Change Conversations blog

6 min read

Want your social video to be thumb-stoppingly good?

By Tara Pereira on 12/14/17 10:00 AM


"71% of internet users will access social networking sites regularly this year." source

One of the great challenges and great truths of social media is the quick speed at which everything changes. Whether it is your Twitter feed, the social news cycle or the speed at which each network grows, we can all count on everything changing and changing often. And the latest change is the stong push and focus on native social video by major social media channels.

The makers of Snapchat probably never thought that their app would be used to help document natural disasters like the recent flooding in Houston or the fires in California. The social networks offer a channel and the community defines it. And the compelling and dramatic video that has been shared on Facebook cannot be forgotten.  

Only a few years ago, the online video produced and scheduled was very much in line with styles that had previously been used by business or by television. And while the content changed according to audience and purpose, there were certain truths that were consistent.

But with so much of our video watching taking place online in different channels and networks, video communication is changing. Sometimes it takes a while for a social media network to come into its own. It takes the community to really make it and define it. And that is what makes social media so compelling. 

Thumb-stopping video content

80% of social media time is spent on a mobile device source

I recently heard the term "thumb-stopping" as it relates to good mobile video content. How often have you seen someone staring at their mobile phone? How often do you check your email or Facebook on your mobile device? How often do you scroll?

People are quickly scrolling through their feeds often with their thumb holding their phone in one hand. Your video needs to be interesting enough to get someone to stopping scrolling. You'll need to capture the viewers attention in the first three seconds of the video to keep them watching. Yes seconds. Facebook feeds go by in the blink of an eye. This doesn’t mean you need to put dancing cats on every video, but it does help to use the unexpected in your visual strategy depending on the channel you are using. Consider the imagery you are using. Try to make creative choices that are unexpected but also in line with your message.

Audio silent

Whether you are reading a news story, watching a video on making pasta from scratch, or scrolling through images of your new puppy, your mobile device allows you watch video anywhere but you may not want everyone to hear what you are viewing. Take that into account when producing social video for your organization.

Does your video communicate effectively without sound?  Video in social feeds will not always play sound automatically (unless you've change the settings). By using captioning and strong visuals you can produce a video that is effective with and without sound on. 

Apect Ratio

Square video (1:1) takes up 78% more real estate in a mobile newsfeed than landscape video (16:9) source

    Aspect Ratio 16x9.png   Aspect Ratio1x1.png    

Square video has become social video. While landscape (16:9) is the standard for film and television content, the social media feed and the popularity of mobile viewing has made square the standard for social. Video that has a 1:1 ratio can be used over multiple network platforms. If you are developing a video marketing campaign, take square and landscape into account. Your longer form video for Youtube can take advantage of landscape content, but when you add other social media into the mix, you'll need to consider outputting square video for increased engagement. 

Go native

"Facebook's content-recommendation algorithm gives preference to its own video player when determining what content to show in people's news feeds.." source

For optimal viewership and engagement, upload each video into their native channel instead of sharing from another platform. Take advantage of each channel's features for video. Facebook,Twitter, Linkedin, and Instagram all rank native video higher in their algorithm

Authentic moments

Viewers can tell immediately if a video doesn't feel right. I'm a firm believer in limitations  generating creativity. Social video lends itself to simplicity. Distill your message and visuals down to a very simple idea that viewers can understand in both your visuals and your audio script. Be real and don't overcomplicate your message. Sometimes too much polish and over production can get in the way of your message. Don't be afraid to experiment with how you tell your story — you may discover a new way of connecting with your audience.

Social video best practices for each channel

Each social media network is unique and the more you optimize for that channel, the more successful your video marketing will be.  Here are some quick tips.


  • Optimize for keyword phrases when you upload
  • Longer form video offers opportunities to go deep into a topic
  • Landscape (16:9) aspect ratio
  • Use tags


  • Square (1:1) aspect ratio
  • Produce for silent viewing
  • First three seconds are the most important
  • Don't be afraid to go LIVE but there needs to be a reason.


  • Go for shorter and engaging 
  • Square (1:1) aspect ratio
  • Produce for silent viewing
  • Use hashtags


  • Square (1:1) aspect ratio
  • Produce for silent viewing
  • First three seconds
  • Use hashtags


  • Produce videos that support your business and brand
  • High quality videos will get more views
  • Use LIVE video sparingly - Events, breaking news
  • Use hashtags
  • Show off projects and give others an inside view of your business


  • Go for shorter and engaging 
  • Square (1:1) aspect ratio
  • Simple storytelling is key
  • Take advantage of editing tools 
  • Take chances and have fun - Casual is good


New Call-to-action




Check out our Guide to Inclusive Language to help you communicate
  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.

About Change Conversations

The Change Conversations blog is where changemakers find inspiration and insights on the power of mission-driven communication to create the change you want to see.


Creative Commons

Creative Commons

© 2009- to present, Marketing Partners, Inc. Content on the Change Conversations blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License to share as much as you like. Please attribute to Change Conversations and link to ChangeConversations.

Creative Commons License may not apply to images used within posts and pages on this website. See hover-over or links for attribution associated with each image and licensing information.