Tips for Creating a Measurable Video Strategy Across Facebook, YouTube and Other Platforms

With 8 billion average daily video views on Facebook, 4 billion+ on YouTube and one hour of video uploaded to YouTube ever second, the path ahead for brand communicators seems clear: commit to video. But with that much video in the social ecosystem, how can you compete, especially when videos taken during a Beyoncé concert September 10 showing a pre-arranged marriage proposal for her dance captain receive more than 5 million views? We asked PR pros with video expertise and restricted the conversation to brand video on Facebook and YouTube.

Keeping Costs Low

Creating engaging, yet budget-wise videos is a favorite topic for Elaine Seward, social media director, American Chemical Society (ACS). There are “basic things you can do” to make modest-budget videos look better, she says.

First, “clean the shot.” Remove anything that will distract from the main object in the frame. “Take your time on this.”

Audio “is unforgiving…you can have good video and bad audio and you’ll lose an audience,” so be aware of sound from air conditioners, car traffic, etc. “Adjust [volume] levels. [Viewers] don’t want to turn up or down the volume” on their devices. Also make sure volume is consistent: avoid having the opening loud and the rest of the video far softer.

When editing, get rid of pauses. “People have minimal attention spans…they don’t want to sit through 30 seconds of you setting up a camera,” she says. Another tip: if there’s a pause during a talking head segment, splice it out, of course, but to avoid having it look awkward, right after the splice moving the person’s image in the frame can “make [an awkward splice] look a little more natural,” she says. For editing she uses Adobe Premier Pro. “I love it, it’s super easy and works with Adobe’s After Effects, which we also use a lot.”

Elizabeth Sorrell
Elizabeth Sorrell

National Audubon Society social media manager Elizabeth Sorrell praises inexpensive video, too. “I can’t underemphasize how well smartphone videos work on social.” She touts editing features on smartphones and “inexpensive licensing options” at sites such as Shutterstock and iStock, whose “high-quality clips” can be had for less than $100.

A tip: one of the biggest mistakes brands make is failing to optimize for mobile, Sorrell says. “90% of Facebook’s daily active users are accessing the platform via mobile devices. A video that’s gorgeous on a large editing bay monitor might not translate when condensed to a small screen.” Be aware of “sweeping shots and dramatic landscapes” that don’t do well “when scaled down” to mobile. Tight shots that “viewers can instantly understand are more likely to get people to stop scrolling and watch the rest of your video.”

Producing Videos Followers Will Crave

A key to content strategy, Seward and Sorrell agree, is “asking your audience what it wants,” Seward says. “It sounds obvious,” adds Sorrell, “but do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.” This means you have to “spend time analyzing your metrics, which can be an easy step to skip.” Seward adds that a common mistake is “ignoring your audience [by not measuring and interacting]...we had a really good conversation with our fans...our audience is pretty smart and asked for more science. So we did that.” ACS surveys its followers online, and also at the end of videos.

Elaine Seward
Elaine Seward

The two emphasize measurement should extend beyond raw likes and shares. “We’re looking at the engagement rate, and seeing at what point people are dropping off from the video,” Sorrell says. Like Sorrell, Seward tracks engagement and “retention time,” as opposed to a 10-second view, “which is what Facebook [counts].” She likes YouTube’s Average View Duration, which informs you when people stopped watching your video. “We found people dropping off at the end of our we continued to talk about the video topic while the credits were rolling.” Another tip to keep viewers watching at the end is using a call to action. “We asked people to respond to questions” about the video topic and asked viewers what topics they’d like to see in future videos. “People respond much better when you ask them directly to do something,” she says.

Content: For Seward, a guiding principle is “finding one cool takeaway that nobody will forget.” Sorrell’s version: “Focus on what distinguishes you.” O.K., but how do you make that happen? “At Audubon, we’re the bird people, so we’d be remiss to create videos not true to that.” At ACS, a video begins with an idea that’s then modified over weeks. Once a draft script is created, it’s sent to a scientist “to make sure the science is correct,” Seward says. For example, the team decided in July it wanted to do something for Apple’s annual September announcement. That broad idea resulted in a 3-minute, 47-second video called “How to Keep Your Phone Battery Charged Longer.” Posted on YouTube September 13, it had 23,000 views within two days.


Editor’s Note: Seward and Sorrell will speak at PR News’ Social Media Conference & Crisis Management Workshop, in NYC, October 19-20. For information:

This content appeared originally in PR News Pro, September, 19, 2016. For subscription information, please visit: