Social media insights: how to make the best use of video

In the second of her specialist columns looking at how best to implement social media in to your business, Bernadette Costello offers her top tips on how to use video.


Video is set to make up to 69% of all internet traffic by 2017* and it’s not surprising to hear this when the world watches over 100 hours of video on YouTube every minute (* Cisco May 2013).

Further to this, people now spend half their online time watching videos on their mobile phones and tablets, and this is only set to grow.

If produced professionally and placed on the right online channels, your video can act as a window-shopping experience for anyone looking to do business with you, or buy your product or service.

Videos are versatile both as a business tool and a great piece of content for social media. And if it’s highly entertaining your video will be shared with friends and colleagues.

Here are just some of the ways you can use and distribute your video:

·         YouTube and Vimeo

·         Facebook

·         Your website

·         Link to it from Twitter

·         Build a database of contacts and ask them to RT the link on Twitter

·         Ask your Facebook fans to like and share your video

·         Share it with your LinkedIn contacts and groups you’re in

·         Link to it on Google Plus

·         Embed it in your blog

·         Embed it in a press release

·         Embed it in a marketing email to your customers

·         Show on a TV screen in your head office reception

·         You can also use Instagram and Vine to upload videos

·         And you can impress people in a sales meeting or staff conference

If your video is very low quality it’s less likely to attract views from your target audience. And if it’s too long and doesn’t get to the point until nine minutes in then your audience is likely to switch off.

Wistia, a video hosting service conducted a study, which found that 30-second videos are viewed 85% of the way through whereas two minute to 10-minute videos were turned off at the half-way point.

Kevin Lim from corporate film-makers Invisible Artists says: “Your content should be operating in the 30 to 90-second space at most. Anything more and brands are spending more for less engagement.”

Know your audience

A trawl on YouTube brings up many videos about wine that seem all too often to be a lesson in soil or a long conversation about Orange County between two people looking very uncomfortable in front of the camera for a painstaking 10 minutes.

The producer behind the product is often missed out in video content and therefore the story and heritage of the brand is lost amid cheap library music and low quality footage that looks as if it was shot in the 1970s.  

There are also several basic wine tutorials on YouTube with no visuals to evoke your imagination. Finally there’s the lady (maybe from New York) who’s “here to teach you about ‘wine geek speak’, such as how to pronounce hard-to-pronounce French vino vocab that us wine lovers converse with every day, such as wine soom-ool-ee-yaze. Now a soom-ool-ee-yay is a term used for someone called a wine waiter. This soom-ool-ee-yay comes to your table and…”

That said, top marks to the lady for getting her business right out there by providing helpful information. She’s invented herself as a wine personality and is cheerful enough so her content is definitely appealing to a certain audience.

Not all about quality

There are exceptions to the rule when I say “low quality” because even if it’s a low budget film, you can often create a very entertaining story.

There’s a lovely two-minute video here of a 25-year-old winemaker from Oregon. Remy Drabkin doesn’t look like a typical winemaker, which is the first reason why you might watch this film. She then tells a compelling story about herself and why she’s growing grapes not usually found in Oregon – Sangiovese, Barbera and Lagrein. Did I want to watch this? Yes I did and I also didn’t mind that it’s filmed in a very artisan, simple style because it’s from the heart and it is a good story. It moves the viewer to admire her individualism and it’s short enough to watch to the very end.

Planning your video

So if you’re planning an online video as part of a wider marketing strategy, define exactly who your target audience is and pitch the content of the video at them.

Keep it less than two minutes if you can and try to make an immediate impression. If that means using the winemaker, distiller or brewer to tell the story then you won’t need a presenter.

Instead, tell your videographer to take some fantastic footage to accompany the producer’s heartwarming story. Your video editor will be able to use this footage for cutaways and visuals as the narrative progresses.

Award-winning videographer-director Archie Brooksbank specialises in short videos for the web. When I work with him I give him a list of everything that has to shot and mentioned, and the messages we need to get across, and we then create a storyboard and script.

If we use a presenter or the founder of the brand, we shoot lots of interesting footage and this ensures we have enough cutaways to guide viewers through the storyline and the messages to get across.

At the start of the film, Brooksbank creates a short snapshot intro of what’s to come – even if the total length of the video is only a couple of minutes’ long.

“You’re teasing the audience and if they like what they see in these first few seconds they’ll stay tuned to find out more,” says Brooksbank.

Making that first impression

At Invisible Artists, which has recently opened a film studio in London after launching in Sydney last year, they also believe in videos that make an impression from the start.

“The best videos to enhance your social media presence are engaging, positive and humorous videos that have a clear narrative. Anything with a product benefit and price makes it too easy for the audience to tune out as it is too similar to an ad.

“Whenever we meet a new client eager to dip their toes into the content pool for the first time, we like to sit down for a coffee and play this video,” says Lim, “which lays down some core principles that we think goes to making great content.”

Five tips for success

So if you’re wondering how it should be done then here are five tips to making effective video content for your website, social media or other platform:

1. Make your first 15-20 seconds count

Content stays online and is viewed on mobiles, tablets and computer screens. Rather than use up the first 5-10 seconds with a logo, open with a hook to keep your audience’s attention.

2. Keep your video short

How long are you prepared to watch videos yourself on your laptop, mobile or tablet? Think about people’s attention spans. Shorter videos are more engaging than longer ones.

3. Who will your characters be & how will they tell your story?

Each character in your film has to have a purpose to propel the narrative. Whether you’re using a brand manager, a customer, a brand advocate, the drinks producer or the managing director of the business, whatever they say must support the aim of your content in the video

4. Limit your key messages

Key messages are great but you can have too many and if you’re aiming for a two-minute film you’ve only got time for about four messages. Great visuals and cutaways will help get your message across so make your story visually entertaining. Beware of too many over-exaggerated key messages as there is a limit to how much information your audience can absorb.

5. Humour and evoking sentiment work best

Finally, the last word from Lim at Invisible Artists: “A Nielsen study conducted between 2006 and 2011 during the most recession heavy years in the United States showed that humour and sentimental narrative resonated best, regardless of economy or year. What didn’t resonate was content focused on product benefits or price even during the recession. As famed screenwriting teacher Robert McKee says: “In comedy, laughter settles all arguments.”

By Bernadette Costello

Costello Media (

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