How to adapt for social media... like a boss
If you're finding it hard to adapt content that wasn't produced with social media in mind, fret no more, here are a few quick tips and tricks to adapt for social like a boss!
It's always better to have the platform and formats in mind from the briefing stage, but as we all know, that doesn't always happen.
Perhaps the creative development overlooked social, maybe the production team shot without considering how they were going to frame vertically, or potentially you're simply adapting existing content. So, instead of taking your aggression out on the film of your microwave meal, let's have a look at how to adapt for social...
N.B. For the sake of this exercise, I will assume that we are working from a 16x9 TVC and we've been asked to produce 4x5 edits for Facebook in-feed and 9x16 videos for Instagram Stories.
Work the vertical space
Just a quickie to get started - where possible you want to be working with 4k (or higher) footage, this will allow you to crop an Instagram Story from a landscape video at the suggested resolution (1080x1920 pixels)
When you know what formats are required, my first port of call is to go through the footage and look out for strong vertical cues - giraffes, skyscrapers, that sort of thing is always handy. Take those shots and work them for all they're worth.
If you're struggling on certain parts of the story, consider using techniques such as stacking - this can be a great way to not only make content appear like it was created for mobile consumption, but also shorten the length of the edit.
Be quick about it
There are no hard and fast rules for length (although media companies will tell you otherwise, in order to achieve the best view through rates possible to maximise their KPIs) - but shorter is generally better. This is not always the case, but for adapting content for social, you should be considering making it as punchy and impactful as possible.
You also want to make sure you set the scene quickly. You want people to know what they're watching straight away to try and encourage them to watch for a few seconds more.
Say what you need to & stop there
Say one thing.
Say it clearly.
Say it early.
I'd advise against trying to squeeze multiple messages in to one adapt, instead I'd simply focus on the main message or CTA.
Social media is packed full of content. If you think someone is going sit and happily watch your ad for a minute, you're stuck in the past.
Optimise for sound-off
But don't forget to delight for sound-on. If the option is there, include sound for those who are willing to listen to audio on their phones. Perhaps you can be creative with the audio, surprising those who do listen with sound.
However, the majority of people on most platforms will watch with sound-off. That means that titles should be the most important consideration to get your message across. Be dynamic and be impactful - don't simply subtitle your content.
Not everything needs to be heavily branded, but when driving awareness branding is very important. Facebook recommend that you brand within the first 1-2 seconds of video content, and it's important to try and brand naturally - because, let's face it, people hate advertising.
But when branding, think more than a logo. When I wrote about how to make the perfect Instagram Story, I included some useful tips on branding that might be of use.
In today's cut-throat, overly populated world of social media, you need to stand out - and quickly.
When you're cutting something down, think about what is currently happening in the first few seconds of the edit. You might need to take the end of the TVC and put it at the beginning, or there might be something funny that happens that you want to open with to grab people's attention.
Just remember - If it's a slow build with a payoff at the end, you're doing it wrong.
Test multiple versions
Social media has a lot of advantages over other mediums. One is that you can put out different edits and actually learn what works well as you go - it's essentially receiving free customer research on the fly.
Perhaps there are two KSPs for your product. Why not test them both and see what people are reacting best to? Maybe you're selling a shoe and you're unsure whether to start with a close-up shot or a wider shot to show the model - test it. Everything can be tested, and you can use social media to your advantage by simply testing, learning and implementing your findings.
There are lots of other things to consider, such as platform formats, call to actions, art direction, copywriting, content ecosystems - the list goes on. But I hope that this list has helped you to feel a little more comfortable with adapting content for social media.
If you need any more help, remember there are a ton of great resources out there such as these great examples of social content from Facebook - or perhaps you want to look through some of my social media work if you're that way inclined.