Video is the gold standard for online marketing. If you want to dominate the social media landscape, you need to understand video inside and out.
The problem is, each social media site has different optimization settings for streaming video. This can really slow you down as you go through each site’s preferred settings, but if you ignore it, your content may suffer or render incorrectly. But once you get it down, it's quite easy to follow, and in most video editors, you can save these settings to optimize your workflow and save a ton of time.
This guide will walk you through all the major social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn) and help you optimize your video settings so they will best impact your audience.
Facebook video is rapidly becoming as popular as YouTube and its ability to naturally engage viewers can no longer be ignored. It offers forward-thinking formats such as Live Video and 360º video as well.
Facebook recommends uploading in .MP4 or .MOV, but will take many different formats, from .WMV to .3G2. You can find the complete list here, but for professional purposes stick with .MP4 or .MOV.
Depending if your video is Landscape or Portrait, your aspect ratio will be 16:9 or 9:16 respectively. (On mobile, it will be rendered 2:3.) Size is not altered whether the video is sponsored. Recommended video dimensions are 1200 x 720.
Facebook also recommends these settings:
• H.264 video with AAC audio in .MOV or .MP4 format
• An aspect ratio no larger than 4000px wide and divisible by 16px
• A frame rate at, or below, 30fps
• Stereo audio with a sample rate of 44,100hz
If you want captions, Facebook is rolling out settings to automatically add them to English language videos. Once your video is published, simply click “Generate” and it will do all the work for you. You can, of course, edit these captions for accuracy or you can upload your own SubRip (.SRT) files. You can learn more here.
There are other settings you should be aware of: The maximum length is 120 minutes. The maximum file size is 4.0 GB. Videos must be directly uploaded.
If the video is public, you can embed it on other sites by clicking the arrow in the top right corner of the post and selecting Embed.
Facebook Video: Quick Takes
• Format: .MP4/.MOV (recommended), several others accepted
• Aspect: 16:9/9:16 (mobile rendered 2:3)
• Max Length/Size: 120min/4.0GB
• Captions: optional, automated
• Can be embedded? Yes
Millions of people watch ads on Facebook’s Instagram and engagement is much higher than other social media platforms, so don’t dismiss this site as just a platform for selfies. Not surprisingly, Instagram has many of the same recommended video settings, but there are some key differences. The main difference is that Instagram videos are shorter: the max length is 60 seconds.
But there are also three different formats: Landscape, Square & Vertical.
• For landscape video, minimum resolution is 600 x 315 and aspect ratio is 16:9.
• For square video, minimum resolution is 600 x 600 and aspect ratio is 1:1.
• For vertical video minimum resolution is 600 x 750 and aspect ratio is 4:5.
Here’s a great chart that shows the differences. Depending on your needs and audience, you’ll want to pick the right format.
But other recommendations are the same: Max file size is 4GB, recommended video formats are .MP4 and .MOV and max frames are 30fps. Stick with H.264 compression, stereo AAC audio with a sample rate of 44,100hz, and avoid using letterboxing or black bars. Size is not altered whether the video is sponsored. Videos must be directly uploaded.
Captions are supported and you can upload SRT files, however, automated captions are not yet available. To embed an Instagram video on another site, click the three dots (•••) in the bottom-right corner (for desktop) or the top-right corner (for mobile) and select Embed.
Instagram Video: Quick Takes
• Aspect: 16:9 (landscape), 1:1 (square), 4:5 (vertical)
• Max Length/Size: 60secs/4.0GB
• Captions: Optional.
• Can be embedded? Yes.
The premiere social media network for businesses, LinkedIn offers dynamic video settings. It’s still rolling out many of these features (it doesn’t offer video ads at the moment) but audience engagement is high. The ability to show off product demos, industry events, and more make LinkedIn a valuable platform.
LinkedIn will take many different video formats, including .AVI and .WMV3, but again, .MP4 and .MOV are best. H.264 compression and stereo AAC audio with a sample rate of 44,100hz are also optimal. Livestreaming is not currently supported. Videos must be directly uploaded.
Resolution can range from 256 x 144 to 4096 x 2304 but recommended video dimensions are 1200 x 720.
Max file sizes are 5GB, and maximum length is 10 minutes. LinkedIn accepts frame rates from 10fps to 60 fps (30fps is a good target), and bitrates from 192 kbps to 30 Mbps. Videos must be uploaded directly. More info can be found here.
To embed your LinkedIn video on another site, click the three dots (•••) More icon in the top right corner of the post, click “Embed this post” and copy the code.
You can add filters and text to your video, but captions are not currently supported. Additional info is here.
LinkedIn Video: Quick Takes
• Aspect: 1:2.4 - 2.4:1
• Max Length/Size: 10mins/5.0GB
• Captions: No.
Twitter isn’t just for blasting out your opinions on everything from cats to the president, it’s also great for short videos. You can attach up to 4 photos, 1 animated GIF or 1 video in a tweet. The settings for Twitter are a little more critical, so while audience engagement is there, it’s important to pay close attention.
Videos cannot be longer than 140 seconds or larger than 512MB. Resolution cannot exceed 1280 x 1024 but aim for at least 1200 x 720. Video formats must be .MP4 for web and .MOV for mobile. Frame rates cannot exceed 40fps. Videos must be uploaded directly. Livestreaming is supported. Size is not altered whether the video is sponsored.
You must use progressive scan and must have 1:1 pixel aspect ratio. Aspect ratios should be between 1:3 for Landscape and 3:1 for Portraits. There is a closed caption button, but it often doesn’t work and you cannot upload SRT files. One option is to hard embed captions into your video, but these cannot be turned on or off.
There are a number of things to avoid with Twitter as well. High-efficiency AAC audio is not supported, so audio must be AAC with a Low Complexity profile. You must not have open GOP, and only YUV 4:2:0 pixel format is supported. You can find the complete list of best media practices for Twitter here.
Embedding a video on another site is as easy as embedding a tweet. Simply click the three dots (•••) and select “Embed video.”
Twitter Video: Quick Takes
• Format: .MP4/.MOV only.
• Aspect: 1:3 (Landscape), 3:1 (Portraits)
• Max Length/Size: 140secs/512MB
Don't forget Snapchat—you may think it's just for kids, but this fast-growing social media platform is a great place to direct marketing efforts, especially for targeting young people. However, the requirements here are the most restrictive.
Snapchat has two different video settings: 10-second video and Long Form. 10-second video must be between 3 and 10 seconds, and can't be larger than 32MB. Long form has no maximum length, but it does have a low max size—only 1GB. Both formats only accept .MP4 or .MOV and should be H.264 encoded. High-efficiency AAC audio of 192kbps or more is required. Size is not altered whether the video is sponsored. Captions are not currently supported and direct upload is required.
The recommended size is 1080 x 1920 pixels and requires an aspect ratio of 9:16. Long Form does restrict silent or still video, but with 10-second format, you can do slideshows or still images. Both prefer vertical video, but horizontal is permitted. You can't use letterboxing or have arrows or text that encourage swiping in your ads. You also can't embed a Snapchat video on another site, the only social media platform listed here that doesn't allow that. More info on 10-second and Long Form video are here.
Snapchat Video: Quick Takes
• Aspect: 9:16
• Max Length/Size: No Max/1GB
• Can be embedded? No.
When you create a video you want to share across multiple social media platforms, you’ll likely be using a program like Premiere Pro or Final Cut. You can tweak settings for each video as you export, so keeping these guidelines in mind will prevent your workflow from running into any snags. For example, a video geared for Facebook might be 2GB, but if you try to upload it to Twitter, whose max file size is 512MB, the upload will fail.
Soon, you’ll be able to create one video, export it with the right settings for the right site, and engage your audience easier than ever.