3 Keys to Social Video: How to Get Viewers, Keep Them Watching, and Prompt Engagement

3 Keys to Social Video: how to get viewers, keep them watching, and prompt engagement

Videos are a constant presence in social feeds these days. There are some that get noticed and viewed by millions of people, while others are lost in all the noise. We have a few simple tricks to help your videos stand out, keep viewers watching to the end, and engaging afterwards!

Make your video stand out!

It may sound obvious but as people scroll down news feeds, videos are easy to miss. Make sure yours is catching the eye of potential viewers:

The Pocket Guide to Social Video

Start strong. Our eyes are drawn to moving images. Videos that start with a moving segment instead of a still are likely to grab attention in an age of auto-play.

Front load your story by opening with your best shot. Social videos are short, so you can’t afford to build a video up in a traditional sense. Grab the viewer with a strong title or statement to tell them straight up why they should care.

Imagine yourself running into a room to tell you friends that aliens have landed. You wouldn’t start by saying, “I was driving down the road, listening to the radio and minding my own business, when suddenly the aliens landed.” You would run in and scream, “HEY – ALIENS HAVE LANDED!”

Here are two approaches to coverage of a recent snow storm in New York:

Bad opening: starts with a still shot, not very engaging

Good opening: opens with “wow” shot of train in the snow, instantly attention-catching

Keep them watching!

Once you have grabbed the viewers attention, you need to keep it. There are many distractions on social and viewers are fickle. If they lose interest, they’ll tune out before the end.

To achieve this, you must keep the story flowing with nice rhythm and pace. You might edit to the beat of the music, but don’t be afraid to change pacing to keep the viewer on the hook.

Surprise the viewer by speeding things up, or breaking the story apart with different visual elements, like a soundbite, quote, or tweet. The text is crucial here – make sure not to overwhelm with too much text in one block. It’s better to space them out and time the text to the rhythm of your story (learn more about best use of text here).

Keep them watching: this punchy example is constantly calling for attention

Lose your audience: this remake of the above sucks the air out of its strengths, leaving it dry and dull

Leave a lasting impression!

You’ve hooked your viewer and engaged them with your story. They’ve stuck around to watch your entire piece, now you need to end with bang to leave them with a lasting, motivating impression of your video. It’s time to drive home why they care.

If your story is built around a list, you might end with a summary list. If your video is built on an opening statement (such as: Ten Best Places to Visit), you might end with a question (Which is your favorite? What great place is missing from this list? Where do you want to go first?) This prompts viewers to respond, either directly through comments or by posing their answer to their own network when sharing your piece.

Other CTAs to consider are asking users to engage through reactions or even a poll on your page. For example, a news outlet might ask, “Is new environmental regulation a good thing? Thumbs Up or Angry Face to tell us what you think!”

If you don’t want to directly provoke emotions with your CTA, a simple “SHARE” or “READ MORE” can also effectively motivate viewers who enjoyed your piece.

Check out these examples for two possible endings to a video:

Leave an impression: this clip ends with a quick review of the piece and a CTA to learn more at a website, motivating viewers to action

Leave them yawning: here, a piece covering the same subject simply fades out, failing to drive home a final impression or even a CTA

It’s not always easy to get it absolutely right, but don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles and formats. Engage your colleagues for feedback and keep an eye on what others are doing online for inspiration. Above all, pay attention to what your audience responds to, and give them what they want!


The Pocket Guide to Social Video

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