When it comes to the most important online marketing techniques for businesses, video has dominated for the past few years now.

And nothing has changed there now that we move into a new year. Video is still huge—and growing.

Video will account for 80% of consumer internet traffic by 2019, and most businesses have cottoned onto the fact that videos are where it’s at—they now publish an average of 18 videos each month.

But while you can use videos almost anywhere, like explainer videos on your homepage, they often work best on social media. Users of Facebook, Twitter, and the rest simply love watching videos. Videos are quick and easy to engage with, and they catch the eye more than text.

So how exactly do you go about creating a fantastic social video that stands the best chance of getting engagement and generating leads?

Here are some of our best tips, all of which are easy to put into practice to boost your results from social video in 2018.

Include a Clear Call to Action

Like most types of sales and marketing content, a call to action should be considered mandatory in your marketing videos.

The reason we’re starting with this point is that it’s often a good idea to decide exactly what you want viewers to do once they have watched the video before you create the script.

A CTA doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, simple often works best. This could just be a sentence at the end of the video telling the viewer what you want them to do now (head to your store, read your blog post, etc).

Here are some ideas for improving your CTAs to get more engagement from viewers.

Give Each Video a Goal

You also need a focal point for each video you create, a single goal upon which you can build the video.

To help you do this, try to summarize your video in one single key point. What is the purpose of the video? Being absolutely clear on this before you start to create the video will make the whole process a lot easier.

It also helps to make videos more shareable. A video that can be summarized simply and clearly in a few words makes it easy to understand and more compelling—exactly the sort of thing that gets shared.

Tell a Compelling Story

The best videos are the ones that tell a story. In fact, a lot of social media marketing revolves around stories. Stories are emotional. Human beings are hard-wired to listen to stories, which means people will automatically tune into your video when you start telling a story.

Stories in videos can be as simple as introducing a problem and then showing how someone has overcome that problem with a smart solution.

Videos are the perfect format for telling stories in marketing because you can use music and language to work the emotions. Anything that involves persuading people to act needs to pull the right emotional levers, so by making your video sad, happy, or funny—and introducing conflict—you can encourage more shares and more engagement.

Get Straight to the Point

Of all the strategies involved in creating a great social video, perhaps the most important is to get straight to the point.

Social videos need to capture the attention of viewers—and fast. That means no long introductions and no time wasting while you get to the main point. You need to get right into the action immediately,

If you go beyond a few seconds without anything interesting happening, you might lose your viewers. So make the first few seconds interesting, really grab their attention, and they will hang around to watch the rest.

Many videos now autoplay on social media, and this is a great way to capture attention. But videos can still easily be ignored, so you want to capture the viewer’s attention in the first three seconds or so.

One way to enhance this is to upload a custom thumbnail that will stand out while people are viewing their feeds. You could also add a short post update to explain what the video is about and make it even more compelling.

Also, keep the video short overall. A few minutes is often long enough. 56% of videos published in the last year were under two minutes, but many videos are 30 seconds or less. Remember, people don’t have time to hang around—they want instant gratification.

Know Your Platform

Where you post your video will affect how it is shot. The most important difference is whether you shoot in portrait or landscape.

Landscape is the most common format, but if you will post your video to Instagram Stories or Snapchat, you’ll want to shoot a portrait video.

But it goes beyond how you shoot the video. All social channels are different, and while some videos might work well on some platforms, they could completely flop on another.

You might need a very different approach to the same video for each channel where you plan to launch it. It might be a case of coming up with a concept and then shooting different videos for each platform.

Make It Look Good

You do not need to invest in thousands of dollars worth of equipment to create a professional-looking video—this is one of the many benefits of video marketing.

But you should take precautions to ensure that it at least looks good.

One of the basics is to use a good video camera like the ones found on a top-end smartphone. You should also invest in a tripod to film your videos to make them easier to view.

A good external mic is also a great idea, especially if dialogue is crucial. You don’t want viewers missing key information, and mics are one area where smartphones often are not up to scratch. An external mic doesn’t have to be expensive, even for a good one, so this could be a good investment.

Another way to ensure a professional finish is to edit each video after filming it. People don’t expect a masterpiece, but there will almost certainly be places where it can be improved, and a few simple editing techniques can make all the difference.

Use Subtitles

People will almost certainly be watching your social videos in noisy environments like on the train on the way to work, and there is a good chance they cannot hear the audio properly.

As such, you should always use subtitles to make sure they can follow the video even if they cannot hear it.

Most videos will actually be watched without any sound (especially when the viewers should be doing something else, like working!), so consider subtitles a must.

Come Up with a Compelling Title & Description

The title may not be part of the video, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. The title is often the first thing that people will see, so you need to put in some effort to make it compelling.

People will often glance at the title and description when deciding whether to watch the video, so always optimize them.

An additional bonus is that it can help improve discoverability to get more eyes on your video in the first place.

Upload Natively

Buffer claims that videos uploaded directly to a social network get more interaction and engagement than links that are shared. So rather than uploading to YouTube and sharing the link, upload each video individually.

Sure, this is the service Buffer provides, so you might think that they would make such a claim. But they highlight research from Quintly that suggests that from over 6 million Facebook posts, native videos got 109.67% more interaction that videos shared from YouTube and nearly 480% more shares—so that’s got to be worth experimenting with.

Go Live

Live videos are a whole different area, but they are something you will probably want to experiment with.

People love live videos. These videos come across as less planned and more impromptu, and this can help them to be more engaging.

They are not for every business, but if you can think of a way to incorporate live videos into your strategy, it’s well worth trying out.

Find Out What’s Working

Perhaps the most important thing of all is to find out what is working in your videos. Don’t just post and hope—track the performance of your videos so you know how they are performing.

Facebook’s Page Insights, for example, can provide you with a wealth of information. Find out how many views your videos have got, how many minutes were viewed, average watch time, and more.

This will give you a great idea about which videos are doing the best, and you can then use them to help with your future videos because you will have a better idea about what works and what doesn’t.

Promote Your Videos with Paid Ads

Sometimes you might have a great video, but you don’t know how to get it in front of more people. For that, you might consider paying to promote your videos.

Use Facebook’s powerful advertising features to promote your videos. You can easily promote your videos without a huge investment.

Which ones should you pay for? Start with the ones that are getting the most engagement. These are likely to be the best ones to spend your marketing dollars on, so they are a great option.

Make Your Social Videos Go Further in 2018

Every year for the past few years seems to have been the “Year of Video,” and 2018 is no exception. Video continues to break all previous records, and it’s only getting bigger as a marketing technique.

More and more people want to watch video content online, especially on social and especially on their phones. And as a marketer, this is an opportunity for you to reach out, connect, and engage with more people.

So start creating and posting videos on your social channels keeping these tips in mind, and see if you can get more eyes on your videos in the coming months.