Videos are a phenomenal type of content for repurposing. I’ve said this time and time again because I really do believe that video sits at the very top of the content pyramid.
But video is also powerful in many other ways. For example, it’s arguably the most captivating content type there is.
In fact, digital agency, Zenith Media predicts that we’ll spend on average 100 minutes a day (nearly two hours!) consuming online video content this year. I wonder what portion of that will be on social media…?
Because, let’s face it, nothing stops the social-media-scroll like an eye-catching video. According to research, video is 48% more engaging than any other social media content type!
The power of video on social media is clear. But how can you create more video content for this multitude of platforms?
We know that creating video content from scratch can be time consuming…so, why not repurpose your existing videos instead?
In this post and episode, I dive into the types of videos that are great for repurposing to social media platforms, the nuances between different video choices on the platforms, best practices for repurposing your videos to social media, and the tools you can use to streamline your process.
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.
One last point before we get cracking – this post is going to talk about organic video posting only, not social media video ads. That’s a post for another day!
The best type of videos for social media
Before you go thinking "I don’t have any videos suitable for social media”, I want you to think about all the videos your organization might already have.
These might be:
- Training and tutorial videos
- Explainer videos
- Product videos
- User-generated content
You may see these as internal-only or just suitable for your website. But I want to encourage you to think outside the box.
9 out of 10 video consumers want to see more videos from brands and businesses. So don’t disregard the content you’ve already got.
With a little bit of editing, you can expose the golden content nuggets in these videos – and share them farther and wider than ever before on social media!
The great thing about social media videos is you don’t need to be Steven Spielberg to produce a hit. Forget production values and budgets. Think about what your audience want.
This might be a tip or a piece of advice – and may only be 10 seconds long!
If your video content provides value for your audience, it’s going to be successful.
What social media platforms are best for your videos?
Think about where your audience hang out on social media. Are they LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube or even Pinterest users? Perhaps they’re on multiple platforms!
Before you get into the nitty gritty of dimensions and video length, it’s best to choose the platforms you want to focus on. My recommendation is to go for the ones where you’ll get in front of your ideal audience.
If you’re building a repurposing process from the ground up, start with one or two platforms, and think about branching out once you’re comfortable.
Here’s a quick rundown of the types of organic video available on each platform:
- Native video – up to 15 minutes long. Anyone can share these.
- Live video – only available to those who apply and need to be created using a 3rd party broadcast tool or custom stream (RTMP).
- Native video – up to 240 minutes (4 hours!) long.
- Live video – available to everyone.
- Stories – vertical videos, broken up into 15 second segments, that disappear after 24 hours. These are available to view in a separate carousel-style feed (similar to Snapchat).
- Native video – up to 60 minutes long (formerly IGTV).
- Live video – available to everyone.
- Stories – vertical videos, broken up into 15 second segments, that disappear after 24 hours. These are available to view in a separate carousel-style feed.
- Reels – vertical videos, up to 1 minute long. Again, these are viewable in a separate feed, but can also appear in your main grid too.
- Native video – up to 2 minutes and 20 seconds long.
- Native video – vertical, up to 10 minutes long.
- Live video – also vertical and available to everyone.
- Native video – up to 15 minutes long
Let’s get into some best practices for repurposing your video to social media…then I’ll move onto feature-specific need-to-knows.
What does great video content look like on social media?
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.
According to a survey of U.S. consumers by Verizon Media, 80% of consumers are more likely to watch an entire video when captions are available.
So, captions make videos better and more accessible for everyone.
You can use a tool to generate captions and edit these onto your videos yourself, or you can use the platform’s own editing tool which may add them for you. Instagram Reels and TikTok both currently have this as an option.
Keep reading for more on how we add captions at the bottom of this post!
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 15 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, 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.
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.
Of course, you can add extra context in the text you post alongside your video. This is a great space for adding a call to action, as well as any other info your audience need to get the most value from your social media video.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the specifics and my top tips for each platform…
What you should know before repurposing 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
I’m including live video in this post because you can always take the topic of your existing videos and repurpose them into the interactive audience experience that is live video.
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 repurposing 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 reels and stories under 1 minute, other videos under 60 minutes
Video options on Instagram are almost constantly changing, but here are the main things you need to know.
Reels and stories are best kept under one minute long and vertical. Stories will automatically chop your video up into 15 second segments.Other video posted to your feed can be any dimension, but square or vertical are best.
I’ve written about Instagram Video (formerly IGTV) before if you’d like to know more, about repurposing your video to this feature specifically! Also, be sure to check out How to Grow Your Business on Instagram with Sue B. Zimmerman.
3. 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.
Unfortunately, this means that Instagram live has more limited repurposing opportunities compared to other platforms.
What you should know before repurposing 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!
What you should know before repurposing videos to LinkedIn
1. Upload in square, landscape or portrait
You can post native LinkedIn video in horizontal, vertical, or square.
Square or horizontal videos are optimal, as LinkedIn will automatically add panels to the sides of your vertical video, so it doesn’t take up too much real-estate in the main feed. But this doesn’t affect the viewer’s experience.
2. Keep it under 15 minutes
LinkedIn allows you to post videos up to 15 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, which may affect your post’s reach.
4. Go live
Going live on LinkedIn is a little different to other platforms. You have to be an approved LinkedIn Live broadcaster first and use third-party tools to get your live content out there.
Find out how to apply to be a LinkedIn Live broadcaster here.
Once you’re approved, you’ll need to choose a tool to stream with. Then you can explore the LinkedIn broadcaster features to help you stream awesome live content.
All the up-to-date information about the process and approved tools you need is here on the LinkedIn Help site.
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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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, TikTok, and maybe even more in future.
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:
- Create a square canvas for your video in your video editing software (a 1:1 aspect ratio)
- Insert your original video and place it in the center
- 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…)
- 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.
- Use a service like Rev to generate captions for your video
- 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.
- Choose to ‘burn in’ your subtitles, this way the subtitles will always be visible on your video
- 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!