Remember when Facebook tried to make hashtags catch on?

How embarrassing was that?!

They tried to copy a technique that works on Twitter, but it just didn’t make sense for Facebook’s users.

It didn’t work because Facebook isn’t a discovery platform like Twitter. And it never was.

The critical mistake Facebook made here, is that they lost sight of what their platform is and how people actually use it. They tested something that was guaranteed to fail because it didn’t align with how users engage with their platform.

The same dynamic applies to marketers as well — if you don’t understand how to tailor your communication to the context and culture of each platform, you’ll just embarrass yourself like Facebook did.

You know what I’m talking about. You probably see it all the time; brands that create a tweet that automatically gets posted on Facebook too.

What Not to Do On Social Media

I should point out that these posts each got only one “Like” on Facebook with an audience of nearly 40,000 fans. Those results are so bad, they speak for themselves. When you look at it this way, it’s pretty obvious that you need to tailor your content for each platform you’re using.

And video is no different!

That’s why This Week In Video Marketing, we’re going to be talking about social video marketing and the importance of optimizing your videos for each platform you intend to share them on.

Example #1: Vertical vs. Horizontal Video

Most striking and embarrassing of all is when you create a vertical video (hamburger-style) and post it on a horizontal (hotdog-style) video platform.

It creates these big, obnoxious black bars that scream to your viewers that you don’t know what you’re doing with a camera in your hands.

But that doesn’t mean that vertical video is always bad. On the contrary, there are some situations where vertical video is the norm, such as on Snapchat.

For awhile there, we were seeing several new video platforms adopting a vertical video approach, including Periscope and Facebook Live. However, that trend has been reversing itself as those video platforms have updated their technology so you can make horizontal videos that can be repurposed more easily.

Which brings us back to the problem of repurposing your videos across platforms that may have a different user expectations and contexts. In other words, just because you can share a Periscope recording on your YouTube channel, doesn’t mean you should.

So long story short, always go horizontal when shooting a video, unless the platform specifically calls for vertical video (like Snapchat).

Example #2: Facebook Live vs. Other Live Video Platforms

The layout of your video is one thing, but what about the content of your video?

To share just one example of how you’d customize the actual content of your video for different platforms, consider Facebook Live compared to Periscope.

Many “Scopers” (Periscope users) have tried to “simulcast” on both Periscope and Facebook Live using two mobile devices at the same time. What they discovered is that the users on each platform have different expectations and require different content to be fully optimized.

For example, Facebook rewards you for having longer live shows by keeping your video at the top of all your followers’ feeds for the entire time you’re live, while Periscope has no such advantage. That means you may actually want to have longer Facebook Live events than you would typically do for Periscope.

Another example here are the integrations: Facebook Live naturally integrates with Facebook, while Periscope interfaces mostly with Twitter. With that in mind, you would to ask for different types of engagement and offers viewers different calls-to-action that are appropriate based on their context.

And the last difference I’ll share here is that on Periscope, it often takes a little while for people to join your broadcast, so most Scopers will start like they would for a webinar, with a lot of chitchat and audience engagement.

Facebook, on the other hand, pulls people into your stream right away because it’s at the top of everyone’s feed and more people are on Facebook 24/7. That means you need to get right into the content, or risk losing your early viewers.

And that’s just three ways that Facebook Live is different from Periscope; there are many others.

The point here is to encourage you to consider the unique context and capabilities of each platform you’re creating content for and use those insights to create appropriate content for each social network.

While simulcasting might be efficient, it’s a lot like posting your tweets on Facebook; it may save you time, but it costs you engagement and respect.

Example #3: Silent Autoplay vs. On-Demand Viewing

Regardless of the social platform you’re sharing video on, you want viewers to stick around and watch your videos for longer.

This is called “audience retention” and it’s important for getting your message heard, building relationships with your community, and for getting people to hear and respond to your calls-to-action.

But what works on one platform won’t necessarily work on another.

The new “classic example” of this is Facebook vs. YouTube videos. On YouTube, people click on your videos before they play. They’ve decided to watch your video and it plays with audio from the very beginning.

Facebook, on the other hand, is quite different. Your video autoplays in the newsfeed without sound.

How are you going to convince people to stop and click on your video for audio? Or alternatively, how can you deliver your message entirely without sound?

Can you see how the context is very different and requires subtle changes in your video strategy? That’s why it’s critical that you develop a promotion plan for each video before it’s produced. That way, you can create videos that perform well on several platforms, rather than pigeonholing yourself into one platform and getting embarrassingly poor results when you share it everywhere else.

It’s easy, for example, to produce a video that’s designed to perform well on YouTube and simply make a few tweaks so that it can be displayed effectively on Facebook too. At WireBuzz, we do this ALL the time. It’s a fundamental part of our video creation process.

But you need to plan for it!

Your Turn…

Hopefully you can see how important it is to design your videos for each platform you intend to share them on. The reward is improved engagement and a more loyal audience.

And is we always say, that begins with strategy. Before you start scripting or producing a video, you need to know how and where you intend to share it. Then you can plan on subtly tweaking your video to stretch your investment further across platforms, rather than trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Do you have other examples of situations in which a tactic works well on one video platform, but not on another? Let me know in the comments below!

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Marcus Krieg

Director of Strategy at WireBuzz
Marcus is the Director of Strategy at WireBuzz. For more writing and video marketing tips, follow him on Facebook or Twitter.