Creating Social Media Videos for Authors

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

This an article on why you, the author, need to think about creating video content. Regardless of how introverted you are, regardless of how many crappy book trailers you’ve seen (don't do those), video is here to stay, and the sooner you incorporate it into your social media marketing, the better. 

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Don’t believe me? How’s this for proof?

  • Social media videos get 1200% more shares than text and image posts combined
  • People spend 88% more time on a website when video content is available
  • On Facebook alone, there were 8 billion video views per day in 2016. That’s billion, with a B
  • Instagram and Snapchat (the two fastest growing platforms) are doubling down on making video the centerpiece of their platforms
  • We’ve seen 30-second video ad views from highly targeted audiences for just $0.11 each on Facebook

Video is engaging. It’s personal. It’s intimate almost. It is the medium of choice for social engagement. So if you want to grow your author platform, if you want to expand your audience, if you want to connect with your current readers, you may want to think about how you can be creating video content to include in your current book marketing mix.

Tools to Help You Succeed

One of the reasons authors don’t utilize video extensively is a lack of experience using the tools. We can all record a selfie video, but for anything past that, a lot of us just put it in the "too hard" basket without really taking the time to find out what’s required. Here are a few tools that will make creating video content (meaning production and distribution) a little bit easier:


As the default video tool for Apple MacBooks and Macs, Quicktime provides an easy-to-use platform that allows you to record the video for vlogs, interviews, or videocasts, and a screen record feature for how-to videos and webinars. This basic tool is a great starting point to accompany the video capabilities of your smartphone.  


Wistia is a video platform designed for businesses. The platform makes it extremely simple to share video, embed them into your author website and landing pages, and also keep track of how many views you’re getting. The platform can even show you how far into the video each person gets before they decide to leave. Wistia is a great tool for helping you understand what is working well in your video marketing efforts and where you need to improve.


Animoto makes it easy to create professional looking videos with built-in features that allow you to easily create text overlays, backing tracks, subtitles, voiceover, and more. You don’t need to learn how to use any complicated video editing software to bring disparate video elements together. Everything is contained within the Animoto platform. It’s a great way to achieve a big budget look without the expense.

Your Smartphone

Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of video recorded on a mobile device. Video doesn’t have to be highly polished to be effective. This is particularly true when it comes to communicating with your existing fans. Mobile video is a great way to create authenticity and deepen the connection with your readers. It just feels so much more personal than video shot from a tripod.

So now I've explained the importance of authors creating video content, but before you rush off to create that content, there are some social media marketing guidelines or best practices you’ll want to follow in order to achieve success. Each social media platform has their idiosyncrasies when it comes to video content. You’ll want to understand these before you upload.

Video for Facebook

85% of video views occur without sound

When it comes to Facebook videos, it is crucial to remember that a high percentage of video views will occur without sound. That’s due to the autoplay feature that Facebook enables for native video uploads. That means you need to be creating video content that can still be informative and engaging without sound, or you need to ensure you have subtitles in place so that people can follow along.

People use Facebook for news/current events

This can help to guide you on the type of content you’ll want to create. How can you position a video to be informative or newsworthy? Are you about to launch a book? Are you running a giveaway? Have you recently reached a milestone in your publishing career. What is happening in your world, or the world of your books or characters or business, that you can share?

Native video outperforms shared content

Whenever possible upload the video file to Facebook directly. In a study conducted by Search Engine Journal on videos uploaded directly to Facebook vs. Youtube videos shared via a link, it was found that native Facebook videos achieved much higher engagement rates. They achieved an average of 2x as many views and likes, 3x as many shares and 7x as many comments as videos shared via a link.

Live video is highly engaging 

According to Facebook, videos that are live are watched for 3x as long as videos that aren’t live.

The great thing about live video is that not only are engagement rates high during the broadcast, but you also have a piece of video content you can repurpose and share again later.

Facebook video is almost certainly the most important video platform for authors. Chances are you will already have a following or at least a presence on Facebook so adding video to your arsenal is a great way to build upon this existing platform. If you don’t have an existing following on Facebook, you need to start building one. With 1.2 billion users, you can guarantee there are thousands of people on Facebook who would love to read what you write.

Video for Twitter

News based format similar to Facebook

Again Twitter is used by people to get an understanding of what is happening in their world both big and small. Think of content that fits this use case to achieve high engagement. 

Native video outperforms shared content

Similar to Facebook it’s important that video content for Twitter is uploaded directly to Twitter either through the inbuilt video feature or via the upload option. This will result in more views and engagement and ultimately better results than sending people to another site to view the content.

140 second time limit for uploads

When uploading a pre-recorded video to Twitter, users are faced with a 140 second time limit. This doesn’t apply to videos recorded within the Twitter mobile app. So, if you’re looking at creating video content that's longer form, such as a book launch or an interview, you’ll need to do so via the Twitter app itself.

Video for Snapchat

Real-time videos - not highly polished content

Snapchat is a platform that thrives on videos and images that capture a moment in time. The content that performs best is content that looks like it was recorded in the spur of the moment and unscripted. If you’re comfortable ad-libbing, this could be a great platform through which you can share your unique personality.

Chunks of information published as a story

All of these individual pieces of content in both video and image format can be added to what Snapchat refers to as a story. Users can view your story throughout the day and are shown the next piece of content they haven’t yet viewed. 

Snapchat is a great storytelling platform if you use a bit of creativity. You could use it to show different times of the day, how your writing process is structured, preparing for a launch event, or something more personal. The idea is that these short insights form part of the larger narrative of the day.

Up to 60 seconds per video (broken into 10-second bites)

Snapchat restricts content to 10-second clips, although a recently released feature allows Snapchat users to record six back-to-back 10-second clips without interruption. These videos are still delivered to viewers in 10-second individual bites, but it makes it easier for you to create longer form content such as a book review or book preview.

High volume / frequency > production quality 

Based on the design of this platform, content is king. The frequency with which you engage with your audience is more important than production quality of the videos. Keep it raw and unedited. Use Snapchat to show a more personal side and save the highly refined and structured video for Facebook.

Video for Instagram

Two methods of sharing, Stories (similar to Snapchat) and Newsfeed (similar to Facebook)

Instagram gives us two ways to share content. Either through the newsfeed, which gets posted for everyone to see, for all time. Or inside Instagram stories which makes them available for just 24 hours. The best strategy with these two options is to treat the stories function much like you would Snapchat, and keep more polished content on Newsfeed as you would on Facebook.

Most video views occur without sound

In the same regard as Facebook, this is something you will need to consider. Is the content visually appealing and attractive enough to capture and sustain people's attention without subtitles? Is the message going to be lost if the audio is not available? If this is the case, then make sure you have subtitles on your videos, particularly the videos posted to your Newsfeed.

People use Instagram for inspiration and to learn new skills

Instagram is a great platform for sharing aspirational content. Content that inspires viewers to take action. You could record how-to videos showing people how you plan stories with mind maps on whiteboards or newsprint. You could share a video of your favorite reading location at sunset. If you design your book covers, you could show a time-lapse video of your cover design. Think outside the box, share content that inspires action.

Just Do It

I know it’s not every author’s content creation cup of tea, but video is becoming increasingly important as a medium to connect with new readers and strengthen the following of existing readers. As with everything, you’ll feel uncomfortable at first, but I urge you to persist. You’ll see a vast improvement in the engagement with your content, the reach of your platform, and the loyalty of your existing readers.


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Matt Aird

Matt Aird is the CMO at Koru House Media, a digital agency focused on helping self-published authors achieve success through better marketing.