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Introduction to Social Video

by Margaret Penney | July 29, 2016

Social Video is a broad term that can include most video created that has a social aspect, however for the purposes of this article we are going to be talking about the social video we see now at social media sites like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Each of these social networks realize the importance of this medium and now have their own video features.

Social video is different than viral video and its goals are different too. Social video is not about creating the next big Internet star, especially if you are using video to explain or support a product. Social Video can be used effectively in some very important yet almost simple ways. Outlined below are some examples of successful applications of social video.

Product Debuts

If you have a new product you’re launching, social video can be used to unbox the product, introduce it and show it in use. A wonderful thing about video is it can instantaneously present a lot more information about a product than a picture in a matter of seconds. A sense of scale and weight can be demonstrated with social video. You can place props next to the product as well to further give the viewer a sense of the product’s actual look and feel. Product debut videos are quite commonly seen on sites like Instagram here is an example from Ben & Jerry’s.

Brand Awareness Videos

Another key way to use social video is to develop brand awareness through short jump-cut videos that give the viewer a succinct impression of the image, style, and message of a brand.  Pantone recently presented an effective example of this kind of video with their color series from the Pantone Color Institute. Take a look at this social video about the Grey created by Jason Wu.


Brand awareness videos work because they can tell a story in a short format. If you run a culture-driven organization who is putting skateparks in deserving neighborhoods or if you organize a triathlon that gives its proceeds to cancer research, a jump-cut video montage with some impactful text, sound and imagery would work as a social video project for your organization.

Process Video

What’s really nice about the Pantone video is it presents a visual story of a brand and also delves a bit into the process of making a color. Even if you don’t have a budget for a premium video production there are clever ways you can demonstrate a process with social video. Reformation, an eco-conscious clothing brand created a creative video vignette about the dress sketch process, that is a good example of how social media can be used to visualize a process.



Sharing is Caring

One thing to keep in mind with Social Video is you want to make it easy to share, so design it that way–include an embedded button at the end that prompts people to share the video. The goal is to have people find it interesting enough to share it and so it’s key to clearly label it as shareable.

How to Videos

A video type that is shared often is the How To video. How To videos are similar to process videos yet they clearly demonstrate the steps to actually make something. Companies like Tasty have been incredibly successful through the creation of fast-paced videos in rich color with bold infographics that show people how to cook in a no-fuss-no-muss way.

You can use the How To video format even if you aren’t a ‘How To’ marketing company. Your video content does not necessarily have to be about your product or service, but it should involve your product or service, and be engaging and interesting to your audience. Lululemon’s how to is a good example of this kind of How To video.

Make it Short

Social Videos should be very short, at most 15 to 20 seconds. Think of the video as a vignette and have the message be succinct and effective. Social media is more like tapas, not a full meal. Social media is not a Ted Talks, those are for YouTube or Vimeo. Some social videos is so concise, it appears as a kind of still life brand portrait with some subtle movement, like in this Illy Coffee video. Projects like this are like the haiku of video narrative, they have the essence of a moment, a story, a brand.



Margaret Penney is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Margaret is a teacher, designer, writer and new media artist and founder of Hello Creative Co.


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