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How to Repurpose Videos for Social Media

How to Repurpose Videos for Social Media

Over the last few weeks, my team and I have noticed a lot of people repurposing videos for social media. Special credit has to go to businesses who have never used video as part of their content strategy before! As a content repurposing geek, nothing could make me happier… BUT… we’ve seen some predictable mistakes cropping up!

Most notably, we’ve seen plenty of videos that haven’t been repurposed in the right way for social media.

Please don’t get me wrong, everyone is doing their best to adapt right now, and trying is 1,000% better than not trying.

I just want everyone to give their content the best chance to perform brilliantly online. That means making sure we’re producing it in the right way.

So, I was chatting with my team about this the other week and we all agreed – hey, we know a bit about repurposing and resizing videos for social media… Why stand idly by and let well-meaning businesses share videos on social media that don’t do them any justice?

We want to lend a helping hand.

If you want to know how to perfectly repurpose videos for social media, take my hand and let’s go!

I wanted to cover the basics here, but what’s basic to some people is expert to others.

If you aren’t sure about any of the phrases, terminologies, or concepts referenced here, don’t sweat it! Send me a message on social media and I can run through some of the details.

What does great video content look like on social media?

There are lots of ways to repurpose videos for social media, but the main ones I want to cover in this post are:

  • Stories (short clips that disappear after 24 hours) – we see these on Instagram, Facebook and, coming soon, LinkedIn have announced their version of Stories soon to be launched
  • Teaser videos (clips from longer videos) shared as main posts on all social media platforms

When it comes to repurposing your videos for social media and sharing them, best practice in general looks like:

  • Taking into account the optimal dimensions for videos on each social media platform
  • Adding captions
  • Paying attention to the duration of videos allowed on platforms
  • Treating your videos as stand-alone content

Funnily enough, I have observed people making mistakes when it comes to sharing videos on social media in all 4 of these areas, and have listed them in terms of the ‘most mistakes observed’!

Get your dimensions right

If you don’t take into account that videos can be recorded in different dimensions that aren’t necessarily fit for purpose for each social media platform, you run into a couple of issues…

You can’t post the video at all.

Or, you can post the video, but it just looks terrible.

For example, a video that was filmed in portrait mode that is shared on YouTube (a landscape platform) will have a big space either side of the video and just look really odd. Like this…

Similarly, some videos filmed in landscape don’t fare very well shared as a square video on Instagram or portrait in Stories.

If you want to repurpose your videos for social media the right way, every time, then you need a few of the tips and tricks that I lay out later in this article. There isn’t a quick fix, other than stacking a few different cameras and phones on top of each other and trying to press record at the same time on them… I wouldn’t fancy my chances, personally!

Use captions for everybody’s sake

As well as not looking great, lots of videos are being uploaded with the glaring issue of not having subtitles/captions.

Many people don’t see captions as essential, but you’re leaving hearing-impaired users in the dark without them… and potentially many more of your viewers, too.

You see, many platforms (e.g. Facebook and LinkedIn) really do benefit from you adding them because most users on their sites view videos with no sound on.

So, captions make videos better and more accessible for everyone.

Get the duration right

Paying attention to the duration is important. I’m about to go into more detail on this, but this boils down to knowing that, if you can only post ten minutes of video on LinkedIn, you’re never going to be able to post the entirety of that 2 hour epic interview you just recorded.

You need to think outside of the box in order to share it in a way that suits each platform.

The best content is platform-specific – just as a bikini pic is good for Instagram, not LinkedIn, there are certain types and variations of video content that perform better on each platform.

Make sure your videos make sense on their own

And then we have the notion of breaking down your longer-form videos into shorter, snackable videos for social media, that are good, valuable content in their own right.

Any short video you create cannot require the context of the rest of the video to be understood. Otherwise, you’re going to be sharing content that doesn’t add up for anyone who hasn’t seen the original version. The only thing worse than going quiet on your audience is confusing them!

However you create and share your videos, they must inform, educate or entertain a viewer. The ways we do that are different on each platform, so a copy and paste approach simply does not work.

How to Repurpose Videos for Social Media

Having a content strategy so that you understand very clearly what your key message is on each platform helps a lot. When you break videos down, it is done so in a way that aligns with sharing your key message.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the specifics and my top tips for each platform…

What you should know before uploading videos to Facebook

1. Upload your videos in square dimensions

You can post landscape videos on Facebook, but square is best. If you want to know a bit more about why square comes out on top against landscape, this article from Buffer is really helpful.

Read on for my tips on how to repurpose landscape videos into square.

2. Not too long, not too short

The maximum length your videos can be is 4 hours… but people don’t go to Facebook to watch feature-length content! You’re much better off sharing videos that are a few minutes long.

In fact, Facebook itself states that they “prioritize longer videos (three minutes or more) that inspire people to continue watching”.

There’s a time and a place for your dreams of being the next Scorsese… Facebook isn’t it!

3. Film stories in portrait OR repurpose videos into portrait

Stories may only last for 24 hours, but they are perfect for capturing people’s attention on the fly. They are almost always viewed on mobile, so uploading in portrait means your stories will be optimized for mobile viewing.

If you want to repurpose your non-vertical videos so that you can share them in stories, read on… we’re going to get into the details of how to this below.

4. Choose your orientation before you go Live

Live video is a great way to connect with your audience in the moment, but it’s important you decide your orientation before you start filming, especially if you are going to repurpose your livestream. If you are on a mobile device, decide how you are going to hold or position your phone, as you can’t change it once you’ve started.

I really recommend making sure your livestreams are filmed in landscape vs portrait. This opens up a whole world of repurposing opportunities. To find out more about repurposing livestream check out How to Repurpose Facebook Live Videos with Ian Anderson Gray and Creating Live Experiences with Your Content.

What you should know before uploading videos to Instagram

1. Upload your videos for the grid in square dimensions

The way Instagram organizes its feed – and the fact that it is a mobile-first platform – means that square videos are the best for the platform.

Never fear, you can post videos filmed in landscape by repurposing them into square videos.

2. Keep posts and stories under 1 minute, IGTV videos under 10 minutes

It’s important to know that Instagram only lets you upload videos that are under 1 minute to the main grid.

Anything longer than one minute can be posted to the platform, but will need to be posted as an IGTV video.

Simple! Well, not quite…. because IGTV prefers vertical video.

So, if you go past the one minute mark, you’ll need to either edit it down and post to your main grid or repurpose it into a vertical format and post to IGTV.

The video can still appear in your main grid, as you can share a 1-minute preview of your IGTV as a post. A really neat feature in my opinion.

I’ve written about IGTV before if you’d like to know more, and be sure to check out How to Grow Your Business on Instagram with Sue B. Zimmerman.

3. Post stories and IGTV in portrait

Just the same as with Facebook, Instagram Stories are 15 second, vertical videos that are only viewable for 24 hours. You can post 100 stories at most (but please don’t get anywhere close to this!). If you upload a video that is longer than 15 secs, Instagram will automatically slice it up into 15 sec snippets (up to one minute, making four stories).

IGTV is a vertical-first platform but no longer restricted to vertical only anymore. You can upload landscape videos now – check out my article I linked on the previous point for more on IGTV.

4. Go Live in portrait

You can go live on Instagram for a maximum of one hour (but you can start again straight after if you’re really keen).

As with Facebook, this is great if you want to connect with your audience in a specific moment, but because Instagram Lives display the same as Stories, you need to stick to portrait (vertical) filming to give your viewers the best experience.

Instagram/IGTV Live has limited repurposing opportunities compared to other platforms.

What you should know before uploading videos to Twitter

1. Upload in square or landscape

Square video is a bit of a panacea when it comes to social media content. This format lets you occupy this most real estate, but it isn’t quite as essential on Twitter as it is on Facebook and Instagram. Landscape is your next best choice.

2. 140 seconds (2 minutes 20 seconds) long at most

Twitter lets you upload videos that are up to 140 seconds long. You may have noticed that every platform has a different limit – very helpful for content creators!

3. No story-style features at the time of writing

In March 2020, Twitter announced it would be trialling ‘Fleets’ – their own version of stories. The feature hasn’t launched publicly yet, so we there’s nothing concrete to share about optimal content for Fleets.

What you should know before uploading videos to LinkedIn

1. Upload in square or landscape

Whatever you do, don’t upload in vertical. LinkedIn is not geared for mobile, and your vertical videos will get cropped into square in the news feed.

2. Keep it under 10 minutes

LinkedIn allows you to post videos up to 10 minutes long, which is a good amount of time for the of platform it is. People aren’t on LinkedIn for super-snappy vox pops, they’re after genuinely insightful business content.

3. Go native!

Upload your videos directly to LinkedIn, not by sharing a link from another site like YouTube or Vimeo. This advice applies to all the platforms, but is especially pertinent for LinkedIn, as it does not have an embedded video player feature for other sites. Your videos will appear as an ugly link that points people away from LinkedIn. Not fun!

Different rules for every platform

Clearly, juggling between all of these different requirements is something you need to consider if you want to share the same video content across them all. It is entirely possible, via careful and considered repurposing.

Knowing how to properly repurpose videos for social media is essential if you want to create the best viewing experience for your audience.

So, how do you do it?

How to repurpose horizontal videos to vertical

If you try to repurpose a horizontal video into a vertical one by simply zooming in… it’s not going to look good.

But the good news is that there are clever workarounds to repurpose your horizontal videos into great vertical content.

  1. Create a new project in your video editing software (like iMovie, Final Cut Pro, or Filmora) with an aspect ratio set to an Instagram Stories preset (or 1920 x 1080 if there isn’t one). You should now have a lovely blank, vertical canvas.
  1. Edit your video to the appropriate length and then place it in the center of your new vertical canvas.

Now, you’ve got a landscape video with two white borders at the top and bottom… Good job we’re not done yet!

  1. Create a background image for your video canvas – get creative, but don’t go too wild. You want people to look at your video, not your design skills! Consider adding a short, attention-grabbing video title at the top and using your logo or brand colors.
  1. Embed the image into your video project and… Tada! Look at that, a beautiful vertical video.

Your finished product should look something like this…

This is a super-simplified version of my full guide that explains how to repurpose horizontal videos into vertical ones, so if you need any more pointers on this, check out that in-depth article! If you want the full shebang, then you want The Content 10x Toolkit. It’s got everything you need to know about maximizing your video content – with easy-to-follow steps and practical walk-throughs.

Get this down to a fine art and you can start repurposing landscape videos for Instagram and Facebook Stories, IGTV and TikTok.

How to repurpose horizontal videos to square 

It is possible to zoom in on horizontal videos to make them square, but they can look distorted and this won’t work if the video requires the full width of the screen to be understood/provide the best viewer experience.

So, it’s a good idea to maintain the landscape dimensions (or thereabouts – it should be okay to zoom in a bit) by putting your landscape video into a square canvas.

Using pretty much the same technique as with repurposing landscape videos to vertical:

  1. Create a square canvas for your video in your video editing software (a 1:1 aspect ratio)
  2. Insert your original video and place it in the center
  3. Create a branded template that fills the white space with your branding and other essentials. I’m a big fan of putting a video title at the top of the video – and captions are essential, too. (I’ll get onto them on a second…)
  4. Embed your template image into your video project

Following this process, you should get something that looks like this:

Now, let’s take a look at captions.

How to add captions to your videos

Captions are a must-have on your videos. Accessibility is so important, but this has only been amplified by the fact 85% of Facebook users (and similar on other platforms) watch videos without sound.

Your face might be beautiful, but it won’t be enough to keep people around if they don’t know what you’re saying!

Thankfully, captions are not too hard to add to videos.

  1. Use a service like Rev to generate captions for your video
  2. Take the .SRT file (this is the file type captions come in) and add it to your video with the software we mentioned earlier. You can also use Kapwing, Handbrake, or Submerge to add these ‘hardcoded’ subtitles to your video.
  3. Choose to ‘burn in’ your subtitles, this way the subtitles will always be visible on your video
  4. Export your video – it should now come with the captions automatically displayed

Rev have shared a fantastic guide to burning captions in Handbrake. Take a look if you want a closer look at this process!

If you want more detail on creating and adding captions to your videos, I’ve got a really in-depth walk-through for the process in the Content 10x Toolkit.

Ready to repurpose your videos?

If this sounds like a lot, that’s okay! I’ve mentioned a lot! A quick recap of the essentials is:

  • Make sure you’re sharing videos in the right format for the right platform
  • Think about how people will watch videos (e.g. in Stories or in a news feed, with sound on or sound off)
  • Done is better than perfect – if you choose to repurpose videos for social media, you’re doing a great thing! Keep at it and you’ll get even better at it over time.

If you need more help or easy-to-follow, easy-to-action steps for video repurposing, I cover every process in great depth in The Content 10x Toolkit. It’s got everything you might need to masterfully repurpose your videos for every platform, in every way, every time.

If you only want to know about repurposing your videos for social media, then you can download my How to Repurpose Horizontal Videos for Social Media guide instead! It’s totally FREE!

Good luck – I’ll see you on a Story somewhere!


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