3 video errors to avoid on social media

Creating video content for the small screen requires a unique aesthetic. Make sure you eschew these costly production mistakes when creating your next campaign.

Not every video you post on your social channels must have Oscar-worthy production values.

Sometimes you need to move more quickly—and spend less money—than you can when using a professional videographer. However, even for smartphone video quickly captured in the field, a few simple steps can improve the final quality of your videos.

Here are three quick tips for capturing better video in situations where it doesn’t make sense to hire an external videographer:

1. Don’t stand too far away.

In photography circles, there’s an aphorism that applies equally well to video: “Zoom with your feet.” Even if you are using a dedicated camera with an optical zoom lens, you’re better off standing closer to your subject.

Particularly for social media, where it’s likely your video will be watched at a smaller size or on a small device, you want your subject to fill up as much of the frame as possible. Chances are that we don’t need to see your video subject’s knees.

If you’re trying to show the context of where your subject is standing, you can create an establishing shot and then cut to the close shot of your subject. There are other reasons to zoom with your feet rather than your camera, also. Zooming generally intensifies the effects of small camera movements, meaning potentially shakier final product. Plus, most cameras or lenses let in less light in zoomed mode, potentially making your subject darker.

2. Don’t shoot vertically for a horizontal format.

If your final video is going to be viewed on a computer or television, or shared on YouTube, you should most likely shoot in “landscape” (that is, with greater width than height). If you intend to use your video in a vertical format like Instagram Stories or Instagram TV, you should shoot vertically (also called portrait mode).

If you’re not sure whether you need vertical or horizontal video, you probably need horizontal video. If you’re planning to use the final video in a square format, you most likely should also shoot horizontally.

3. Don’t use your camera’s microphone.

Audio is crucial for video. While standing closer to your subject will help some, you will get the best results by using a microphone and capturing the audio separately. The good news is that you have lots of options here, and some can be quite affordable.

If your shot allows, you can use a lavalier microphone that plugs right into your phone, which will capture higher quality audio right along with your video. If you aren’t able to stand close enough to wire a microphone directly to your smartphone or camera, you can wire a microphone to a second phone stashed in the subject’s pocket and record using an audio memo app.

You can later combine the audio and video in a video editing program. There are also a variety of dedicated compact recorders that can accept a microphone input, for instance the Zoom F1 field recorder is small enough to pocket and comes with a lavalier microphone for about $200.

Tony Scida is the director of creative services for the Hodges Partnership, a full-service PR firm. A version of this article originally ran on the Gong Blog.

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