Social media video content is still dominating users’ attention spans. Right now, people are watching over 100 million hours of Facebook videos and over five billion YouTube videos every day. Even more astoundingly, 80% of all internet traffic this year will come from people streaming videos.
With the insane popularity of video content on social media showing no signs of shrinking in 2020, brands are scrambling to catch consumers’ attention in an increasingly video-first world. The question is, with so much content out there, how can you stand out?
One way is to be fearless in exploring fresh video formats on social media. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are constantly putting out innovative new video types that you can take advantage of to make creative, eye-catching content.
So, we’ve pulled together the eight most compelling social media video formats that we think are worth trying in 2020. Whether you’re looking for the low-down on Facebook video formats or ideas for video formats to try in your next Instagram video, you’ll find it in this guide.
1. Vertical Videos
For a long time, vertical video had a bad reputation on social media. It didn’t fit the horizontal layout of platforms like Facebook or YouTube, and people browsing from laptops or desktops just saw it as a waste of screen space.
Times have changed, though. Smartphones have changed the way users interact with video content, as over 60% of online video plays are now on mobile devices. What’s more, viewers find it unnatural to turn their phones horizontally every time they want to watch a video—research has found people hold their phones vertically 94% of the time.
So, shooting and releasing vertical videos is sure to hit the sweet spot for mobile viewers. Fortunately, YouTube and Facebook now both support phone-friendly vertical videos, Snapchat’s video ads are all vertical, plus Facebook and Instagram have pushed hard for the format with both Stories videos and last year’s release of IGTV.
Vertical video is a new and exciting way to format video content, giving brands the chance to experiment with unique angles and framing. In fact, a study by Facebook found that 65% of users find brands using vertical videos more innovative, and 79% said the format was more engaging than a horizontal layout.
Vertical video is undoubtedly a natural fit for mobile, but it hasn’t come without its critics, who have found the format not well suited for certain types of content, such as dance and sports. In a surprise announcement in May 2020, Instagram surrendered their battle for all-vertical content on its platform, when it announced that it will begin supporting horizontal video on IGTV. The change comes as a bid to establish IGTV as a destination for great content and give more creators more creative freedom.
Since fullscreen vertical video is still new to many users, they’re sure to remember highly creative uses of the space. Take advantage of the unique layout by creating content that pans up or down instead of side to side, try splitting the frame in two, or play around with animations that flip or scroll down the screen.
2. Live Stream Videos
Live social video offers a real-time perspective of your business, which viewers connect with. This unedited format builds trust and gives your audience a chance to engage with you directly, ask questions, and react to your video as it’s filmed so you can see how it’s landing.
This is a smart format to give a behind-the-scenes look at your brand, showcase a big event or new product, or hold an interview with an industry leader who will help boost engagement with your audience. You can see more benefits of using live video in our guide here.
Instagram: While Instagram generally supports square, horizontal and vertical video formats, Instagram live video can only have a 9:16 vertical ratio and they can be up to 60 minutes long. Instagram live video is displayed at the top of your audience’s feed, and it even takes priority in the queue over Stories, so take advantage of this to offer them something they can only see by watching your broadcast. If you have ever wished for a magic way to beat the Instagram algorithm and gain maximum visibility, this just might be it.
Do a test run and check the quality of your video. Don’t be afraid to work with a script or outline to keep your message on track. Promote your broadcast across channels ahead of time to let your audience know when you’ll be live. Go live with another account to do collaborations and Q&As, and don’t forget to engage with the viewers by mentioning them by name as they enter the live stream and interacting with their comments. Save your video when you’re done so that you can reuse the content, and add it to your Stories, where it will be viewable for another 24 hours.
Going live on Instagram is simple, intuitive, and a great way to generate hype around events.
Facebook: Facebook Live videos are carefully weighted within the Facebook algorithm to show up higher in a newsfeed while they are filmed. Facebook encourages users to inform their audiences about upcoming broadcasts ahead of time to gain the biggest live audience possible. You can broadcast a live video spontaneously, or schedule it under the Publishing Tools tab of your Facebook Page.
Offering live content may also boost your page’s presence within your audience’s feed.
Create a compelling description for your Facebook live video to give it context and draw a qualified audience. Engage with viewers by greeting them by name, and remind them to follow you to receive notifications of when you’re going live. Facebook recommends a broadcast of a minimum of 10 minutes.
Our #FacebookLive with Jen Atkin of Ouai Haircare and Christophe Robin Paris was a hit. Watch again to find holiday hairstyle inspiration.
Posted by SEPHORA on Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Twitter: Twitter live video is available for mobile and tablet users and, through Periscope, broadcasting from other external video sources to provide crisper, professional video. The audience is able to comment and send hearts in support while the video is broadcast. Recently, Twitter and Periscope also introduced multi-person live videos, meaning that you can now easily broadcast collaborations and Q&As, and your audience can request to join your lives.
Practice your live video ahead of time, and don’t be afraid to use scripts. Build anticipation by leading into something you’ll reveal later. Twitter recommends a broadcast of a minimum of 10 minutes. Check out Periscope Producer for high-quality live streaming.
3. Stories Videos
Speaking of vertical video content, there’s no more popular vertical layout right now than Stories videos. Stories, created by Snapchat and popularized by Facebook and Instagram, are sets of images and videos uploaded by users that typically disappear after 24 hours.
While some brands have questioned the value of creating temporary content (also known as “ephemeral content”), most have realized that the fleeting nature of Stories is great for generating excitement and urgency—like these 5 famous brands kicking butt on Instagram. As audiences are increasingly craving authenticity over picture-perfect feeds, Stories videos offer a way to build organic, in-the-moment relationships with audiences.
Other than their mobile-friendly layout and their 24-hour limit, Stories have a lot to offer brands. For one thing, they’re relatively new and popular with a younger demographic, so they’re a good match for brands that want to appeal to those users.
They’re also constantly getting new features that brands can leverage to engage people, seem more human and stand out from the competition. Take music stickers, which let you add the latest hits as background music to your Stories videos, making them more fun and memorable. Or question stickers, which prompt people to connect with your brand in an “ask me anything”-style format that’s sure to encourage interactions.
IG Stories features like question stickers are a great way to start conversations with your audience.
Plus, Stories on every platform have been expanding their advertising and e-commerce capabilities hugely over the last year with features like shoppable tags on Instagram and CTA stickers on Facebook.
Considering all this, working Stories videos into your social media content strategy for 2020 looks like a great bet if you want to connect with young people, get more engagement, or expand your social e-commerce.
Be sure to take advantage of fun Stories features like filters, stickers, and captions—but only where appropriate for your brand. For instance, if you’re a soda company, you can probably get away with a lot more whacky effects than a major bank.
4. Looping Videos
Looping content has been a part of the internet landscape ever since gifs (a looping series of pictures) were launched in the late ’80s.
Today, evolutions of gifs can be seen all around social media, most notably in the form of looping videos, which offer an easy way to make short-form video content that pops in users’ feeds. The format burst onto the scene with the popularity of apps like Vine on Twitter and Boomerang on Instagram, which let people easily create quick videos that repeat after only a few seconds. The format quickly soared in popularity, and it has been a gif that keeps on giffing ever since.
The appeal of these micro-videos lies in just how short and fast-paced they are. In fact, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has stated that videos lasting six seconds or less show “higher brand metrics across the board.”
Considering that the average human attention span is now down to about eight seconds, it makes sense that shorter content performs better on social media. If users have videos set to autoplay in their feeds, they’ll easily see your whole looping video while scrolling, too.
Given their popularity, it seems like looping videos aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. The latest talk on the town is that WhatsApp is reportedly working on introducing Boomerang-like looping videos to its video editing panel, where users can already transform their videos into looping gifs.
Luckily, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will all automatically loop your videos if they’re short enough—encouraging users to watch them repeatedly and really hammering your brand message home. If you want your videos to auto-loop, keep them under 30 seconds on Facebook, between three and 60 seconds on Instagram, and under six and a half seconds on Twitter.
5. Animated Text Videos
Animated text videos, also known as animated visuals, look at first glance like any other image post…until they come to life. Animating the text on an otherwise still image makes whatever quotes, stats, or other content you’ve written really pop.
Like looping videos, the appeal of animated text videos lies in their short, attention-grabbing style. Think about it: would you be more likely to stop scrolling in your feed for a visual of static text or for a dynamic video that pans, zooms, and reveals the text to you dramatically?
Think of animated text as an alternative to bland, standard image posts. They’re more likely to get users to really focus on the meaning of the text too, so they’re excellent for conveying important brand messages.
Making text animations doesn’t require fancy graphic design skills. Apps like Adobe Spark Post, Ripl, Hype Type, and CreatorKit let marketers with minimal design experience animate their visuals in a simple, affordable and intuitive way. Plus, Facebook now has a similar tool brands can use natively. Stay on top of some of the current graphic design trends to make sure your content stands out.
6. Personalized Videos
In a world where consumers are increasingly becoming desensitized to advertising and 47 % have installed ad blockers, personalized videos, or ‘dynamic videos’ as they’re also called, can offer a golden ticket to stand out from the crowds.
A personalized video can be anything from a seasonal greeting with your customer’s name on it to a video using customer demographic and social data to tailor-make a video fit for their particular profile. UK chocolatier Cadbury did exactly this in a product marketing campaign. The campaign used data from the customer’s Facebook profile, such as age, location, and interests, to match a flavor of their chocolate to the user. It also populated a nostalgia-inducing video with personal touches (after the user had connected with the brand and given their consent for data use).
Facebook has also recognized the power of personalization in creating stronger relationships with audiences and driving engagement. Like them or not, chances are that if you’re on Facebook, you’ve come across their personalized “Friendship Anniversary” videos.
As video as a marketing medium matures, personalization is how you can offer something new, and create a unique and memorable experience for your audience.
An easy way to get started with personalized video is integrating it into your email sequence. You can also use it to wow your sales prospects. Remember that content and storytelling are still the king and queen, so don’t overlook them in favor of personalization. Consider what kind of action you want your video to inspire, and set out clear, measurable goals to make sure your video performs and isn’t just a shiny gimmick.
7. AR Videos
— Ricardo (@RicO2O) June 28, 2019
Augmented reality (AR) videos have a lot of potential, and they’re just going to keep growing in the future. Snapchat has been pioneering AR video effects with its Lenses, which let users change their appearance or insert virtual objects into their videos.
Recently, they released shoppable Lenses that let brands create their own AR effects for photos and videos on the platform that come with a CTA button.
Facebook has also been exploring opportunities for brands to get in on the AR video effect game. For example, their new AR Studio tool lets anyone create AR filters and effects.
That means brands can create custom AR content that they can use in Facebook videos. It also opens up big opportunities to encourage user-generated content—if your brand makes a funny or engaging branded AR filter and it goes viral, that’s massive reach for free.
Even if you don’t have the resources to create your own AR video effects, using existing AR filters in your videos is a good way to spice up your content and make your brand more relatable.
8. 360º Videos / VR Videos
360 videos, also known as immersive videos or VR videos, are one of the most engaging social media video formats of the past few years. They place users at the center of the content, letting them look in any direction using their phones or a VR headset.
That feeling of control makes users feel involved in the content, keeping their focus and getting them invested in the video’s message.
If you want even more immersive videos, you can actually shoot 360 live videos. Viewers watch videos as they happen and can see everything going on around the camera. Short of actually being there, there’s nothing more in-the-moment than live VR content.
If you want to draw attention to a major event like a conference or product launch, we highly recommend this format.
At the moment, you can post 360 videos on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter—so any videos you produce in the format can be part of a multi-channel campaign.
Many marketers shy away from making VR video content because they assume it requires multiple cameras or expensive omnidirectional ones. In reality, though, free apps such as Splash let you shoot 360 videos with nothing more than a smartphone.
So, no more excuses—give 360 videos a try. It’s sure to turn heads (literally).
360/omnidirectional cameras use fish-eye lenses, which will distort objects up close to the camera. If you’re using one, be sure to keep your distance. Also, 360 videos tend to have a large file size, so you may need to compress them or downscale their quality so they’re not too big to upload.
(See our 2021 Social Media Image Size Guide for all the best specs for social media videos)
The future of social media video formats
In 2020 and beyond, we’re looking forward to seeing the rise of new social video formats and the growth of existing ones. AR and VR videos are still in their early days of development, while Stories and live stream video look poised to become standard ways of consuming video content.
It’s hard to say what the future will hold, but we know this much: users gravitate toward fresh content and innovative visuals. If your brand can evolve and adapt to the latest video styles and formats, you’ll get an edge over the competition in this video-obsessed world.