Are you correctly formatting your videos for social platforms?

video formatting for social platforms

So you tried to use the same video format for all social media platforms. One looks great, but the quality of the others looks terrible. WHAT GIVES?! Why is video formatting for social platforms so complicated?

In short, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for cross-posting videos. Each platform has different aspect ratio requirements, and you must ensure that your video is optimized every time. People routinely try to avoid this step, but the result is a messy, cropped presentation that keeps people from watching. If you think we’re being dramatic, Verizon Digital Media is here to back us up. They found that videos with higher picture quality significantly improve a viewer’s watch time and engagement; relatedly, the time spent viewing video fell by 77% when the video quality dropped.

To ensure that the largest possible audience sees your videos—and hopefully shares—you need to format them for each platform. Don’t worry. Formatting for each medium isn’t as hard as it looks.

How to Format Video for Twitter

Twitter is all about brevity and clarity, so your videos must be short and sweet. The maximum length for a Twitter video is 30 seconds—preferably less. If you go long, you’ll lose your audience. You should also include descriptive text in the tweet itself. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in, and SEO done well helps your video drive more views.

How to format video for Instagram

Instagram is all about visual content, so your videos need to be crisp and stunning. Gritty, unpolished videos can work on Twitter, but not so much on Instagram.

Keep them between three and sixty seconds. Since Instagram doesn’t have a shorter character limit like Twitter or Facebook, you can include a longer description of the video caption. However, check out our tips on how long the posts should be. The caption is a chance to bring your viewer further into your funnel, so use that space well!

To ensure you’re meeting Instagram’s requirements regarding video format, follow along with their requirements when uploading a video.

  • The maximum file size for Instagram videos is 4GB. 
  • The recommended resolution for Instagram videos is 1080×1080 pixels (square). If your video isn’t in this resolution, you’ll need to resize it before uploading. 
  • The recommended aspect ratio for Instagram videos is 1:1 (square). If your video isn’t in this aspect ratio, you’ll need either crop or add black bars to make it square. 
  • Videos on Instagram can also be landscape (horizontal) with an aspect ratio of 16:9, but these will be cropped to fit in square feed posts. For this reason, square or portrait videos are generally best for Instagram.

One final tip: since sound is automatically muted on Instagram videos, make sure your visuals are exciting and engaging enough that users will want to watch even without sound. Closed captioning is your friend! However, you can use the “Sound On” sticker to let people know the video comes with audio.

How to format video for Facebook

With over two billion monthly active users, Facebook is still the largest, and you can’t avoid it. The upside to Facebook is that it supports a wide range of video formats. However, they have strict requirements regarding video formatting—if you don’t follow them, your videos may not appear in users’ feeds. Facebook does allow longer video formats than other platforms, but the short form is king on social media. If you decide to go over the one-minute mark, try to aim for somewhere between two and five minutes. Here are some tips to keep in mind when formatting your videos for Facebook:

  • Facebook recommends uploading a video with square (1:1) or vertical (4:5, 9:16 and 16:9) aspect ratios to optimize size on desktop and mobile screens.
  • They also suggest designing videos with and without sound (enabling captions).

Your video will be more successful if it doesn’t look clunky on the platform.

How to format video for YouTube 

Last—but not least—is the most popular video-sharing site on the internet: YouTube. This video platform has over one billion unique visitors every month, and it is the second largest search engine on the internet, behind Google.

When formatting videos for YouTube, view their recommended upload encoding settings here. Also, make sure your videos are at least 12 frames per second, so they appear smooth and not choppy. Don’t forget to write a great caption that includes SEO keywords for search engines.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to video formatting for social platforms. Each platform has unique features and requirements, so it’s essential to consider those when creating and sharing your videos. Following the tips we outlined above makes the possibilities endless to reach users. 

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