Why social video has become essential

Posting short video clips on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks is now essential for driving engagement.

There was a time, not all that long ago, when posting an image with every tweet or Facebook update was a guaranteed way to stand out from the crowd.

But a glance at Twitter or Facebook timelines now shows that anything without an image is an exception.


So the battle for users' attention has shifted to the moving image. And in particular posting short video clips.

Encouraging the use of the video has been a big focus for the major social networks during the last 12-18 months, with moves to make it easier both to upload and watch video, and challenge YouTube's pre-eminence.

  • Facebook - The introduction of an autoplay feature has enabled it to generate more than 8 billion daily video views.
  • Twitter - Introduced autoplay and also increased its video length limit from 30 seconds to 140 seconds. 
  • LinkedIn - Invited 500 influencers to post 30-second videos. This is a precursor to a likely wider roll out .
  • Instagram- Increased video length from 15 to 160 seconds
  • Snapchat - Launched a pair of glasses with a built-in camera for recording 10 second-snaps on the go.

With Instagram and Snapchat aimed at a younger audience, and LinkedIn’s native video in development, let's take a closer look at Facebook and Twitter.


Uploading a video natively to Facebook means it will auto-play silently in users' news feeds, with people able to tap into the video to play it full-screen with sound. Uploading subtitles or designing a video with on-screen text, such that it can be played silently, will help with engagement rates - especially considering so much of Facebook video content will be watched on mobile phones while on the move.

Taking our client the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) as an example, we can see just how powerful native video uploads can be.

Since June 2016, Facebook posts on BFAWU's page containing just text or text with an image have generated an average reach of 268 people.


Videos uploaded to the Facebook page over the same period have experienced a reach of 2,780 on average, which is 1,000% higher than posts with text or text and an image.


Twitter gave notice of its intentions in the video space in the summer of 2016 when it increased the time limits on native video uploads to 140 seconds, from 30 seconds, to give producers more flexibility and time to get their message across.

Like Facebook, the videos autoplay and are silent until a user clicks on it to initiate sound. And again like Facebook an analysis of the results of the use of native video highlights the need for it.

We produced three short videos for Renewable UK, alongside a longer video for their Parliamentary reception, for use on social media during Offshore Wind Week.


An analysis of the performance of their tweets during this period shows a startling difference between video and other content forms.

Native videos received on average 45 retweets and 37 likes, compared to an average of just 6 and 5 respectively for tweets containing an image, and 3 and 2 for tweets containing just text.


The solitary tweet containing a link to a YouTube video (which doesn't auto-play) received 5 retweets and the same number of likes.

Final thoughts

There have been widespread declarations from Facebook and Twitter on the success of videos natively uploaded to their networks.

But as this evidence shows, the picture at the micro-level backs up the rhetoric about engagement with video above other forms of content.

So, the message is coming through loud and clear: if you want to be noticed on social media, you need to get posting video natively.

Nathan Coyne
By Nathan Coyne