Social media is 70% video content nowadays, and that percentage will only increase as platforms enable users to overlay animations, music, or graphics on their static photos or carousels as well.
In a video-first world, marketers must learn the art of producing, editing, and publishing quality bite-sized videos.
It gets easier if you cautiously fulfill these basic expectations:
Catchy hooks in the first 5 mins.
A story that’s relevant to the audience
Quick pointers laid out in 1, 2, 3-step format
Fast frequent angle or cuts to retain audience attention
Clean background & HD visuals
Clearly audible narration
Synchronized music & audio effects
Singular CTA at the end
We’ll delve into why each of the pointers is important, along with some other considerations you can take when you’re working.
It can all seem too daunting at first, especially for those of us who’ve mostly dealt with static graphics or photography-based assignments.
But time & again, creators have proven that you can achieve great results with just an iPhone or any other decent mobile camera, a smart background setup, and bloody good content – all from the comfort your bedroom.
So its just a matter of experimenting & allowing yourself to suck for the first 100 videos or so. As time passes by, you will automatically become better by looking at your own work & learning from the mistakes or gaps.
A helpful way is to follow other content creators in your niche, slow down their videos, and dissect each beat or frame to see what exactly they’re doing to keep you hooked from start to end.
Before we go into some of the must-know information about video creation, let’s have a look at some of the online tools that one can use to enhance the quality of their piece.
It also works as a basic video editor but you have to make do with the watermark which is a big no-no on platforms like Instagram – the algorithm doesn’t like videos with watermarks from TikTok or any other platform.
Not to mention, there are file size & time limitations on the subtitle use, etc. so I wouldn’t rely on it for end-to-end editing unless I had the budget to subscribe for its paid plan (~ ₹300 per month).
If you need live action clips to tell your story but can’t afford a video shoot, stock videos are the next best option.
These websites have stunning HD or 4K clips for all sorts of situations & industries, and the best part is that they’re all built for public submissions, so you can use them without worrying about copyright strikes or violations.
Just make sure you credit the artist properly if the website is asking you to.
If you’re shooting explainer Reels, and don’t want to stick to a plain white wall background, you can “green screen” it out with this free background remover.
Then replace it with a beach, forest, classroom, office, or any other setting of your choice.
There’s also a popular alternative called “Unscreen” but it has worse time limit restrictions for the paid version, so BgRem is still my go-to choice (which offers good resolution & output if you log in).
Having trouble with the file format or resolution?
This video convertor can help you in such technical situations. Its hosted on the 123Apps site, which, by the way, is a goldmine of video, audio, PDF, and other single-purpose utility functions.
So which of these micro-tools do you think will you use the most?
Let me know in the comments…
Advice for Video Creators
Now that I’ve given you the resources to work with video regardless of which stage you’re at in the learning process, its time to look at some of the basic data you should know before beginning your journey.
Know the Upload Sizes
Without a channel to host & promote your video, it won’t reach the right people.
Each social platform has its own requirement when it comes to video content.
Knowing them can help you avoid last-minute upload failures, pixelation (blurring), inconsistencies in the quality as some sites may downgrade the quality if you go too overboard with the exports.
Check out this table to understand each site’s recommended specifications that work best for standard uploads (updated for 2022).
1920*1080px for vertical Reels [9:16] 800*418px [1.91:1] for horizontal 90 secs. for Reels | 60 mins. for video (file size: 3.6GB) 30 FPS (frames per second)
1920 x 1080 (1080p), 2560 x 1440 (2K) Aspect Ratio 16:9 12 hours max. (128GB) Video codec: H.264, MP4 file AAC audio output 29.97 FPS
1080×1920px Aspect ratio: 9:16 10 mins. max duration (file size: 287.6MB) MP4 file format
Work on your Hook
If people don’t find something juicy in the first 5 secs. of your video, they’ll swipe/skip ahead to the next piece of content on their never-ending social feed.
Nobody’s waiting for reveals that come a bit later. So before you move into post-production, simply re-watch the first 2 secs. of your video, and ask yourself, “Where is the hook in this intro? Why would people continue watching this video or read my post?”
If you can’t find an answer, rework it while you’re still shooting itself. This hook can be in the form of:
A how-to headline (e.g. Here’s how you can x5 your writing speed)
Asking a question (e.g. Do you often lose motivation to exercise?)
Shocking update (e.g. This celebrity has just passed away!!)
A weird expression
In other words, have something that opens a mental loop inside the audience’s brain, forcing them to find out the resolution or details about the newly introduced information.
Cut fast & often
Simply having a hook isn’t enough. With the attention span dwindling, retaining the audience till the last frame is harder than ever. People get bored quickly nowadays.
So when you’re making videos, don’t shoot the same angle at length. Make fast cuts every 3-4 seconds, and by cuts I mean, change the angle, or if you’ve shot from one angle, cut the clip & enlarge/reduce sizes of each part (zoom in/zoom out) to give a sense of change in perspective.
You could also add real clips, photo slideshows, or vector animations to actually show what you’re talking about.
Whatever you do, don’t drag the same frame or angle for more than 10-15 secs.
Here’s an example of how I used quick cuts to keep my audience invested in this Reel.
Make the whole piece snackable – no bulky long takes unless you’re done a long-form webinar where the audience intention to learn is clear & you’d rather go slow so that beginners don’t loose track of what you’re saying.
Assume you’re making a tweet thread. Every 5 secs. or 5 lines, have a checkpoint. Ask yourself, “Why would people keep going?”
I’ve got one more useful tip on this front.
If you go to your YouTube or Facebook analytics, you can actually see the drop-off points where your audience thought it’d be OK to abandon the video. I recommend going to these points & seeing what you could’ve done to keep them incentivized for moving ahead.
Most people use their mobiles heavily during commute hours, but because of crowded trains/buses in India, many of these users don’t like to use earphones while traveling, so they have no or little audio input when viewing the content on their phone.
This means that if you have anyone speaking or narrating in your videos, PLEASE include embedded subtitles. If you don’t, they’re not going to understand your hook & scroll right past your content no matter how good it is.
I used to visit Kapwing for generating the subs on my videos but they started pasting their watermark all over it so they lost my vote. Now I use Instagram’s native captioning feature while editing my Reels inside the app ad-hoc.
I’ve found that to be faster, more reliable in terms of transcription from the audio, and better suited for the IG vertical format.
End with a Singular CTA
After watching this clip, what is the most important action you want the user to take? This is your “Call-To-Action.”
Most videos end with thousands of CTAs, asking people to like, subscribe, share, and comment on the post – which feels lazy & overdone (YouTubers are often mocked for it).
So pick your highest priority & drill it down. It can be:
Head over to my website to sign up for the full course
Subscribe to my channel to get the next part of this series
Leave a comment to let me know which chips flavor you prefer
Share this with peerd who could use some writing advice
YouTube also has an option to add end cards to your video, which recommends similar pieces from your channel that viewers can keep watching ahead. So do make use of that feature to keep your audience coming back for more for as long as they can.
Invest in equipment & BG setup
Yes, your audience is primarily here for your content, but it doesn’t hurt to have good quality equipment as well as a nicely decorated background that suits your niche.
Here’s a checklist of items that you can aim to grab over time.