This post was originally published on the HootSuite blog. HootSuite is a social relationship platform. 


Social media and storytelling are a match made for marketers. As consumers continue to flock to social networks, reverting to the origins of storytelling may be the best way for brands to connect. But unlike in the broadcast era, marketers need to approach content creation with shareability (and the psychology of sharing) in mind.

Visual storytelling has proven to be the best means for inciting content sharing on social media and a new type of content, social video, is quickly becoming the most effective tool for businesses across the globe.

As social video continues its exponential growth, it will become more and more important for brands to hone in on what makes their online videos successful. These videos are very different from a commercials and should be approached as such. With that in mind, here are 10 tips brands should follow while creating social video.

1) Design it to be shareable at the outset

You need to be able to answer the question, why will people share this video.

2) Use the power of storytelling

Use a beginning, a middle and an end. Make sure there’s conflict. Think about who the hero is in that story. What’s the plot, what’s the setting?

3) Use proven archetypes and story structure

There is a lot of research that illustrates that people are hardwired to respond to the same types of stories with familiar character archetypes. (see Joseph Campbell’s “A Hero’s Journey”).

3) Shorter is better (usually)

Kony 2012 is a very good 30-minute video but for the most part, shorter is better.  I have made this mistake many times. I get into the story we are creating and what was supposed to be a 1-minute video morphs into 3-minute video. Be disciplined and get to the core of what your message is.

4) Always start strong

Wistia has collected data that illustrates how the first 30 seconds of a social video is what matters. If you can get people hooked in those 30 seconds they’ll stick around.

Wistia Video Length Chart 10 tips for social video success

Graph illustrating video drop-off by Wistia. The red line represents a 30-second video, while the blue represents a 90-second video.

6) Make the customer the hero, instead of your brand
You can play the role of the mentor, but the really powerful stories that get shared are ones where the customer sees themselves reflected back in the story.

7) Remember search

Think about the meta data and the descriptions of your content. Don’t ignore SEO. Hint: YouTube is a huge search engine.

8) Focus on evergreen content

If you’re going to spend lots of time, money and effort on creating a video, make sure that the content is going to have a long shelf life.

9) Don’t forget the music

If you watch HootSuite’s product release videos. you’ll notice we have a certain sound in terms of the type of music we use. It’s not the typical sound you’ll hear on corporate videos; most of it is indie rock bands, and largely bands from Vancouver (where we are based – we want to support local talent). They are all earworms, catchy songs that you want to listen to again and again.

10) Distribution strategy is critical

You need to think about how you’re going to get this video out into the world with a converged media plan that includes a paid, owned and earned. This is such a critical point I think it needs some further explanation. More to come in a future blog post.

Image credit: THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images