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Video ads for social media: how to do it right

Summary When creating video ads for social media, there are some precautions you’ll want to follow, which can help you be more relevant,…

Ads for social media
Marketing Team
Video Marketing Video ads for social media: how to do it right


When creating video ads for social media, there are some precautions you’ll want to follow, which can help you be more relevant, but also more human (and more effective in getting results).

By now, a truly effective marketing strategy necessarily includes the use of video ads as content to convey their messages.

At the same time, having a presence on social media is something no marketing strategy can ignore.

Combining the two, it is easy to conclude that video ads for social media are an important tool in building effective communication, if not the primary tool for reaching users with relevant communications able to produce a reaction.

Having said that, it’s not a given that everyone knows how to create engaging video ads that are effective for social media. After all, we’re all used to creating content and sharing it on social media and this, in some way, may have deluded us into thinking that anyone can do it.

Worse, it has convinced us that everyone, if they want to, is capable of creating content that can be shared and enjoyed on social media with the clear intent of pursuing certain strategic objectives.

Obviously this is not the case. On the contrary, there are many examples of high quality video ads that have represented an unexpected goal for the brands that have distributed them.

An example is the recent “Let life happen” video by John Lewis and starring a cute little boy dancing around the house.

Although the film is a clear continuation of another very successful commercial, also by the same brand, with a little girl as the protagonist, the release of the video was met with a lot of criticism and controversy, mostly concentrated on social media.

Beyond these criticisms, the case of John Lewis is clarifying and shows how even giants in advertising communication can run into content that does not perform as expected.

Therefore, it’s all the more reason for smaller companies to be careful, not only to avoid crises (which there can be, although rare) but also to ensure a certain effectiveness and certain results for the campaign.

The shorter the better

The first piece of advice is not new. In fact, it’s an unwritten law for all those who want to create video ads for social media content: duration matters and the shorter, the better.

All social platforms have shown that they prefer and value short video content. Instagram‘s great success is undoubtedly linked to stories, which were created to be short and immediate. Facebook has integrated the story function in order to adapt to the type of content that is more engaging for users. Tik Tok has become a giant by offering a constant succession of short videos without interruption.

But how short should video ads for social media be?

The main format, even from a sponsorship perspective, is undoubtedly the 30-second format, short enough not to bore, but long enough to entertain.

However, there is no absolute length of time that viewers prefer: let’s say that a minute and under is optimal for certain KPIs.

For example, short-form videos have been shown to have the highest level of ROI relative to the amount of budget provided for the social marketing strategy (which averages around 30%).

On the other hand, shorter durations are preferred not because the platforms value them, but also because they are highly appreciated by users. Consider the fact that 68% of people are happy to watch video ads as long as they are under a minute – and that the content is of quality and able to entertain effectively.

You have to say everything you need to say right away

Another key tip to keep in mind when creating video ads for social media is to give a hierarchy to the messages you want to convey.

It’s common knowledge that the attention span of the average user is decidedly low. This is even more true if we talk about social networks.

Considering this, and the fact that the preferred format is no longer than one minute, the messages that can be transmitted are limited. This means that the shorter they are the better, so you must be sure to be clear and effective from the start.

However, if you need to say more to your audience, you’ll need to order the information, giving prevalence to the most important parts.

In particular, the key message, the communicative core of the content, must be expressed in an appealing way in the first 3 seconds of the video, the time when a viewer decides whether a video will be effective.

From certain surveys, it has been noted that 65% of people who watch the first three seconds of a video are likely to watch the next 10 seconds, so the construction of the content must take this into account and push a relevant and engaging message from the start.

Another “hot” moment in any video ad is the ending, because it’s the last thing each user sees before moving on to the next piece of content. Therefore, you need to use that segment to push a specific call to action in order to increase the chances of conversion that the video offers.

You can build different videos from just one

Although the short video is preferred, from an engagement and conversion perspective, 30 seconds is not the only format available to use on social media.

In fact, social media is also suitable for sharing other formats: the 15-second format, the 45-second format, the one-minute format and even the five-second format.

Each of these allows a different communicative construction, more narrative or more functional to a strategic objective.

In any case, to make sure that your video is properly amplified on social media, you’ll want to take advantage of all these formats and use them simultaneously on the platforms, planning different communication waves, distributed over time. In this way, a message is repeated with different intensity over time, becoming more memorable.

To do this, the starting video must be built from a segmentation logic, i.e. providing that you can get different cuts of different lengths, to be adapted to the social communication, from the same content.

Video ads for social media must always be understandable, even without audio

Another element to consider when creating content for social media is the mode of use adopted by viewers.

Often, people see video ads directly on social platforms in preview mode. This means that most of the time, the video is seen but not heard.

The “sound off” factor must be kept in mind in these cases, especially from the point of view of understanding. If the main distribution channel is considered to be a social network, the content must be able to convey a message even without sound or voice over.

Consequently, it is necessary to provide elements that promote understanding, such as captions, which, among other things, have a positive effect on the effectiveness of video ads, since people stay 12% longer to watch video ads with captions than those without.

Video ads for social work in the right social channels

Not all video ads are suitable for all social networks.

To make the sharing of video ads as effective as possible, you’ll want to carefully choose the channel you decide to use. There must be a certain consistency between the type of content and the social media used, otherwise the risk is to return an inadequate and alienating communication.

For example, on Facebook you can use video ads with a lighter and more engaging tone, the audience is more broad. However, video ads on LinkedIn should have a decidedly more institutional structure, since it will mainly be seen by professionals or experts in the field.

Influencers are an incredible resource for social media video ads

Among the most interesting digital marketing trends for 2022 is undoubtedly the growing relevance of influencer marketing.

Influencers now play an important role online and have become strategically relevant touch points for every brand.

Just think that 27% of Generation Z users are on social media to follow their favorite influencers and only secondarily to see content from their favorite brands.

This means that in order to create effective video ads for social media, these are types of resources you should use to amplify your content.

Moreover, the advantages of this choice are obvious: involving influencers makes it easier to reach a specific audience, which will perceive the message expressed as more relevant. Secondly, the presence of the influencer also represents a kind of endorsement towards the brand, which benefits from the authority of the influencer involved.

In addition, video ads for social media that have an influencer as protagonist are perceived as more genuine and reliable, since they create a relationship of immediate empathy with the user, who is led to pay more attention than usual.

Ads can still look real

More users are looking for real life experiences and content that reflects their lives, where they can recognize themselves.

This need for authenticity is demonstrated by the content they prefer to watch: stories, reels and Tik Tok videos, i.e. unpolished content, with an almost amateurish feel.

The social universe, after all, is a world where the real (or realistic) works best and where more and more people are trying to promote a non-stereotypical image of themselves.

Brands also want to utilize this effect, creating content that appears as real as possible, far from the classic glossy and overly constructed advertising approach.

Consistency is key

Another key factor to consider when creating video ads for social media is timing, or rather consistency.

To be sure that a message is effective, it must be repeated at regular intervals so that it remains impressed in the mind of the user who sees it from time to time and slowly absorbs it.

Video ads need precise and strategic timing, and they must help you meet your objectives.

However, being consistent doesn’t mean being repetitive. The user must be involved with content that is always new or in any case engaging; in this sense, it can be useful to use catchy introductory phrases, to grab the user’s attention immediately. Finally, instead of starting the video by talking about a product or service, why not start by talking about a problem, which can be shared by viewers and solved by the brand.

Know your users to create better video ads for social media

The last piece of advice to follow may be trivial, but it is perhaps the most important, which can make the difference between a winning piece of content and an irrelevant one: know the viewer.

Never forget that on the other side of the screen there is a person, with specific needs, interests, and requirements.

These are the levers you need to use to attract the attention of consumers. In fact, marketing communication is becoming increasingly customer centric, i.e. more focused on the human component rather than on the functional business component.

Therefore, it is essential, even in a video ad, to give an added value to the user, not just an offer, since today, it’s no longer the product or service that makes brands distinctive online.

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