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How to Cut Down Your Explainers Into Short Social Media Videos

To get maximum results from your explainer videos, you share them everywhere you can. That includes on social media. Many brands just post the whole video and move on, but there’s a better way. The trend toward short content means you might see better results if you cut down your explainers into multiple short social media videos.

As video creators for HR, healthcare, SaaS and commercial clients, we like to keep social media sharing in mind from the very beginning. Here’s how you can use this value-maximizing mindset to design videos that are easy to cut down for social media use.

Plan for Short Social Media Videos From The Beginning

Although it is sometimes possible to cut an existing video down into short social media videos, it’s much easier to start with cut-downs in mind. As IdeaRocket Founder and Creative Director Will Gadea put it: 

“It’s never too early to think about how you’re going to make a social media edit. At the scripting stage you should be planning ahead and modularizing messages so they can be easily extracted.”

When we begin to plan the story — which is the core of any video — we can consider how that story might be told in shorter increments. Then we can look for ways to condense that story to fit the planned media outlets. 

TV commercial spots tend to be between 15 and 30 seconds, but social media video might need to be even shorter. And unlike traditional TV ads, social media videos don’t have to fit pre-determined ad breaks. A social media short can be 21 seconds if that’s what’s needed to tell the story.

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Identify An Audience for Each Short Social Media Video

We make every video to appeal to a specific audience. When planning cut-downs, keep in mind that your social media audience might be different from your YouTube or Streaming TV audience. 

If you’re using your video as an ad on social media, you might be able to target very specific subgroups within your broader audience. In that case, the content of your video should speak directly to that group. Make cuts accordingly. 

Script Your Cut-Down Options

If a client knows from the beginning that they want cut-downs, we’ll write scripts with As we write the video scripts, we’ll include cut-down options. That means we’ll note which scenes, voiceover, or dialog will be included in each social media short. Scripting with these variations in mind helps us make sure that each version of the video tells a complete story. 

We can check transitions and storyboard each version of the script to see how each one stands on its own. Planning cut-down options at the earliest stages of the process also lets us see whether a slightly different voiceover might help the shorter versions feel complete. 

Plan to Include a Call to Action For Each Short Social Media Video

The call to action you include on your short social media video might be different than you would use for a video on your website. Maybe you plan to use Instagram’s shoppable video feature and want to let the pop-up do the talking. In another case, you might want the voiceover artist to say the call to action. 

Once again, planning for cut-downs means you have all the material you need to make quality videos at any length. 

Oh, and don’t forget this great advice from Will, “It’s a good idea to add a branding piece at the end of each cut. It’s the last thing you ought to leave out.”

Consider Video Dimensions For Different Platforms

If your main video is for YouTube or your website, you’re probably creating a standard 16:9 aspect ratio video. Your video will be designed to play in horizontal displays. There’s just one problem with that — social media videos tend to be vertical, using a 9:16 aspect ratio. 

How can you make a horizontal video fit into a vertical space? With planning. If the design team knows that videos will be shared in vertical formats, they can design scenes that won’t suffer from being cut down. On the other hand, you might choose to create the video in a square format or with filler bars on either side of a vertical image. 

We designed this video for Simplist to fit both Square and horizontal formats. So whether the ad played on YouTube or TikTok, the message still lands. 

Garnier wanted a full-immersive video that would work just as well on YouTube or Instagram Reels. So we created two versions of this video — one vertical and one horizontal. 

Test Cut-Downs Against Longer Video

The final step is to post your social media cutdowns and track their performance. Use social media metrics to compare how the cut-downs perform against the original. Most brands find that a mix of both short social media videos and slightly longer explainers or commercials offer maximum flexibility across all the platforms their audience uses. 

At IdeaRocket, we create quality videos at all lengths and for every video platform. Contact us to start your video project

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