Social media animation
Animation is a perfect way of getting attention for your report or campaign on social media.
For some time now, social media videos have been the favoured content-type of algorithms on the various platforms – over and above text and image posts.
On Twitter, for example, tweets with video (and that includes live-action as well as motion graphics) attract 10 times the amount of engagement as tweets without video.
It is a similar story on Facebook where people spend 5 times as long looking at posts containing video compared to those without. Average engagement on video posts (at 6.01%) is also nearly three times higher than status posts (at 2.21%).
Why use an animated video over live-action
We work in a specific vertical that is largely dealing with explaining complex topics, so we’re not saying that animated videos are always the right option over live-action films on social media. But for our vertical they very much are.
The beauty of animation is its ability to break down a topic into small component parts and harness both the visuals and the voiceover to explain it simply to its audience. It is far, far more engaging to watch than a person explaining something to camera.
Indeed, in a HubSpot blog exploring a list of the best explainer videos they had ever seen, 70% were animations.
Another type of animated post to consider is the animated GIF: they are a more engaging content-type than static images. An eye-catching animated GIF will on average generate 167% more click throughs than a static-image tweet, and their length means they also have the advantage that people will watch them until the end. But their length is also their downfall as – unless they are part of a short series across several tweets – they can communicate little more than one key fact.
Formats for animated videos on social media
We explore the different platforms in more depth below, but one consideration when producing a social media animation is the aspect-ratio.
While your standard 16:9 widescreen video will do a job for you on social media, and if you’re working to a budget then that’s still the best option, to achieve the greatest cut-through you need to create animation in different formats for different social media platforms.
This is because all social platforms are vertically scrolling timelines optimised for display on mobile devices, where they get most of their traffic. As a result video formats that fill more vertical space tend to perform better.
Square 1:1 aspect ratio videos have for a long-time been the most successful video format on Twitter. While vertical videos outperform square on both Instagram and Facebook.
So in an ideal world you would re-purpose your animated posts to suit each target platform:
- 16:9 for web and YouTube
- 1:1 for Twitter and LinkedIn
- 9:16 for Instagram and Facebook.
Best length for social media animations
Like format, the optimal length will vary by platform. There is plenty of guidance out there on the web about video length, but it is worth bearing in mind that the statistics often don’t account for the subject matter of the video. On YouTube for example, the videos upon which average lengths are calculated will range from short explainers to full TV shows.
Video length is also influenced by platform specific algorithms. The Facebook algorithm has begun to favour longer pieces of content (above 5 minutes), because the company wants to get closer to YouTube for minutes of video viewed so it can claim a bigger share of the video advertising market.
But when we’re talking about complex explainer videos, we think Wistia’s research provides the most accurate guide. This shows that a video will typically retain 50% of its audience up to 3 minutes, whereafter it begins to gradually drop off.
Our general rule of thumb is make your video as short as it can be, while actually doing their job as an explainer. It’s very difficult to explain complex topics in 30 seconds – though you might be able to manage it over a series of 30 second videos.
We think this guidance applies to whatever platform you are posting to, except where the platform limit is less. If you want to post a full video ‘natively’ on Twitter (more on native video later) then your video will need to be no longer than 2 minutes and 20 seconds. Instagram, on the other hand, will only show a 1 minute section of a longer video in the feed before inviting the user to continue to view it in Instagram TV.
Where are social media animations published
In the section below we take a brief look at some of the stats and facts around publishing social media animations on the various platforms, before delving into some practical guidance:
For policy and research communities, Twitter is undoubtedly the best social media platform to be targeting.
Max video length: 2 minutes and 20 seconds
Optimum video length for explainers: 90 to 140 seconds
Best aspect ratio: 1:1 (1080×1080)
Startling stat: There are more than 2 billion video views on Twitter each day.
Check our our blog post on Twitter videos for more information.
A smaller audience than other platforms, but can be great for reaching key stakeholders.
Max video length: 10 minutes
Optimum video length for explainers: 90 to 180 seconds
Best aspect ratio: 1:1
Startling stat: Videos earn 3x the engagement of text posts on Linked In
It has become difficult to build an organic audience from scratch, but worth considering if you already have a sizeable following or have the budget for paid media.
Max video length: 240 minutes
Optimum video length for explainers: 90 to 180 seconds
Best aspect ratio: 1:1 or 9:16 (though 16:9 will work fine too)
Startling stat: There are more than 4 billion video views on the platform each day.
This platform was made for high design so is perfect for those eye-catching social media animations
Max video length: 60 seconds in feed. 15 minutes in IGTV when uploading from a phone and one hour when uploading from the web.
Best aspect ratio: 4:5 to 9:16.
Startling stat: Instagram has more than three times the number of users as Twitter.
Read our blog on why you should be using Instagram.
YouTube is the original social media video platform, and the biggest video search engine on the planet. But it is far from ideal as a video hosting platform for anything beyond YouTube, despite its popularity.
Max video length: 15 minutes for non-verified accounts, and 12 hours for verified accounts.
Best aspect ratio: 16:9 all the way
Startling stat: Nearly three quarters of the adult population of the United States use the video site.
Back in the early 2010s, posting a social media video entailed sharing a link to YouTube in your post.
But the social platforms hated that because it meant you left their platform and went to another website instead. So they all introduced what we now know as ‘native video’ hosting, whereby your video is uploaded directly to and played within the platform – meaning the user stays right where they are.
So publishing a social media animation invariably means uploading it individually to each platform directly. It is still possible to post links to videos hosted elsewhere, but expect engagement levels to be significantly down versus native video posts.
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Managing video inventory
As the volumes of native videos have increased, so the various social media platforms have introduced ways to help you manage your video inventory.
Twitter, for example, have created Twitter Media Studio. You will need a Twitter ads account to access it, but once you do it brings several advantages. Not least that you only need to upload a video once, and can tweet it as many times as you like. Not only does this save precious time, but it means you can collate all the viewing stats through one piece of media rather than painstakingly adding up view counts across the same video posted multiple times (check out our blog post on Twitter Media Studio). Facebook’s Creator Studio will do a similar job.
If you are planning on creating one video format to use across multiple platforms, as well hosting on your website, then both Vimeo and Wistia have a handy publish-to-social tool which enables you to post a video directly to social platforms natively without having to upload it to each individually.
Using social media animations as adverts
There’s little doubt that driving large numbers of video views through your social media posts requires an advertising budget; most topics aren’t going to result in a viral post, no matter how clever or funny the execution is.
This is borne out by the stat that more than one quarter of Facebook pages now use paid media.
If you have a budget for a social media ad, then video is going to provide the most bang for your buck. Data from Twitter shows that the cost per engagement is 50% lower for Promoted tweets with video.
Paid social media marketing is certainly the only way to elevate your reach beyond the limitations imposed upon you by the respective algorithms. It provides theoretical access to 152 million Twitter users, 1.95 billion Facebook users (of the platform’s total of 2.5 million users) and the vast majority of Instagram’s 1 billion users (928.5 million).
If you pay anything more than a passing interest to social media platforms you will have noticed that where one platform goes, others tend to follow. We haven’t mentioned Snapchat yet, but it was the rise of Snapchat that led first Instagram and then Facebook to launch Stories in 2016 and 2017 respectively. YouTube created Reels, now also Stories, in 2018; and last year we saw LinkedIn follow with its own Stories format in October and Twitter joined the party with Fleets in November 2020.
Across the platforms, the format of Stories is basically the same. It’s a post that appears prominently at the top of the screen for a period of 24 hours only before disappearing.
400 million people use Instagram Stories every day, and it can be a great way of showcasing and driving views to your latest motion graphics video.
What makes for a great social media animation
The facets of a great animated video on social media are much the same as those for anywhere else on the web. It should:
- Be well scripted such that it tells an engaging story
- Have great looking, eye-catching visuals while staying true to your brand
However, there are a few specifics that are unique to producing an animated post for social media.
A large percentage of social media videos will be viewed on mobile devices and without sound. According to Twitter, 93% of videos are viewed on iOS and Android mobile devices and sound will be turned off by default. This means having either subtitles or on-screen text built into the video throughout is essential, as many will be viewed without the sound being turned on. Nevertheless, the video should always contain a music bed, while a professional voiceover will always enhance a video and enable you to get more information across in a short space of time.
When people are on social media they are endlessly scrolling until something catches their attention. Videos will autoplay when they come into view on social media, which is another reason why they outperform other content types. However, it is absolutely vital therefore that the first 3 seconds of the video hook the user and get them to stop scrolling. That opening scene and lines of script are going to be key to achieving this. Now is not the time to open with a dull title slide.
How to make a social media animation
If you’re looking for something bespoke, something that will make your organisation stand out from the crowd, then you need to employ an expert team to create your social media animation.
Senate Media has the best part of a decade’s experience in creating animations for clients ranging from trade associations, trade unions, campaign groups, charities, corporates and research bodies.
No project is the same but for each we will apply the same mix of creativity and expertise to fulfil your brief and exceed your expectations.
There is no right answer when it comes to animation type for social media. Characters animations might be the perfect way to fulfil some briefs, while white board animations or icon-based vector animations will be best for others.
Get in touch to speak to our team for a free, no-obligation discussion around your project and what might work best to meet your needs.