Video is no longer a nice-to-have marketing tool for retailers – it has become one of the most effective and important ways to engage and invite customers to take action and drive ROI.

Need convincing? Research shows that 70% of businesses report that video produces more conversions than any other content, with users spending 88% more time on websites with video. Video content also reaches audiences that both images and text can’t with 1200% more shares – paired with the fact that 64% of customers say they are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video, it’s clear to see just how powerful video can be for retail marketers.

However, knowing you need a video campaign is a lot different from actually executing it. For many small businesses and retailers, creating quality video content can seem out of reach due to a lack of time, budgets and editing experience – with 80% saying they would create more videos if they knew an easy way.

In 2021, that is no longer the case, with access to free tools such as iStock’s Video Editor, providing access to licence-free videos, music, photos, illustrations and more to produce high impact video assets without any previous design or editing experience.

With that in mind, here are a few key tips to help you access the full power of video in your social media advertising:

First, understand the platform i.e. Flip your video

The most basic level of personalisation is to consider where the video is going to end up. It may seem like standard practice, but we’re still seeing content being shoehorned into formats that it just isn’t optimised for.

In the case of short-format, high-impact style platforms such as Instagram and TikTok you need to opt for a vertical format if you wish to grab (and keep) your audience’s attention. Consumers view most social media content on their phones, with studies showing that phones are held vertically 94% of the time – so when retail brands simply add text to a square or horizontal video which fills only 50% of the screen, it feels incredibly jarring and forces audiences to do something unnatural like flip their phone.

Dimensions aside, you also need to consider the length of your video. Social media feeds are overflowing with content, so it’s important to captivate your audience in the first few seconds – or lose them before you can relay your brand message.

Make your content interactive

In the current digital landscape, interactive content is the fuel that retailers need to succeed, with 93% of marketers rating interactive content as an effective way to educate prospective customers.

By design, video is an immersive experience, and one of the easiest types of interactive content to use in marketing. For social media, the key is to create content that takes advantage of the platform’s features, such as drawing attention to a swipe-up link, 3D video, polls, or encouraging a user to tap to the next part of the story. These come at no extra cost — all that is required is a little more creativity.

Additionally, social media is one of the strongest tools for capturing customer data, enabling you to create a more personalised experience, which in turn makes it easier to persuade customers to provide more information such as which products they love or desire to see.

Take Adore Beauty for example who include polls in their Instagram stories to gauge their audience’s

interest in a new product as well as buyers’ intentions to help inform warehouse stock.

Aim for authenticity over perfection

This is where data is really key. Having insight into the customers you’re trying to reach and using visuals which appeal specifically to that audience can make all the difference to your social campaigns – especially when it comes to authenticity.

Social media was once the place for flawless and often unrealistic visuals, however, consumers now expect more accurate representation of themselves and the world they see around them from the brands they interact with. This shift in consumer behaviour is greatly impacting ROIs, with Visual GPS data from iStock showing 62% of men and 65% of women would prefer to buy from brands representing authentic people like themselves.

Video not only allows businesses to capture the nuances of the individual’s lived experience, but also

provides additional context and authenticity to a story. Keeping this front of mind when creating videos will give your feed an authentic feel and resonate with consumers. Using relatable people from diverse backgrounds rather than models and tying in behind the scenes footage can also help.

So, whether you’re wanting to boost discoverability, spark engagement, or increase ROIs, it’s clear that video is the greatest weapon in your arsenal. Just remember, with the right tips and tools, it doesn’t have to be expensive, time consuming, or difficult to create impressive social media videos for your business.

Grant Farhall is chief product officer at iStock.