Stop us if you have heard this one before: “We want you to make a viral video.” [Cringe]

Executives often direct marketers to create social media videos that will go “viral” or will make a huge impact in one fell swoop. It sounds easy until you actually try it. As you know, there is no guarantee of virality when you are developing video content.

And while it is possible to develop a viral video (if you are skilled and lucky), marketers who stay focused on the simple daily actions of following social media video best practices are much more likely to have viral success than those brands who are swinging for the fences with every video.

How to create engaging social media videos

Regardless of which channels you are focused on, if you understand some core social media video strategies, you can apply your learnings to any video marketing effort so your videos sing the sweet song of success in the hearts of your intended audiences. Sounds nice, right?

We want to help get you there — but you first need to forget the word “viral.” Don’t say it. Don’t think about it. Don’t try it. Got it? OK, then, here we go with 10 simple ways to implement a viral compelling video strategy:

1. Start with your goals.

Your goal should never be to create awesome social media videos — although that is always a good outcome. Why? Well, ask yourself why you want to create awesome content? There should always be a deeper reason why you want to create video content rather than simply because it is fun and cool, and a lot of people can watch it.

Yes, a lot of people could watch a good video, and that’s really neat, but if the development of the video isn’t tied to these three key items, you’re just making content for the sake of making content.

  • Audience: You can make a popular TikTok, but what does that do for the audience you are trying to reach? No, seriously, what do you think a popular video is actually going to do to reach the core audience you need to reach? Are you developing a short-form video for a specific audience, or are you developing a video that you think is fun for everybody? If you are talking to everybody — you’re talking to nobody.
  • Objectives: Why are you making videos in the first place? What problem are you solving for your brand or for your audience by developing video content? Before you even hire a video editor or a social media specialist, you need to understand what problems you are trying to solve by creating video content.
  • Desired outcomes: After you have developed and published a social media video, what should happen next? What do you hope happens for your business? Document this. Because you can create amazing video content that people enjoy and share, but if this content isn’t leading to the desired outcomes you originally documented, what’s the use? As Julian Casablancas said, “Vanity can easily overtake wisdom. It usually overtakes common sense.”

2. Choose a video type.

Once you understand who your audience is, what your objectives are, and what desired outcomes you hope to see, you can then start to consider what kind of social media videos you might want to create.

Nine potential video types include:

  • Q&A: Question — are Q&A videos a great format for sharing a lot of information in a digestible way? Answer — yes!
  • Roundups: Roundups allow you to take the best of the best from several of your videos and package them in a new way.
  • Behind-the-scenes: A good behind-the-scenes video can be an excellent follow-up or pre-awareness tool for the main video you are producing.
  • Interviews: Do you have a message that could benefit from a personal touch? An interview video may be the best way to share.
  • Announcements: If you are excited about a new product or service and you know your audience would be excited about it as well, an announcement video might be perfect.
  • How-tos: Learn how your audience uses your product. Are they using it as intended? Are they missing out on additional ways to use it? Let them know.
  • Product reviews: Rather than reviewing your own products on your channels, consider partnering with an influencer who reviews on his or her channel instead.
  • Live broadcasts: Social platforms often will provide you with additional awareness tools if you use their live broadcast functionalities.
  • Vlogs: Talk about emotions, experiences, and opportunities. Keep the conversation light, but work on your objectives.

3. Tell stories.

Don’t “make videos.” Tell stories. The best and most engaging social media videos are those that help your audience feel a connection to your brand or to an individual. When you develop video content your audience connects with, they will happily engage with it, share it, and promote it in other ways.

If you aren’t sure if you know how to create a video that tells a story, consider some of the following tips to get you started:

  • Tell a story that has a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Be funny. Don’t be afraid to use humor to connect with your users.
  • Think creatively. Think of a creative video you have seen. What did you like about it? How can you expand on it?
  • Show your audience what you are talking about — don’t tell them.
  • Take your time. Don’t just develop the first video idea that comes to mind. Ask others’ opinions about your early ideas.
  • Make your videos concise and easy to consume. Length does not equal success. In fact, the opposite is often true.
  • Focus on telling one solid story in a video rather than two or more. Your story should have a hero your audience roots for and is compelled to watch.

4. Show your personality.

Does your brand have a personality? If not, do you? One way or another, you need to be able to show some personality in your videos if you want audiences to engage with them.

People think showing your personality means that you have to be funny. That simply isn’t true. How many people do you know who are truly funny? Probably not too many. (Dad jokes don’t count.)

Showing your personality may simply mean that you are able to show your warmth, your kindness, your loyalty, your responsiveness, or your integrity.

5. Incorporate user-generated content.

Not only is user-generated content fun to watch, but social media platform algorithms are much more likely to push out your video content when it appears less “buttoned-up” and more natural, authentic, and engaging.

You can encourage your audiences to help develop user-generated social media video content in the following ways:

  • Focus on getting UGC video content on a platform where you already have a robust social media following. People are more likely to develop UGC if they already have a relationship with your brand.
  • Develop a hashtag that encourages your audiences to participate in sharing the message.
  • Don’t be afraid to sweeten the pot with a little incentive now and then. The ultimate goal should be to get users to create video content because they feel compelled to do so, but a giveaway or a discount might be needed from time to time to offer some encouragement.
  • Always credit the creators whose video content you share on your channels. Not only is it good digital manners — but it also gives incentive to others who want to see themselves credited for videos they will create for your UGC efforts.
  • Support a cause. For some non-profits, this is easy. For other brands, consider what your audience is passionate about. Your audience may be more likely to develop a video if they feel a greater sense of purpose.

6. Include calls to action.

Remember when we talked about objectives and desired outcomes? Yeah, well, that is still important. Including some solid calls to action will help you achieve some of the desired outcomes you are looking for. Remember, as much fun as it can be to create an engaging video, it is not the engagement with the video that will typically help you achieve your results — it is the call to action that encourages your audience to do something.

Make sure that you emphasize what is in it for your audience by following through with the call to action.

7. Focus on the first few seconds.

What you say or do in the first few seconds of your video will make or break your opportunity to grab the attention of your desired audience. While it is important to focus on the overall story you want to tell, it’s equally important that your audience is quickly invested in the story you are telling.

Some of the tactics you can follow to get — and keep — attention include:

  • Choose thumbnail images that will make people want to click to watch.
  • Create clear titles that compel potential viewers to want to learn more.
  • Consider using animated text at the start of the video to draw attention.
  • Use an opening shot that intrigues your audience so much that they can’t help but watch longer.

8. Follow short-form video trends.

You may want to create an award-winning masterpiece that makes people laugh, cry, hug their loved ones, etc. However, if you are following social media video trends, you better find a way to do all of that in a few seconds. Thanks to TikTok and subsequent TikTok-esque copies (we’re looking at you Instagram Reels), the whole landscape of social media videos has changed over the last couple of years.

The good news is that the number of trends, filters, and storytelling methods that pop up on TikTok and Instagram on a weekly basis mean that you will never have a shortage of ways to use short-form videos in your video marketing efforts.

9. Use captions.

At this point, if you aren’t using captions on your social media videos, you are missing a great opportunity to engage your viewers. A few reasons why you will want to find ways to use captions on your videos include:

  • Videos with captions have more views, a greater number of impressions, and enhanced engagement.
  • The video content is more inclusive for a larger audience — particularly those who are hard of hearing.
  • Multitaskers will have another element to draw them into the video while you are fighting for their attention from other devices and opportunities.
  • A captioned video makes it easier for you to translate your video content and translate it into other languages.
  • Adding captions enhances search engine optimization within social media platforms. Simply put, the social algorithms will reward you for captioning your videos.
  • Captioning invites viewers to connect more deeply. More than a third of social media video viewers watching with audio muted will turn on the sound to more fully engage with the video content.

10. Let music be part of the message.

Music doesn’t only help you tell your story, but in the case of TikTok and Instagram Reels, it’s often a major character in the story. Allow music to drive the action and the narrative in your social media videos and you will find that people who are searching for trending songs will come across your video content even though they might have never found you otherwise.

Whether you’re looking for funny, inspiring, motivating, or educational video content, ClearVoice’s experts can write it for you. Videos boost brand awareness, improve engagement, drive leads, and help you attract and retain your target audience. Talk to a content specialist today about creating video scripts for your brand.