If you’re not creating videos for your social media channels, you’re missing out on engaging a huge portion of your audience. And let’s be real – online video has changed a lot in the last few years. It used to just be about YouTube and Facebook, but with the rise of Facebook Live, IGTV and Instagram stories with vertical video, we’re seeing a shift in how people consume videos.
We are seeing more and more video on social media – and with platforms like Facebook skewing the algorithm in favour of video, we’re unlikely to see this slow down.
And it’s not just social: 80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019, 90% of consumers say video can help them make buying decisions and mentioning the word ‘video’ in your email subject line increases open rates by 19%.
You might be thinking that it’s too difficult or too expensive for your business to create online videos, but it’s not the case. Here are a few sneaky cheats to help make it easier.


How to create awesome online videos

The golden rules of online video

The things you need to keep in mind with online video is that you need to create a short piece content for your audience, with a killer headline, and an ace thumbnail.
The rules in the posts around Youtube optimisation apply here – make sure your headline has a hook and is SEO optimised, and your thumbnail looks good big and small for mobiles.
Related Post: The Essential Tips for YouTube Optimization That You Need to Know

What will your video be about?

In terms of content, you want to create something for your audience. It doesn’t need to be a lecture or someone speaking to the camera, or an elaborate comedy skit: just something that your audience finds engaging, or it serves a specific business objective.
If you’re a hardware store, a 30-second how-to videos. If you work in news or entertainment, you could create short news bites about the latest trends in your industry. You could create a video which is five facts about a celebrity or industry leader in your field.
Trello create a How To videos as a simple screencast:

And videos don’t need to be shot in a studio on an expensive camera to be effective. In the end, your videos should serve a purpose, and sometimes being shot on a mobile gives that validity.
Here’s a video testimonial from Kate Toon’s SEO course, which was shot on a mobile phone. With a nice intro, outro, soundtrack underneath and title of the person speaking – it looks great and serves its objective of giving a face to the testimonials in her course. Doesn’t need to be shot in a studio to do the job.

Video Length

Keep in mind how long your videos are – you want your videos to be under three minutes (depending on the kind of video you’re making), and you ideally want to hook people in the first seven seconds.
However, as Buzzfeed’s Tasty has popularised, the 20 and 30-second video is the perfect size for short online videos, so keep in mind when you’re creating your videos.

However, more recently, we’re seeing more longer, informational-style videos on LinkedIn gaining traction – some up to 5 minutes.

Pretty as a picture

Images are really important for video. Your thumbnail (the image before the video plays) needs to look amazing.
The other thing you might want to consider is using an image slideshow instead of video. One of the popular techniques is creating a slideshow of images to music. This can be done by loading each image into video editing software like iTunes, Microsoft Movie Maker, YouTube Video Editor or even Powerpoint and exporting to video.
If you’re after free, creative commons images (which look awesome), check out my blog post outlining where to find these. Throw these in Canva (affiliate link) using the YouTube Thumbnail setting to create well-designed images for your title slides.
Buzzfeed showing us how it’s done right here – simple, clear, easy to see big and small:

Related Post: The Essential Free Graphic Design Resources for Social Media Managers

Sound it out loud

Many videos have a soundtrack associated with them, but not all do. If you’re looking to add a soundtrack, I’d recommend checking out newgrounds.com or freesound.org for free, creative commons sounds.
If you’re just after an image-based slideshow, YouTube editor is great for this and provides a creative commons music library which you can choose from.
Sometimes having a neat soundtrack can totally set the tone for a video:

Play it for me

If you don’t have access to a video camera or you’re not confident that you’re able to get the shots you want, there are also creative commons libraries for stock videos. There are plenty of sites from which to choose.
Pexels Video is a great starting point and if you’ve got a budget, check out the likes of Getty Images or Shutterstock. You can get a rundown of what more paid options are here.

Throw it together

Most computers have some free video editing software already. Microsoft Movie Maker on a PC and iMovie on a Mac.
YouTube also has a basic editor but doesn’t have all the options you would with software, especially if you want to add your own soundtrack. For basic editing of your youtube videos or uploading images, it works great.
But these days, there are plenty of online video creation tools, similar to how Canva works (affiliate link) in terms of being drop-and-drag with assets, but for video. Lumen5 is one of these – and it’s got a free option – but plenty others exist if you want to shop around. 

Ready to go for it?

With more and more of a focus for online video, it can feel really tough to create video. But it doesn’t need to be expensive. There are plenty of free tools and options out there for DIYers wanting to enter this new medium.

Originally written in Feb 2016, updated October 2018.

2021 Key Dates Calendar

Looking for a listing of key dates, fun events and holidays to help you plan your social media content for 2021? This dates listing covers everything from Australian public holidays, silly days, sporting events and award shows from January through til December 2021.

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Rachel Beaney is a writer and social media content specialist, helping businesses connect with their audiences.

She’s worked with local, national and global companies, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping businesses tell their stories with creative and data-driven solutions.

She is based in Sydney, Australia.

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