanks to technology, we all have the power to shoot videos on our phones. While you don’t need cinema-quality videos to share your message, you certainly don’t want to post poor-quality ones. Here are some best practices to follow:
- Avoid the black vertical bars on the sides of your video by holding the device horizontally, not vertically.
- Take framing into account. Try filling the frame completely with your video subject, or put your subject slightly off-center to make the video more visually interesting.
- Don’t use the zoom feature on your phone; it can pixelate your video. Instead, use an accessory or just get closer to your subject.
- Pay attention to lighting. While you want to shoot in a brightly lit area, don’t point the camera directly into the light.
- Avoid shakiness by using a tripod (they’re available for smartphones).
- Be sure to focus on your subject. Before hitting Record, touch your screen so the camera knows what to focus on.
- If you are having trouble with the audio on your phone, purchase an external microphone; or use a camcorder adapter to plug in a microphone you already own.
- Prepare for your shoot, and make sure your props are ready to grab.
A Little Editing Can Go a Long Way
How many videos have you seen that start and end with someone touching the phone? This looks unprofessional, and it can easily be addressed with editing. You don’t need expensive software to edit videos. If you use Mac, iMovie for Mac is great for editing and is easy to use. If you use Windows, Windows Live Movie Maker is a free program worth trying. There are plenty of free programs out there for basic editing purposes.
There are also smartphone apps that allow for easy video-editing. Apple’s iMovie app for iPhone and iPad is a great one. Android also has some good options.
In addition to editing for quality, make sure you include your company logo, your name and your website URL somewhere in the video for branding purposes.
Optimize Your Videos
Each social media channel has different ways to optimize videos. Don’t just post to YouTube and share the link on other channels. Post directly to each channel to take advantage of its strengths.
Since YouTube is a Google product, you’ll want to make sure you optimize your videos by using keywords in your titles, descriptions and tags (use key phrases in tags as well). In your video descriptions, always add the URL to your website on the first line. You should also embed your best videos on your website; this will increase your video views and your search rankings.
The best practices discussed for YouTube will also apply to Vimeo. Keep in mind that Vimeo users look for artistic, high-quality videos. If you are shooting basic videos, you may want to stick to YouTube, as it will help with search engine optimization, or SEO, more than Vimeo will.
One of the best ways to optimize the reach of a video post on Facebook is to upload the video directly to Facebook. Just recently, Facebook changed its algorithms to reward users who post videos natively instead of via external link. Socialbakers was one of the first to report this change, stating that a Facebook page will see a 135% increase in organic reach, on average, when a video is posted instead of a photo (Socialbakers 2015).
You should also make use of Facebook’s call-to-action button: a link where fans can find out more, book an appointment or see more videos. Make sure you customize the title of the video, the headline for the call-to-action URL and the description of the link.
You have only 15 seconds for videos on Instagram, so make them good! Instagram users look for behind-the-scenes/inspirational–type content. No one wants to listen to a talking head for 15 seconds; Instagram viewers want action. The caption for the video is just as important, so give the video a good description and make sure you use hashtags! Hashtags are the best way to increase reach on Instagram. Don’t be afraid to start your own hashtag—it’s great from a branding standpoint.
For those who don’t know, Periscope is a live-streaming video app that works through Twitter. Setting up for Periscope is as simple as signing on to your Twitter account. Here’s the thing about Periscope, though: It’s live. No editing, no reshooting. Think of Periscope like a live broadcast that followers can tune into to watch. Periscope is great for hosting short how-to videos, interviews and Q&As, or just showing viewers the world through your eyes.
Some best practices when using Periscope:
- Shoot vertically.
- Come up with a compelling title.
- Turn sharing on for Twitter.
- Turn location tagging on so people in your area can discover you.
- Respond to comments live.
Keep Length in Mind
Another important factor to consider is length. You don’t want to bore your fans, but you also don’t want to leave them hanging. Most viewers decide within the first 10 seconds whether to continue watching a video. The longer your video is, the more drop-offs you get. Keep in mind that channels and content will dictate length; for example, YouTube and Vimeo videos can be longer than Facebook videos. Also, people will watch longer videos that are teaching them something valuable; videos that are more promotional need to be shorter.
Video length guidelines per channel:
- YouTube: Under 3 minutes
- Facebook: Under 1 minute
- Instagram: 5–15 seconds
- Twitter: 5–30 seconds
- Periscope: 1–3 minutes
Following these guidelines will get you started on the right path to making great videos that engage your audience and increase your online reach. Once you’ve jumped into video creation, pay attention to how your audience reacts. The key to successful marketing is to know your audience and learn from their cues. Get creative, try new things and pay attention to what works and what doesn’t.
Nonprofithub. 2015. 17 Stats You Should Know About Visual Content Marketing in 2015. Accessed Oct. 20, 2015.
Bullas, J. 2015. 33 Social Media Facts and Statistics You Should Know in 2015. Accessed Oct. 20, 2015.
YouTube. 2015. Statistics. Accessed Oct. 20, 2015.
Vimeo. 2015. Let’s do something amazing together. Accessed Oct. 20, 2015.
Socialbakers. 2015. Native Facebook Videos Get More Reach Than Any Other Type of Post. Accessed Oct. 21, 2015.