As TikTok and Instagram Reels continue to dominate the land of viral content, video needs to be part of your marketing strategy. Biteable’s TikTok whizz, Haily Moulton, joined Mike on The Video Vantage Podcast to chat about the ins and outs of boosting social media engagement with viral-worthy videos.
How do you create attention-grabbing social media videos?
Of course, no one really knows the secret to creating viral video content — there’s always an element of luck and happenstance involved — but Haily knows a thing or two about creating consistently engaging content. Biteable’s TikTok account boasts over 5.5M views and 38.4K followers — not to mention another 1.6M views over on Haily’s own TikTok account.
So what’s the secret to creating attention-grabbing social media videos? Mike and Haily agree that you need to jump right into it.
“Add a hook in the first second of your video,” Haily shares. “You want to be just a little bit clickbaity.”
Let people know what you’re about to say before you delve into the specifics, then you can take your time explaining it.
Keep things visually interesting
Another thing Haily likes to do in the first second of a video is add some sort of visual transition — whether that’s a jump cut, a zoom-in, or a different clip. This helps keep your audience visually engaged.
“There’s a common tactic on TikTok where people will tell stories while doing something completely unrelated — like making a sandwich,” Haily explains. “It just helps grab and keep attention spans.”
Stay on trend
Nothing will boost your chances of striking the viral jackpot more than jumping on video trends quickly and cleverly. Haily recommends making the most of trending sounds on TikTok, and putting your own spin on the trend while it’s still timely.
Notice how you watch
Don’t discount your own experiences as an audience member. Haily suggests always paying attention to what’s grabbing your attention while watching videos, and, more importantly, what’s losing it.
“Sometimes it’s bad lighting, the angle was weird, the video’s too slow to get started,” Haily explains. Not to mention the “millennial pause” — a brief, awkward blank stare millennials are prone to keeping at the start of videos — “you completely lose your viewers in that half a second.”
The importance of keeping up with viral trends
Now for the big question — how does one consistently leverage trends and viral topics? Coming up with new, engaging video ideas on a daily or weekly basis is no small task. So how does Haily do it?
Find your niche and know your trends
“I think there are really clever ways you can apply trends to whatever niche you’ve already set up on your channel,” Haily shares.
It’s all about staying on top of trending audios and thinking of relevant, relatable scenarios within your niche.
Knowing your niche, and being quick on the uptake, are two essential ingredients for good social media video content. But, it’s also more than just that — Haily believes a big part of Biteable’s TikTok success is about trust.
Trust your social media managers
“It’s not just that the videos are funny and relatable, but the leadership team trusts my ideas — I’m not running through layers of approval,” Haily explains. “It might be 5 minutes from when I had the idea to when the post goes live. I think that’s what really works these days. Being able to be quick and agile — and that requires trust.”
You heard it here first, folks: Trust your social media managers.
Jump on the bandwagon, fast
When it comes to TikTok, the faster you jump on a trend, the more likely you are to be blessed by the algorithm. Here’s an example of when Haily jumped on the bandwagon pretty quickly. When Haily posted the video, the TikTok sound only had around 600 videos — by the next day, the sound was being used all over TikTok.
My dog during the day: Silent. My dog when I’m on a call: Zoomies #corporatetiktok #corporate #corporatelife #corporateproblems #corporatemillenial #9to5life #9to5 #corporatehumor #corporatetok #corporatejokes #wfhproblems #wfhstruggles #wfhcheck #workfromhome #workfromanywhere #remoteworker #wfh #corporatelifemillenials #workfromhomelife♬ original sound - user57218521983
Thanks to Haily’s speedy thinking (and ability to work quickly, without a complicated approvals process), within 24 hours, this TikTok generated over 1 million views and currently has over 170,000 likes.
What’s the best length for a successful social media video?
Best practices vary across social media platforms, which can make determining the ideal length for your video content a confusing process.
Since we’re a small marketing team here at Biteable, we’re all about repurposing content and, “figuring out how to get the most juice out of that squeeze,” as Haily puts it.
“The first thing I consider is ‘where is that video going to be posted?’” Haily says.
Where your video will end up should be your main indicator for length. The type of content you create, and your audience, will also play a role in determining the best length of your content.
According to Haily, Biteable’s video content generally sits within these timeframes:
- TikTok and Instagram Reels: 7 to 10 seconds
- YouTube Shorts: 30 seconds to a minute
- YouTube videos: 2 to 3 minutes
The power of understanding your audience
Just like with any other type of marketing, when it comes to creating video content, it’s imperative to understand who your audience is and what they’re looking for.
“For me, that’s marketing 101,” Mike says. “Know who you’re talking to and who you’re serving.”
Knowing as much as possible about your audience will benefit both you and your audience.
Haily uses a video’s soundtrack as an example of this. Soundtracks set the tone of your video, so it’s important to choose something that suits your audience.
“A more corporate audience is likely to expect a soundtrack with a corporate vibe about it — a classic piano and violin tune. Whereas if you’re targeting a Gen Z audience, they might fall asleep when they hear that, so you need something a little more upbeat,” Haily says.
How to measure the success of social media videos
All good marketing strategies must be measurable, and social media videos are no different. With a wealth of analytics to pick from, what should we be looking at to say “that worked” or “that did not work”?
Haily says engagement rates are where it’s at: “I’ll also look at how many people our content is reaching, but engagement is what tells you whether or not your message landed.”
It can also be helpful to gauge the sentiment of that engagement. Are the comments agreeing with you, or did that video stir up some controversy?
Is all engagement good engagement?
Is controversial content something to strive for? Is one controversial post a reason to panic? Haily says all engagement is good engagement in a way. “It still gets your brand name and awareness out there.”
But striving for controversy isn’t a strategy that Haily suggests. “It’s important for your audience to trust you and your authenticity — that you’re not doing things just for the click.”
In terms of Biteable’s comment section, Haily says we’ve been lucky to keep things pretty positive.
“We’re really lucky that Biteable’s comment section is generally a really positive place. Sometimes a video will end up on the wrong side of the algorithm, but there isn’t really much you can do about that,” Haily explains.
Using one of Biteable’s more popular TikToks as an example, Haily shares her experience dealing with angry commenters.
“I posted a TikTok about taking a shower in the middle of the work day. 95% of commenters found it relatable, and maybe only 5% said things like ‘you’re so lazy, go back to the office’”, Haily says. “That engagement still helped spread the video further.”