Why You Need to Optimize Your Videos for Social Media

Think once you finish a video you can just publish it once and be done? Think again. Here’s why (and how!) you should optimize your videos for different social media platforms.

After a video shot, your first instinct is likely to just throw it up on YouTube or Vimeo, embed the link on your website, schedule some social posts and call it a day.

And why wouldn’t you think that? Once everything has been shot and edited, it’s just about getting eyes on your fancy new video, right?

What this approach fails to take into account is the many different platforms and devices people watch videos on. To get the most out of each video, you need to have your project specifically optimized for each unique platform you plan to promote it on.

Here’s why taking a comprehensive approach to video can be worth your time and effort.

A Round Peg in a Square Hole

It’s no secret that developing a successful video is a difficult task. From the conceptualization stage to hiring the right video vendor, writing and approving a script, actually shooting it and then going through multiple rounds of editing and polishing… it can be a long process.

Once you’ve received the standard final cut of a video (what you post on your YouTube/Vimeo account), it can be tempting to just call it day. After all, on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can just paste the URL for your video and have it show up on your feed, ready to play with one click or tap.

What this fails to take into account, however, is each social platform’s preferred native video format. Furthermore, while clicking on a YouTube video posted on Facebook for someone on a desktop computer may not change the viewing experience, it definitely will for mobile users — the dominant method of accessing social media sites.

These statistics from AdWeek say it all:

  • Snapchat claims to generate 10 billion video views each day
  • Facebook records 500 million video views per day
  • As much as 82 percent of Twitter users watch video content on the platform
  • More than 10 billion videos and 3 billion images are viewed daily across Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat

With an expected 6.1 billion smartphones in the world by 2020, it’s essential that you take the time to ensure your videos are optimized for social media.

What are the Benefits

“Native videos” on social media sites — videos which have been uploaded directly to each social platform — receive a number of notable benefits over your standard YouTube video links. Some of these include:

  • Native videos receive built-in auto-play, giving you an opportunity to quickly grab viewers’ attention as they scroll through their feeds
  • These videos appear more authoritative since they’re built directly into the platform. Viewers won’t worry about accidentally being sent to YouTube or Vimeo to watch the clip
  • In general, they just look better

This last point is largely due to the different aspect ratios that are more conducive to viewing videos on a mobile device.

This infographic provided by VEED is a good explainer for video sizes on Facebook in particular, but also all social media sites:

For some context, the standard for YouTube videos (and likely the ratio your final video was delivered in) is 16:9.

As you can see, this video takes up the least amount of real estate on a phone’s screen. While the 9:16 video might be a bit much, a 1:1 or 4:5 ratio will ensure that your viewers can clearly see your content and read your subtitles.

The Importance of Subtitles

Before diving into the specifics of each social platform, let’s take a moment to detail the importance of having your videos subtitled.

To put it simply, subtitles are essential for all videos to be posted on social media platforms. This is for a fairly simple reason — while videos may play automatically, most users will have the sound turned off on their devices. If your video is messaging heavy, you can see how this will hamper the effectiveness of your video.

To create subtitles, you’ll need to upload an accompanying SRT file to the platform you’re adding the video to or create a video file with captions already embedded into it (depending upon which platform you’re uploading to). An SRT file contains the text of your video along with markers which tell the player when it should appear onscreen and can be requested from your video vendor.

Uploading to Various Social Media

You may feel that one social media platform is superior or more popular to another — resist this impulse. Too often organizations choose to focus on the platforms that they spend the most amount of time on, neglecting wide swathes of their audience that may not be using Instagram, for example.

If you have research that clearly shows that your audience is not active on Facebook, for example, then don’t invest time in prepping your videos for this platform. But be sure you have real, verified research to back this up.

With that being said, here’s how you upload a video to four of the main social platforms:


  • Head to your profile page
  • Find the video button in your status update
  • Click the video button and upload your file
  • To add subtitles, click the “pencil” icon once your video has been uploaded and select the correct SRT file 


  • Visit your profile and select the “add media” button
  • Select the video you’d like to upload
  • Upload your subtitle encoded video file


  • Click “Add Photos/Video” in your status bar
  • Select your video file
  • Once your video has processed, click “edit” and add your SRT file


  • In the app, select the “+” button and scroll through to the video you’d like to upload
  • Upload your video file with subtitles embedded

Start Early

One final note worth mentioning is that while it may be possible to convert already-shot videos to the more beneficial aspect ratios of mobile devices and social media platforms, it is best to plan for this ahead of time.

Social media is no longer a secondary driver for your video content — it may be the only way some members of your audience encounter it at all. Early on in your video planning process, work with an experienced video production company who can help you craft videos that will excel in multiple aspect ratios and grab your audience’s attention as they scroll through their feeds.

With the right planning in place, you can greatly enhance the odds that your videos don’t just get noticed on social media but flourish.

Want to learn more about how we can help you craft videos for social? Contact us today.

Why You Need to Optimize Your Videos for Social Media