5 steps to increase engagement on your social media videos

5 easy steps to maximise your engagement online with video.

girl sat in a chair with a microphone pver her head

So you've just invested time, money and work into your video production and the video is ready to be shared online.

What do you do? Upload it to YouTube and call it a day? Not quite.

Like most things in marketing, big results come from the accumulation of many small tasks.

In this post we'll explore 5 simple steps you can take to increase engagement on your social media videos.

1. Optimise content for the platform

People often lump different platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram into the category “Social Media”. 

We all do it. I do it, you do it - and whilst it works great for broad strokes, such as the title of this blog post, it doesn't work very well when it comes to sharing content online. 

Because whilst they are all “Social Media”, they’re also very different. That’s why you need to optimise your content to the platform you're posting on. 

But what do I mean by optimise content?

Optimising content, also known as Social Media Optimisation (SMO), refers to tailoring your content to each platform's unique quirks. 

These relate to both the type of content you share, and the format in which you share it.

For Instagram this means uploading vertical video for IG Stories and IGTV, whereas Facebook favours square video. 

Facebook also allows you to upload closed captions to your videos, whereas Instagram and Twitter do not. In which case you have to burn in your subtitles into the video (more on closed captions later). 

Each platform is different, you need to tailor your content for each one.

The important thing to remember is that each platform is different, so you need to tailor your content for each one. 

2. Post Natively

Native posting is one of the best ways to increase engagement online with video if you aren’t already doing it. 

Back in 2012 you may have gotten away with uploading your video to YouTube and posting a link to Facebook and Twitter. But not anymore, it’s 2020 and things have changed a lot around here. 

Uploading video natively to each platform will dramatically increase the engagement on your videos

The fundamental reason for this is that each platform (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.) wants to keep you on their platform. As a consequence, the algorithms that decide what posts to rank highly will favour posts that feature native content, and will show them above posts linking away from their platform. 

In fact, in a study by Quintly they found that Facebook native videos receive 530% more comments compared to YouTube video links

Facebook native videos recieve 530% more comments compared to YouTube video links.

Take the Crocodiles of the World video below. They uploaded their Tomistoma video natively to Facebook and received over 7,000 views, 150+ likes and 50+ shares. 

Young Tomistoma Data Collection

As the first zoo in the UK to breed Tomistoma we're really proud to be working with these special little crocs. Here's a look behind the scenes at how we monitor their growth and learn vital info about this little-known breed. #crocconservation #tomistoma

Posted by Crocodiles of the World on Thursday, 8 August 2019

By comparison, another post by Crocodiles of the World where they linked to a video on YouTube received less than half the number of likes and less than 10 shares. 

Native posting also allows you to access tools such as autoplay as well as share buttons and suggested videos within the viewer. 

Read our post Master Video Autoplay to learn more about how you can use video autoplay to increase engagement.

3. Upload Closed Captions

Captions are important for engagement for a number of reasons. Firstly, over 5% of the world's population have hearing loss and it’s important to make sure that your video content is accessible to everyone.

But what are closed captions?

Captions are a form of subtitles. Subtitles are used to depict what’s being spoken as written text on-screen. 

Captions come in two forms, open or closed. The difference is that closed captions (CC) can be turned off by the viewer with the click of a button, while open captions are baked-in the video and cannot be turned off. 

Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Linkedin all support closed captions. Whilst Twitter and Instagram do not. 

Above is our Corporate Showreel hosted on Vimeo. On the right side of the progress bar you can see a button with labeled CC. That button gives the viewer the option to turn closed captions on and off. 

Closed captions also allow you to share your content in many different languages, reaching more people and increasing engagement. 

The second reason why closed captions are great for increasing engagement on your videos is thanks to autoplay, the feature mentioned above when uploading natively to platforms. 

When videos autoplay in the feed, they play silently. Captions will automatically be shown allowing viewers to watch your videos in silence directly in their feed.  But do people really watch videos in silence?

A recent study by Mic found that a staggering 85% of their Facebook video views are in silence. The reason as to why the percentage is so high is because a large number of people use Facebook in situations where they can’t listen to the audio: buses, offices, and doctors surgeries to name a few.

If you don’t optimise your videos to be watched silently with closed captions then you are missing out on a large portion of users and damaging your engagement.

We did a whole blog post on the benefits of using closed captions to increase engagement.

4. On-Brand Thumbnails

Thumbnails are often overlooked. You’ve put in the hard work, all you want to do is post your videos and reap the rewards. But, if your video doesn’t entice anyone to click on it, are they likely to watch it?

Thumbnails can make the difference between a click, and a scroll. 

But what are thumbnails?

Thumbnails are the still images that show before a video is clicked. They appear on feeds, on websites, in blog posts (such as this) - anywhere where you can watch a video. 

You need to think of them as movie posters, they need to be visually appealing and attract your attention.

All major platforms, except for Twitter, allow you to upload or set custom thumbnails. If left blank, the platform will pick a random frame in your video and set that as the thumbnail. 

It’s very unlikely that that random frame will be movie poster quality. If anything, it'll detract people from your video rather than attract.

Custom thumbnails allow you to create a cohesive look for your videos, and make people instantly recognise a video as yours. 

In fact, 90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails. 

Speaking of YouTube, if you’re in need of thumbnail inspiration, have an explore on YouTube You’ll find great examples of custom thumbnails for a variety of different styles of videos (and, also likely some bad examples).

5. Call to action!

Call to actions are the best way to start a discussion and increase engagement on your videos. 

They don’t always have to be “Like and share” or “Visit our website” - they can instead be questions. 

“How many teeth do you think Nile Crocodiles have?” or “What’s the first thing you do when you’re on holiday?”

Questions spark discussion and allow not just viewers to engage with you, but for you to follow up and engage with your viewers. The more you directly engage with your customers the more they will engage with you. 

Engagement is a feedback loop, both positive and negative.

Engagement is a feedback loop, both positive and negative. The more you engage, the better results you’ll see. The less you engage, the harder it will be for your business to grow a community of dedicated fans.

Last Updated:
July 2020
Matt Eastland-Jones
Matt Eastland-Jones
Director & Founder of Story Ninety-Four
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