Are you considering video for your paid social campaigns?
Do you want some rock-solid tips for creating video ads that deliver results?
Then you’re in the right place. Video ads for your social media advertising campaigns are essential to your success on most platforms.
And there’s a good reason for that: Consumers prefer video.
Let’s say you wanted to learn about something. Which of these scenarios is more likely?
- Go to the library and check out a book on your topic, then read the book.
- Go to YouTube.
Video is simply how things get done now. People use video to learn things, to communicate with one another, and to discover new products. In ancient Egypt they used hieroglyphics to communicate, in 2021 we use video.
With that said, it’s one thing to want to use video in your social media ads and quite another to actually execute a successful video strategy. In this blog post, we’re going to unpack the rationale for video ads, outline the different types of video ads available to you, and provide some expert tips on how to get the most of your videos.
Why Use Video Ads in Your Social Media Advertising Strategy?
Before we get into the details of video strategy, here’s a quick recap of why you need video in your paid social strategy:
1. People love video
As noted above, video is the preferred communication and consumption method for virtually everybody.
According to a study by Wyzowl, 96% of consumers increased their online video consumption in 2020, and 9 out of 10 of those viewers indicated they wanted to see more videos from brands.
Your customers are begging you for video content—give it to them!
2. Videos are more engaging
By nature, there is more for audiences to engage with when it comes to video vs. photo or image. With a still image, there is a graphic or photo to see and maybe text to read; that’s it.
With video, there is motion to follow with your eyes, animated text to read, music and/or voice overs to listen to. Not to mention that in most social ad formats (more on those below), you can add supplementary text and buttons adjacent to the video.
Video essentially allows people to multitask, and we know people love to multitask.
3. Video ads provide better ROI
Marketers aren’t using video in their ad campaigns for the fun of it—there’s a clear case for getting better results. From the Wyzowl State of Video Marketing in 2021, a sample of 813 marketers confirmed that:
- 78% of video marketers say video has directly helped increase sales.
- 84% of video marketers say video has helped them generate leads.
And if those reasons don’t make a strong enough case for video, go look up your competitors' social media accounts and see if they’re publishing videos. Hint—they are.
What Do Video Ads Look Like on Facebook/Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat
Now let’s get into the details of how and where each video ad will appear in three of the most popular social media platforms.
Facebook and Instagram
There are several types of video ads on Facebook and Instagram. You can explore the full list on Facebook’s support page and their corresponding technical specs, but here are a few commonly used placements:
In-feed ads look just like organic content and appear as you scroll through the News Feed. In-feed ads appear on both Facebook and Instagram.
There are a few video ad basics worth calling out:
- Video - This is where your video will play as somebody scrolls. If you use captions, they will appear within this frame as well.
- Account - Your Facebook profile photo will be displayed here with the word “Sponsored” written in grey.
- Primary text - You can (and should) write your ad copy here, and try to keep it under 125 characters or else it will be truncated.
- Headline - Use a compelling headline here that is under 40 characters.
- CTA button - Choose from a variety of CTAs to get the user to click through to your landing or product page.
Stories ads are full-screen videos that are vertically oriented that play in between organic Stories. Videos that are longer than 15 seconds get split into different “cards” that play consecutively. Stories ads appear on both Facebook and Instagram.
With stories, you do not have the same supporting features that you do in in-stream ads, so you’ll need to feature any of that type of content in the video file itself. The only CTA option you have here is to “Swipe Up” to get users to proceed to your website.
In-Stream video ads are like the “buffer ads” placement on YouTube that play in the middle of another video. They only appear on mobile devices after 60 seconds of continuous play of the main video. In-Stream ads only appear on Facebook.
Facebook Video Feed ads are shown in between organic videos on Facebook Video Feed. The Video Feed is scrollable and opens when somebody plays a video from their News Feed. Video Feed ads only appear on Facebook.
Facebook Marketplace video ads are displayed when users are shopping on Facebook Marketplace. Facebook Marketplace video ads only appear on Facebook.
While TikTok is a much newer social platform with fewer and less sophisticated advertising options than Facebook, there are still enough placements to draw a massive amount of advertisers who are getting real results. Here are the available placements:
In-Feed Ads show up in a user’s feed as they scroll through. They are skippable and fairly unobtrusive. They are also the only ad format on TikTok available through the auction.
You can find the video specifications for all TikTok placements here.
Brand Takeover Ads are designed to reach large audiences through visually captivating 60-second videos that are full-screen and have their audio on by default. They are a premium placement that appear as soon as somebody opens the TikTok app.
Hashtag Challenge Ads are specifically designed to promote challenges on TikTok. For those unaware, TikTok challenges are massively popular among audiences and encourage users to fulfill the challenge by creating their own content and upload to the platform with the appropriate hashtag. This ad placement runs for six days.
Like Facebook, Snapchat is also a self-serve ad platform, meaning advertisers can sign up their brand and post ads without the need to go through an ad rep. Snapchat has tons of advertising options, which you can see here, but in this post we’re going to focus on the video formats.
Single Image or Video ads are essentially just like organic Snaps, but with targeting capabilities and a few more features to deliver your message. They can be videos (motion graphic, live, cinema-graph, or gif style) or still images. The video ads must be vertical orientation and be between 3-180 seconds long.
If the user is interested in the CTA, she can swipe up to learn more via website or landing page. Additionally, you’ll have 25 characters to display your brand name and 34 characters for a catchy headline.
Story Ads are image-based ‘tiles’ that reside in the Discover section of the Snapchat app. These must be paired with a single image or video ad (see above) that will play in the user taps on the Story Ad.
Tips to Create Video Ads That Attract, Engage, and Convert
Now that you know the specs and placement details for video ads, let’s get into the actual video content.
Start with a goal
Everybody, and we do mean everybody, has an idea for a ‘funny video.’ But what’s the point; what does the video accomplish in terms of business results?
When planning a video, always start with the result you want to achieve. Common video marketing goals invoice:
- Increase sales/revenue
- Create brand awareness
- Educate customers or prospects
It sounds rudimentary, but you’d be surprised how many marketers get all the way to the video product stage with a ‘funny video’ idea without a clear goal for the outcome.
Define a singular focus
We listed a few different goals in the previous section because one video can’t (and shouldn’t) have to do it all. When you’re directing a video toward a specific goal (see above), you’ll want to drive it with one theme and one theme only.
For instance, let’s say your goal is sales and your angle is that the product will save you time. DO NOT include info and storylines that deviate from that angle. This video will be somewhere between 6-60 seconds, so you don’t have time to delve into all the different features or flavors of the product. And even if you did have the time, using a laundry list of benefits is not the way to sell somebody.
Focus on one specific theme for your video and stick to it.
Put an exclamation point on your focus by using a specific call to action at the end of your video such as “Buy Now,” “Get Free Shipping,” or “Exclusive for TikTok!” Adding a specific CTA is likely to increase your chances of getting audiences to click through to your offer.
Use a hook in the first three seconds
If you’ve followed the steps above, you’re well on your way to a solid video, but none of that matters if nobody swatches past the first half second. What that means is that you need to deliver a ‘hook’ within the first three seconds of your video.
Animoto defines a hook as “Something interesting that happens at the very beginning of your video that draws in viewers,” and provides a few tips:
- Introduce a problem
- Offer a surprise
- Promise a story
- Tell your audience what to do
- Use text overlays
We couldn’t agree more!
Make videos contextual to the platform (TikTok)
Although it’s difficult to put into words, consumers understand instantly if a brand ‘gets it’ in regard to their social content and advertising. This means that if you take a video ad you created for Instagram and use it as-is on TikTok, you’re going to turn people off your brand—it looks lazy and sloppy.
Rather, ensure you have a good understanding of what types of videos have success on each platform.
For TikTok especially, it’s important to understand the culture of video there. Users tend to prefer more natural-looking content, as if they’re just watching somebody’s life being recorded on a phone.
Of course, there are some nuances on the platform such as transitions and effects that are somewhat unique to TikTok. Techniques such as the flying objects, the sudden reveal, and the 360º video allow you to use transitions for more engaging storytelling. TikTok actually has a built-in suite of camera effects to help you execute these techniques right on your phone!
What this means is that a glossy, standard-looking car commercial that you’d see on TV would look wildly out of place on TikTok, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with the video trends native to the platform before you begin production.
Or, alternatively, consider working with creators who specialize in TikTok—this allows you to import their expertise and creativity without having to go through the learning curve. You can find TikTok creators on UGC platforms like Insense.
Technical note: When using text overlays or other visuals on TikTok, avoid locating them in the bottom corners or right of the screen as they will get covered with the captions. Put the most important visual in the center of the screen and use the end of the video to drive a specific call to action.
Use captions, but also use sound
The lowest bar for an acceptable video on social media is: Does it make sense with no sound? If it doesn’t, you’ve already failed, seeing as 85% of Facebook users view videos with the sound off (Instapage).
Captions are a great way to keep the story of your video alive even if the audience is watching in silence.
The mark of a truly engaging video ad is somebody starting with the sound off, watching for a bit, then turning the sound on to see how the ending of the video turns out. Assume that your audience will watch with the sound off, but plan for them to turn it on.
Variety is best
When planning a video ad campaign, it’s best to also plan for a variety in terms of the style, length, and content of the videos. Some ‘ads’ should look like organic content shot on an iPhone, while others may be a bit more highly produced.
You’ll want to vary the content as well, from lifestyle video to product reviews to initial unboxing. This allows you to appeal to a wider range of people, as well as give you multiple ads for your retargeting campaigns.
Additionally, you’ll want to vary the video length as well. Some placements—such as the Facebook in-video feed—need to be 5 seconds. If you are able to master the short video format, you’ll open up a lot more placement opportunities that other brands probably aren’t using.
In general, however, it’s best to keep your ads between 9-15 seconds.
Create videos, not ads
When’s the last time you sat and watched an infomercial not counting sleepless nights or as a joke? Probably not in a while. That’s because with so much choice between YouTube, social media, etc., nobody wants to watch something where they’re being blatantly sold to. We love watching content, but not ads.
So if you’re looking to create video content for your social media ads that people will actually watch, user-generated content (UGC), is a great way to do just that.
When users create the content on behalf of brands, audiences view the videos as more authentic, and therefore more trustworthy. Often, these videos don’t even need to be highly produced—we have plenty of clients running ads using self-style vertical videos shot on mobile phones that are outperforming their studio-shot videos.
Additionally, ads created from UGC are performing better in terms of ROAS.
One of the reasons these types of video ads are so successful is because they look like something your friend might post organically, like an unboxing video or a product review. Audiences have developed a natural aversion to glossy, highly produced content because they feel that it’s coming from a large corporation or ad agency.
So if you’re looking to create video ad campaign that look and feel authentic, they first thing you’ll need to do is obtain UGC. The quickest and easiest way to gather a ton of UGC is by using an influencer network like Insense—we have more than 35,000 creators on our platform experience in making branded video content designed to be used in social media campaigns and advertising.