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There are so many ways to use video to promote your business on social media, but choosing the right strategy means knowing a little about the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of each platform.

Getting a high definition, glossy promotional video for your website or Youtube channel is just the start. Ask your video provider for resized and repurposed video assets to spread the message across Instagram, Vine or Twitter. Each social media platform has its own way of presenting video and you need to know a little more to maximise value.

Facebook
The world’s largest social network has gone from zero to lightspeed in video since it changed its native video playback. Facebook’s great advantage is autoplay, which means that if users pause on your video as they scroll through their newsfeed it will begin automatically. Youtube no longer has the upper hand in online video, in fact it is disadvantaged as Youtube links shared on Facebook must be clicked to play.

Facebook recently announced the incredible stat that there are some eight billion video views per day on the platform. Of course the company has gamed the system because three seconds counts as a view by its standards, but the way it is set up makes video almost instantaneous and simple to watch. Native video uploading supports many different formats from 3G2/3GP mobile video to WMV windows video, at 720p definition. And, if you’re ahead of the game, it has also added 360-degree video support for VR experiences.

Demographically speaking Facebook has a strong youth base among its 1.44 billion users – 82% of Facebook users are aged 18-29. But its strength is its widespread appeal and the Pew Internet Center report shows that 48% of users are aged 65+. Gender-wise Facebook is skewed towards women, 77% of users are adult females, with men some way behind at 66% (hardly a huge drop off). Ultimately, you can be pretty sure of hitting your target audience if your video message is well thought out.

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Twitter
Wise heads at Twitter realised that the best way to approach video was to offer it as a way to broadcast short news clips. Record 30 seconds of full-HD quality (actually 1920 x 1200 pixels) video direct to the Twitter mobile app, if you prefer. Record separate scenes and edit on the fly, or upload your pre-edited promotional video. Throw in the standard Twitter 140 character description and hashtags and you have a ready-made video hit for followers to share. Video plays automatically as followers scroll through their feed.

One high impact way to use Twitter video is to respond to tweets with video (you can do this with audio too). Think about it, a personal video message direct to your audience. Real time video posts are another great use of Twitter, broadcasting live from the latest industry event. Post, share and response times are excellent, assuming you have a smartphone that you can work with. If not then perhaps it’s time you upgraded.

Twitter doesn’t have the demographic reach of Facebook (who does?) but 23% of all internet users are on Twitter and 32% of those are adults aged 18-29. That drops to 6% of people aged 65+ but if your audience is on Twitter then posting video here is a win. A quarter of adult men and a fifth of women (21%) use Twitter. If your target audience is younger then you need to post video here. Interestingly, 27% of users are university graduates. Higher income earners tend to gather on Twitter.

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Google+
Google+ is seeing a resurgence. Internet’s Goliath has decided to revamp its social network, but that is not the only reason to post to a profile. Search is the big reason. If Google is the largest search engine in the world and Youtube is the second largest, then it makes firm sense to post to both the ‘tube and Google+. Videos can be uploaded straight to Youtube from a Google+ account and that takes some of the legwork out of multi-uploading. Full HD video is standard.

It is largely a US site in terms of use, with a report from Statistic Brain estimating 55% of Google+ users living in the US (and only 5% in the UK). Still the site attracts huge numbers: 22% of adult net users visit the site once a month. Use of Google+ is massively skewed towards men – 74% of users are male, 26% female – so if you want to reach a predominantly male audience, Google+ is an ideal place to start.

Instagram
Photo addicts, fashionistas and hip young things is the popular Instagram user image, but look at the figures – more than 300 million users who post 60 million pics every day. Young people definitely use Instagram, with 55% of users aged between 18-29. It surpasses both Facebook and Twitter with its proportion of younger users. Older adults do use Instagram, just not as much. Adults aged 50-64 and those aged 65+ only account for 15% of the total.

Uploading video from a smartphone is simple, but you must remember that Instagram only accepts a square format. Any pre-recorded and edited brand video must be cropped and rendered as square. Instagram will accept HD video as long as you stick to this rule (hint: crop your HD video using a tool like Streamclip, most go for 640 x 640 px, though apparently it will accept 1920 x 1920 px if you have an ultra HD/4K camera). There is one other restriction: a time limit of 15 seconds, so be creative and be concise. Take a look at how other brands make their 15 second Instagram videos look sharp and get their message across, like the simple time lapse shot from Starbucks below.

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Vine
Vine is where brands come to play. Ultra restrictive – six seconds in length – think ‘playful’ and ‘bitesize’. Many brands and ‘Vine stars’ (there a host of young online wannabes with thousands of followers) are hip to the use of music to make their Vines shareable, especially electronic beats. Everything from growling dubstep to minimal ambience is used, but the visual hook is often humour or quirkiness. Like GIFs the Vine repeats over and over, so raise a laugh and you’ll get more views.

Vine videos are also small in size (540 x 540 px) emphasising their origin as a shareable mobile format. To be honest that is where most Vines are made and watched. Uploading video to Vine from the phone’s photo library is possible, following an upgrade last year, and you can transfer pre-recorded video to your mobile device to create six second snippets. The company also helpfully provides a ‘snap to the beat’ edit function to help you create a perfect beat loop. Viners can now also include audio from other Vines in their own creations using the ‘make an audio remix’ tool. Lots to play with.

Is your audience on Vine? If you are looking at teenagers and young adults then Vine is a good bet. On the plus side, there are 200 million monthly active users and around 1.5 billion Vine plays each month. Only around 4% of UK mobile internet users accessed Vine in Q4 of 2014, so it is still US-centric, but numbers are growing. The beauty of Vine is the way regular posters create those quick WTF moments and, like a popular crisp snack, once you pop you can’t stop. Check out how big brands approach Vines and see for yourself.

For more information on video for social media and advice on creating video or other content for individual social networks, contact WeLove Media via email at hello [at] welovemedia.co or call us on 07747 467971.

Robin Fearon.