How do you create social media videos for multiple platforms?

Social media has changed the way video is distributed. While standard 15s and 30s spots for broadcast television still thrive, these new platforms have become essential. When launching a media campaign you must consider Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, Youtube, and more. However, unlike television, social media sites do not have one standardized format. Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses, engagement patterns, and video configurations. Even within a platform, there are multiple ways to launch a video.

Posting a video on Instagram

Woman browsing and posting great videos on InstagramFor example, on Instagram you can deliver your video as a post, story, or reel. The video can also be sponsored or simply uploaded to your official Instagram account. While much of the work to take advantage of each platform is done in post-production, key decisions in pre-production will help set you up for success. 

Social Media Video Aspect Ratios

Often, a media campaign will target multiple platforms, each supporting different aspect ratios. Television, of course, is 16:9, TikTok 9:16, and Instagram supports a variety of formats including 4:5 and 1:1. To get the most out of your shoot, it is important to decide which platform will have priority. If the video will not air on television, you might simply frame for 9:16. But if you know you are shooting for both television and TikTok, it is important to shoot 16:9 in 4k so you can easily reframe in post. It is also helpful to use guidelines while shooting to ensure the most important elements of the shot will still register in your most constrained format. 

Choosing the best image size for Instagram

Aspect ratio has another subtle but important impact. On platforms such as Instagram, the aspect ratio will affect the screen real estate of your video. If you upload a post as 1:1, it will display as a square box, while 4:5 will display as a vertical rectangle that takes up almost the entire screen. Consider the impact this might have on user engagement. In a sea of vertical rectangles, a square might stand out as unique and might also better highlight the video’s caption. However, an aspect ratio of 4:5 will be bigger, making your video harder to miss.

Choosing the Optimal Duration for Social Media videos

Because social media is unshackled from the regulations of broadcast, the duration of your video is flexible. However, just because there are no hard rules doesn’t mean there aren’t implicit ones. Online audiences can have short attention spans, especially for sponsored ads appearing on their social media feeds.Engaged family watches Youtube commercial ad before video Often, users are one click or one scroll away from skipping an ad entirely. Some platforms, such as YouTube, require ads to be watched either in full or in part. For example, it is common for YouTube videos to allow the viewer to skip an ad after five seconds. A key question to ask is, does your video entice with its first moments? Ideally, these first moments will be engaging enough to keep the user watching. However, putting the product or brand front and center right away can ensure you enter the mindshare of the user even if they choose not to continue watching. 

Movie trailers on YouTube

Movie trailers have been particularly skillful at adapting to the new social media landscape. Since most people will not watch a full trailer on YouTube before the video they actually want to see, trailers often begin with a five-second mini-trailer. This mini-trailer communicates the essentials quickly, and also entices viewers to watch the full ad. Another perk is that these first five seconds can be distributed as a complete video on other platforms.

Keeping up to date on video length best practices

When deciding the length of your video, don’t just trust your instincts. Research user behavior on each platform to see what length videos have the most engagement. Keep in mind that social media algorithms change frequently and what was true in the past may no longer be, so it is important to continually monitor trends and adjust plans accordingly.

captions and sound For Social Media

Many social media sites are designed to be used on a phone. However people often use phones in public settings and may not be able to turn their volume on. This creates scenarios where a sound or narration-driven video can have its effectiveness completely neutralized.

The benefits of music on TikTok

Some apps are more likely to be used with the sound turned on than others. TikTok, which is known for integrating music and video, has a higher percentage of users who have their sound on while browsing. According to a Kantar Study, 88% percent of TikTok users believe sound is “essential to the TikTok experience”. In fact, ads on TikTok with sound do 2.2x better than ads without sound. Clearly, sound is vital to a media presence on TikTok, and you can have high confidence users will be engaging with the sound in your videos.

Captions on Facebook videos

On the other end of the spectrum, 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound according to Hubspot. Therefore, videos for Facebook need to engage viewers even with the audio muted.

Sound on Instagram stories

In the middle of the spectrum are apps like Instagram, where 15% of users never use sound when browsing stories, 29% always use sound, and 56% sometimes use sound according to Hubspot. On Instagram, it’s worth the effort to cater to both “sound on” and “sound off” users.

See below for a great example of how a video can cater to both audio enthusiasts and those who keep their volume off:

The benefits of Social media Platform Integration

Social media platforms often have unique features that can only be applied at the upload stage of the video. This includes adding tags, on-screen text, clickable links, callouts, interactive polls, filters, and more. By taking advantage of these features on a per-platform basis, your video will feel more like a natural part of the browsing experience. The ability to add clickable links is also a great way to activate users, driving them directly to your site or product page. This level of engagement is simply not possible on television.

Maintaining brand consistency on social media

However, too fully integrating platform features can undermine your own brand image. Going overboard on text, tags, etc. can look garish and can especially diminish the impact of brands with a refined aesthetic. Sometimes the simple and subtle use of social media features is the best choice.

The advantage of crossposting

Features unrelated to the content of the post can also come in handy. By harnessing the power of crossposting, our video for Madame Tussauds was able to reach over 800k viewers across both Madam Tussauds’s and Stan Lee’s Instagram accounts:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Stan Lee (@therealstanlee)

Finding success on social media 

Finally, consider another video we did for Madame Tussauds. There was a version of this video that was about twice the length. However, to better align with the expectations of TikTok, we cut down the video to its essentials, creating a sharable and easy to consume post. We also chose a cool and modern music track, and cut to the beat to take advantage of TikTok’s sonic emphasis. The result, a video with almost 1 million views at the time of posting:
@madametussaudsusa Not one, but TWO wax figures for @Bad Bunny !! #badbunnypr #badbunny🐰 ♬ original sound – MadameTussaudsUSA

There are many factors to consider when developing a cross-platform media campaign. While there is some luck involved, the most successful campaigns carefully plan their strategy in advance and make researched-based decisions. Although it is indeed extra work to customize a video for each major platform, it pays dividends that are well worth the effort. There are more ways to connect with your audience than ever before, and by considering the factors outlined above, you can use the available platforms to their potential.


If you have questions about anything related to video production, please contact us anytime.  We’ve produced thousands of successful videos over the past couple of decades and we love sharing our knowledge!

To find out more about the video production and social media services offered by Indigo Productions, please visit our website. You can also get in touch with us through our contact page or call us with any questions at: (212) 765-5224.

Scroll to Top

Your email has been sent!
An Indigo team member will be in touch shortly.

To exit, click the X in the upper right corner, or anywhere outside of this popup.
Tel: 212-765-5224

You can phone us as well at 212-765-5224