Best Practices for High-Performing Video Ads on Social Media

Success on Meta, LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok

Like on smartphone

No matter if you're a marketing expert looking to sharpen your ad buying techniques or a small business owner venturing into paid social media advertising for the first time, this guide promises to be your north star when it comes to video advertising on social.

Together, we'll dive deep into effective strategies, offering practical advice to engage your audience and optimize the performance of your video ads across platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and TikTok.

Along the way, we also asked Nina Dans, Director of Paid Social at Socium Media, a performance digital marketing agency, to give insight into their top strategies for advertising with video on social media.

The essence of video advertising is much more than just content creation—it's about telling a story to spark genuine connections, fuel engagement, drive conversions, and catapult your brand toward growth. Let's jump right in!

Our Top Tips For Creating Video Ads That Win on Social Media

What is the Perfect Video for Social Media?

The perfect video is different for each business. But with the following steps and best practices, you can greatly increase the odds of success by making sure the video you create is aligned with your audiences needs and desires.

Nina Dans at Socium Media agrees, "The perfect social media video doesn't exist. No two audiences are alike. Finding the perfect video formula will take lots of testing, and things can change overnight."

1. Understand Your Audience

Understanding your audience is the foundation of any successful video advertising campaign on social media. Each platform, be it Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, or YouTube, is brimming with users from diverse backgrounds, each with their unique interests, needs, and challenges. So before creating your video ad, it's crucial to invest time in researching and segmenting your target audience.

Start by determining who your ideal customer is. This could be based on descriptive information like job titles, industries, skills, or even the size of the companies they work for. You can also factor in demographic information like age, gender, and education level. There are advanced search and filtering options offered on each social media platform that can help you target your ideal customer based on these descriptive and demographic characteristics.

Pro Tip: Create personas for each type of customer that represent your ideal customer. If you’re selling a nutrition bar, you could create the persona “Kyle the Weekend Warrior” and think about what kind of interests and descriptions represent that persona.

Next, aim to understand your target’s professional pain points (What do they need help with? What problems do they need to solve?)aspirations (What are their ultimate goals? Dreams?), and the kind of content they engage with (What type of content would get them to stop scrolling?). 

Explore popular topics and trends within your target industry by following relevant hashtags, joining industry groups, or keeping an eye on thought leaders.

When you have a clear understanding of your audience, you can craft a message that resonates. Tailor your video's storyline, tone, and visual elements to appeal to their sensibilities. Make sure the content is relevant, relatable, and addresses their needs or challenges. By doing so, your video ad will not just capture their attention but also encourage engagement and drive action.

Takeaways: 

  • Understand and segment your audience based on various factors like job titles, industries, skills, location, etc.
  • Analyze your target’s professional challenges, aspirations, and content preferences.
  • Use this understanding to create a video ad that resonates with audience needs and encourages engagement.

2. Create a Clear Message

A clear message is vital when crafting a social media video ad. It’s the core idea you want your audience to remember and act upon after watching your ad. The clearer your message, the more likely it is that your viewers will understand and respond to your call to action (CTA).

To develop a clear message, first identify the primary purpose of your ad. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, promote a product, or drive sign-ups for an event? Once you have defined your goal, everything in your ad, from the script to the visuals, should be designed to support and enhance this main message.

Remember, you have a short window to engage your viewers, typically just a few seconds. Make sure your core message is conveyed early and succinctly in your ad. Avoid industry jargon and keep your language simple, relatable, and direct.

Visual elements and storytelling can also play a vital role in conveying your message. For instance, showing a product in action can be more impactful than merely talking about its features. The right visuals can quickly convey complex ideas, evoke emotions, and add depth to your message, all while making your ad more engaging.

Finally, ensure that your call-to-action aligns with your core message. If your message is about the benefits of a product, your call-to-action could be a prompt to purchase or learn more about the product. By maintaining consistency between your message and your call-to-action, you can create a strong, coherent ad that drives the viewer towards the desired action.

Takeaways:

  • Establish a clear, succinct message that aligns with the primary purpose of your ad.
  • Leverage simple language, visuals, and storytelling to enhance and convey your core message effectively.
  • Ensure your call-to-action is consistent with your message and drives viewers towards the intended action.

3. Brand Consistency

Consistency in branding across your social media video ads is an essential strategy for enhancing brand recognition and trust. Consistency means ensuring that all elements of your video ads - like colors, fonts, logos, messaging tone, and even the style of visuals - align with your brand's identity.

Why is this important?

Consistent branding helps create a coherent and memorable brand image in the minds of your audience. It contributes to a sense of familiarity, which in turn leads to increased trust and loyalty. When viewers see similar styles, colors, or messaging across your video ads, they can instantly recognize it as belonging to your brand, even before they see your logo or brand name.

A few ways to ensure branding consistency across your video ads include:

  1. Visual Consistency: Use the same color palette, fonts, and logos across all your videos.
  1. Messaging Consistency: Keep your tone of voice and messaging style consistent. If your brand is friendly and informal, ensure your video content reflects that.
  1. Consistent Use of Logos and Taglines: Make sure your logo and tagline are consistently placed in a similar spot in every video ad. Check out our handy guide on where to place your brand's logo on different video platforms for more details!
  1. Consistent Storytelling: The way you tell stories in your video ads should also align with your brand identity.

By maintaining consistency in your branding across all video ads, you reinforce your brand identity every time a viewer interacts with one of your ads. Over time, this can significantly boost your brand recall, recognition, and loyalty, contributing to long-term growth and success.

Takeaways:

  • Consistency in branding elements like colors, fonts, logos, and messaging tone across video ads enhances brand recognition and trust.
  • A coherent and familiar brand image boosts viewer trust and loyalty, facilitating instant brand recognition.
  • Maintaining branding consistency, including visual elements, messaging, logo placement, and storytelling, can significantly enhance brand recall and loyalty and lead to long-term growth.

4. Align with your Sales Funnel

The sales funnel is the model illustrating the journey that a customer takes from the first interaction with your brand to the final purchase and beyond. A well structured sales funnel is an integral aspect of any marketing strategy. Creating social media video ads that align with each stage of the sales funnel is critical for effectively guiding potential customers towards conversion.

Most social media platforms allow you to choose the campaign objective that best aligns with the different stages of the sales funnel. These objectives can range from increasing brand awareness, driving engagement, promoting app installs, to ultimately pushing for conversions or sales. By selecting the appropriate objective for your video ad campaign, you're essentially targeting the right audience at the right time in their purchasing journey. This allows for more efficient use of your advertising budget and increases the likelihood of achieving your desired results.

  • Awareness Stage: At this stage, potential customers are just discovering your brand or product. Video ads should be designed to attract attention and generate interest. This could include educational content, brand stories, or even entertaining videos that indirectly relate to your product or service.
  • Consideration Stage: Now, potential customers are considering their options. They're aware of their problem and are looking for a solution. Video ads can highlight product features, offer comparisons with competitors, or show customer testimonials to demonstrate your product's value.
  • Decision Stage: Here, potential customers are ready to make a purchase decision. Video ads can include product demonstrations, reviews, or detailed explainer videos that highlight the benefits of choosing your product or service. A strong call-to-action is crucial at this stage to encourage the final step towards purchase.
  • Retention Stage: After purchase, video ads can focus on providing value to the customer. This could be through tutorial videos, new feature announcements, or customer appreciation content to build a strong relationship and encourage repeat business.

By tailoring your social media video ads to the specific stage of the sales funnel, you're delivering the right message at the right time. This strategic approach increases the chances of guiding the viewer from mere awareness to actual conversion, ultimately optimizing the effectiveness of your ad strategy.

Takeaways:

  • Align social media video ads with each stage of the sales funnel to guide potential customers towards conversion effectively.
  • Tailor ad content to each stage, from generating interest at the awareness stage to encouraging purchase at the decision stage and fostering retention after purchase.
  • Selecting the appropriate campaign objective for each stage of the funnel allows for efficient use of advertising budget and increases the likelihood of achieving desired results.

5. Use High-Quality Visuals

Utilizing high-quality visuals in your video ads is pivotal for creating a professional and polished impression on your viewers. In the digital age, where visuals dominate our screens, the quality of your visuals can profoundly impact the effectiveness of your ads.

  1. Video Quality: Use an HD or UHD camera for clear, crisp footage. Nowadays, even advanced smartphones can do the trick.
  1. Lighting: Good lighting dramatically improves your visuals. Use natural light or ensure indoor subjects are well-lit, avoiding harsh shadows.
  1. Composition: Apply techniques like the rule of thirds or leading lines for engaging shots.
  1. Editing: Use editing software to touch up your visuals. This can include color grading, adding effects, or transitions.
  1. Animations/Graphics: These can add flair to your video and emphasize key points, but use them sparingly to avoid distracting from your core message.

Above all, your visuals should enhance and support your core message, not distract from it. High-quality visuals not only draw attention but also reflect your brand's quality and company professionalism.

Takeaways:

  • Use high-quality visuals, including HD or UHD footage, good lighting, and engaging composition techniques, to enhance the effectiveness of video ads.
  • Employ editing software to refine visuals, including color grading and transitions, and consider using animations or graphics now and then to emphasize key points.
  • Ensure visuals enhance the core message and reflect your brand's professionalism, rather than distracting from the message.

6. Keep it Short and Engaging

Keeping your video ads short and engaging is key to the best performance on social media. With a multitude of content vying for user attention on the platform, time is the most valuable commodity. The brevity of your video ad can make a big difference in capturing and maintaining viewer interest.

The optimal length for social video ads is generally between 6 seconds to a minute, while 15-second and 30-second video ads are most widely used. This duration allows you to convey your message succinctly without losing the viewer's attention. 

However, the most critical part of the video is the first few seconds. Studies show that you have as little as 3 seconds to hook your viewer. Therefore, your video should start with a captivating hook that instantly grabs attention and encourages viewers to continue watching.

Here are the most common video ad durations depending on the platform:

  • Instagram: 15 seconds or less
  • Facebook: 15 seconds or less
  • TikTok: 9 to 15 seconds
  • YouTube: 15 to 30 seconds
  • LinkedIn: 15 to 30 seconds

Remember, an engaging video is not just about catching the viewer's eye. It's about delivering value in a concise and captivating way that encourages viewers to take the desired action.

Takeaways:

  • Keep video ads short, generally between 6 seconds to a minute, to capture and maintain viewer interest amidst the content overload on social media.
  • Start videos with a captivating hook, as the first few seconds are critical for grabbing attention.
  • Tailor ad durations to specific platforms for optimal engagement, and focus on delivering value concisely to prompt viewers towards the desired action.

7. Include Subtitles

Adding subtitles to your social media video ads is an important strategy for enhancing accessibility and boosting engagement. Many users browse social media platforms in settings where they can't or don't want to play audio, like while commuting or in a quiet room. As a result, a significant percentage of video ads are viewed with the sound off. 

By including subtitles, you ensure that your message is conveyed clearly to all viewers, regardless of their audio situation.

Subtitles can also aid comprehension. They help clarify complex terms or information and are a useful tool for those whose first language is different from the video's language. We should always take the opportunity to make content more inclusive and user-friendly, which also expands your reach.

From an accessibility standpoint, subtitles are essential. They allow deaf and hard of hearing users to interact with your content, ensuring it is accessible to a diverse audience.

Creating subtitles often involves producing a text transcript of your video's audio and synchronizing it with the video using software tools or online platforms. Many social media platforms also offer auto-caption features, although you should check to make sure any auto-generated captions are correct and free of errors.

In summary, subtitles aren't just a nice-to-have – they can significantly enhance your video ad's effectiveness by ensuring your message is accessible and understood by as many people as possible.

Takeaways:

  • Incorporate subtitles in video ads to enhance accessibility and boost engagement, as many viewers watch videos with sound off.
  • Use subtitles to aid comprehension, clarify complex information, and make content inclusive, potentially expanding reach.
  • Subtitles are crucial for accessibility, allowing deaf and hard-of-hearing users to interact with your content, thereby increasing its effectiveness.

8. Add a Call to Action

Creating a compelling Call to Action (CTA) is a key aspect of any successful social media video ad. The CTA is your invitation to the viewer, instructing them what step to take after watching your video. It’s the result you want from your video, from visiting your website, subscribing to a newsletter, downloading an app, and buying a product, to simply sharing the video with others.

A well-crafted CTA is a vital tool in converting viewers into potential leads or customers. Without a CTA, even an engaging video with a clear message can leave viewers wondering what their next step should be. 

Pro Tip: Ad viewers will not take action unless you tell them to. 

Here are some essential considerations for your CTA:

  1. Clarity: Be explicit and precise about what you want your viewers to do next.
  1. Positioning: Place your CTA strategically. This is typically at the end of the video, but for longer videos, a mid-video CTA or repeating a CTA several times can be effective. 
  1. Urgency: Creating a sense of urgency, such as using phrases like "Sign up today" or "Limited offer," can prompt immediate action.
  1. Value Proposition: Highlight what viewers will gain by following your CTA. Will they learn more? Get a discount? Make sure this benefit is clear.
  1. Simplicity: The easier it is to follow your CTA, the more likely viewers are to take action. Short phrases of just two or three words can work amazingly well.
  1. Visibility: Ensure your CTA stands out visually. Use bold colors, large text, or animation to make it pop.

In conclusion, a well-thought-out CTA acts as a bridge between viewer engagement and conversion. It's a crucial driver of the impact of your video ad on social media.

Takeaways:

  • Create a compelling Call to Action (CTA) in your video ads to guide viewers toward the desired action, converting engagement into potential leads or customers.
  • Make your CTA clear, strategically positioned, urgent, and simple to follow, with a clear value proposition and high visibility to prompt immediate action.
  • The CTA serves as a bridge between engagement and conversion, being a key driver of your video ad's effectiveness on social media

9. Optimize for Mobile Viewing

Optimizing your social media video ads for mobile is increasingly important given the rise of smartphone usage. Studies suggest that a significant percentage of social media users access these platforms via mobile devices. This means that creating a mobile-friendly experience is critical to effectively reach and engage with your audience.

Here are some strategies for optimizing your video ads for mobile:

  1. Vertical Video: Vertical video takes up more screen space on mobile devices, making it more immersive for the viewer. Consider filming in vertical or adjusting your video format to suit vertical viewing. Vertical video is also called a 9x16 aspect ratio.
  1. Clear Text: Text should be big enough to be easily read on smaller screens. If your video relies on text, make sure it's legible and doesn't overcrowd the screen.
  1. Short Length: Mobile users often browse on the go, meaning their attention spans are shorter. Keep your video ads concise and engaging to capture and maintain viewers' interest. See our advice on length above.
  1. Captions: As mentioned earlier, many mobile users watch videos without sound. Adding captions ensures your message gets across even without audio.
  1. Load Times: Make sure your video ad loads quickly. Slow-loading content can frustrate users and cause them to move on before your ad has even started. Tip: After you post your video, test your ad out on your device or a friend’s device and make sure it looks how you imagine.

By optimizing for mobile, you ensure your video ads are user-friendly and accessible to the majority of your audience, regardless of the device they're using. This can significantly improve the effectiveness and reach of your video ads.

Takeaways:

  • Vertical or square video formats, clear text, and short video length are essential for optimizing social media video ads for mobile devices, due to increased mobile device usage for accessing social media.
  • Including captions enhances accessibility for users watching videos without sound, while ensuring quick load times prevents losing viewers due to impatience.
  • Creating a mobile-friendly experience can significantly improve the effectiveness, accessibility, and reach of your video ads.

10. Leveraging User-Generated Content (UGC)

User-Generated Content (UGC) is any form of content, such as images, videos, text, or audio, that has been posted by users on social media platforms. It's essentially word-of-mouth for the digital age. When incorporated into your video ads, it can significantly boost their effectiveness and in the best case, go viral.

Here's why UGC is so powerful:

Authenticity: UGC offers a genuine and unfiltered view of your brand from the customer's perspective. It shows your product or service being used in real-life situations, adding a level of authenticity that can be hard to achieve with professionally produced content.

Trust: People trust their peers more than they trust brands. In fact, according to research, user-generated content is considered more trustworthy and influential on purchase decisions than other types of media.

Engagement: UGC is often more engaging than brand-created content. When your audience sees people like them in your ads, it can encourage them to interact, share, or even create their own content.

To leverage UGC in your video ads, start by encouraging your audience to share their experiences organically with your brand on social media. This could be through contests, giveaways, or simply by asking for their feedback or stories. When you receive UGC, always ask for permission before using it in your ads.

Next, incorporate the best UGC content into your video ad strategy. This could involve creating a montage of customer testimonials, showing real-life product demonstrations, or sharing stories of how your product or service has made a difference in people's lives.

By leveraging UGC, you can create more authentic, engaging, and effective video ads, ultimately boosting your social media advertising performance.

Takeaways:

  • User-Generated Content (UGC) enhances the authenticity of your video ads. It offers a real-life customer perspective of your brand and boosts message effectiveness.
  • UGC instills trust. Psychologically, people trust their peers more than brands, and ugc has the power to influence purchase decisions more than other media types.
  • UGC in video ads can drive higher engagement. Relatable content can encourage viewers to interact, share, or even create their own organic content related to your brand.

11. Track your Stats

Using analytics tools to measure the performance of your social media video ads is key to understanding what works and what doesn't for your specific audience. The right metrics can provide actionable insights that you can leverage to optimize your future ads for engagement and conversion.

Some essential metrics you should track include:

  1. View Count: This tells you how many people have seen your ad. A high view count indicates that your ad is reaching a broad audience, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it's engaging.
  1. Engagement: This is measured by the number of likes, shares, comments, and clicks your ad receives. High engagement often indicates that your ad resonates with your audience, but it also doesn’t mean that people are making a purchase.
  1. View Duration: This measures how long viewers watch your video. If viewers are dropping off early, you may need to make your initial content more engaging. Your first goal is always to grab enough of the viewer’s attention to deliver your message.
  1. Click-Through Rate (CTR): This shows the percentage of viewers who click on your CTA. A low CTR may indicate that your CTA isn't compelling enough or your video content doesn't persuasively support the action you want viewers to take.
  1. Conversion Rate: This measures the number of viewers who complete the desired action (like making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter) after clicking on your CTA.
  1. Return on Investment (ROI): Measures the financial return you receive from your ad relative to its cost. It's a vital metric for understanding the profitability of your campaign.
  1. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): (Formula: Revenue directly from Ads / Ad Spend). Similar to ROI, this metric tells you how much revenue you earn for every dollar spent on the ad. It's another key indicator of the campaign's effectiveness. This measurement allows you to determine if your campaigns are specifically generating revenue. Scale the campaigns that work, cut the campaigns that aren’t generating enough revenue. We go into more detail about metrics and ROAS in our other blog posts.
  2. MER (Marketing Efficiency Ratio): (Formula: Total Revenue / Ad spend). In the age of digital privacy, it’s often impossible to attribute every sale to a specific ad. Many marketers are now using MER which is a broad metric that gives you a multiple of what you are spending on ads vs. the total revenue of a business. Keep your marketing spend at a certain level vs. your overall revenue based on your goals.

It's important to note that the relevance of these metrics can vary depending on your campaign goals. If your goal is brand awareness, view count and engagement might be the most critical. If it's conversions you're after, then CTR and conversion rate will be the focus. Check out How to Set Up and Run Meta Ads in 2023 for a deep dive on how to set campaign goals on Meta.

By regularly reviewing these analytics, you can make data-driven decisions to refine your video ad strategy. Identify trends, uncover areas for improvement, and determine which aspects of your video ads are driving the most results. Ultimately, this allows you to create more effective video ads that align with your objectives and resonate with your audience. We discuss how to review and optimize video ads in our other blog posts.

Where do you find analytics?

Every platform usually has a dashboard like Meta Ads, Google Ads, or LinkedIn Ads. You can view the metrics on the dashboard and customize which metrics you want to see by default. Alternatively, you can always download spreadsheets or plug into the APIs to programmatically access the data.

Takeaways:

  • Utilizing analytics in social media video ads provides valuable insights into what engages your specific audience, helps optimize future ads, and maximizes engagement and conversion rates.
  • Key metrics to monitor include view count, engagement rate, view duration, click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, return on investment (ROI), and return on ad spend (ROAS), though their relevance may vary based on campaign goals.
  • Regularly reviewing these analytics aids in making data-driven decisions to refine your video ad strategy, highlighting trends, potential areas of improvement, and the most result-driving aspects of your video ads.

Value, Value, Value

Creating high-performing video ads on social media is a multifaceted process that requires thoughtful planning, creativity, and strategic execution. From understanding your audience to crafting compelling narratives, leveraging analytics, and aligning your content with the sales funnel stages, each step plays a pivotal role in the success of your video ad campaigns. 

But the key to truly captivating your audience lies in delivering value. If your video ads educate, entertain, inspire, or solve a problem for your audience, they are more likely to engage and ultimately convert. 

As technology and consumer habits continue to evolve, keeping these best practices in mind will help you stay ahead of the curve and maximize the impact of your social media video ads. Keep iterating and innovating, and you'll witness the power of well-crafted video ads in driving your brand's growth and success. Happy creating!

How to Define Success

Success in the realm of social media video ads can take on many forms, but at its core, success results from creating a meaningful connection with your audience that is strong enough to drive them to complete a desired action. Success could mean building brand awareness among an audience, generating leads for follow up contact, driving website traffic, or promoting sales of specific items. 

Beyond just numbers, true success means creating content that resonates with viewers, sparks conversations, and cultivates long-lasting relationships. In a modern world where everyone is dealing with information overload, sustainable success means being authentic, delivering value, and creating memorable experiences that keep your clients and customers coming back for more.

But how can you come up with and create a video ad that achieves these goals? How do you stand out in the crowded social media space and truly engage your audience? That's exactly what we'll explore in this blog!

We will explore proven strategies and practical tips to guide you in crafting high-performing video ads across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube. Buckle up and let’s transform your social media video advertising strategy!

The Filmkraft Method...

A still from our Telly award-winning video for 1800Flowers

If you want a team behind you that understands how to maximize the impact of your social media video ads, from planning, to creative production, to testing, get in touch with us. We’d love to hear your goals and discuss what approach might be best for your video ads!

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