Avoid these common mistakes when capturing video for social media

Not every video you post on your social channels needs to have Oscar-worthy production values. Sometimes you need to move more quickly—and spend less money—than you can when using a professional videographer. But even for smartphone video quickly captured in the field, you can take a few steps to improve the final quality of your videos. Here are a few quick tips for capturing better video in situations where it doesn’t make sense to hire an external videographer.

Standing too far away

There’s a phrase you’ll find in photography circles that applies equally well to video: Zoom with your feet. Especially if you’re using a smartphone, but 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.

Vertical, or portrait, video is ideal for Instagram Stories or Snapchat, but is not well-suited for viewing on the web or on a television.

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. Two other reasons to zoom with your feet rather than your camera: zooming generally intensifies the effects of small camera movements, meaning potentially shakier final product, and most cameras or lenses let in less light in zoomed mode, potentially making your subject darker.

Shooting vertical video for horizontal applications

Horizontal, or landscape, video is best for most uses.

If your final video is going to be viewed on a computer or television or shared on YouTube, you should most likely shoot in so-called landscape (that is, wider than it is tall). If you intend to use your video in a vertical format like Instagram Stories or Instagram TV, you should shoot vertically (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 in horizontal.

Using your camera’s microphone

Audio is absolutely 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.

A lavalier, or lapel, microphone is a great way to capture clear audio in most environments.

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 recording using an audio memo app. You can then 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 recorderis small enough to pocket and comes with a lavalier microphone for about $200.

With these three simple steps, you can raise the quality of your self-produced social media videos above and beyond any improvements you can make to your editing skills. What are your favorite tips for shooting better videos?

Tony Scida

A Hodges veteran who has been with the firm for more than a decade, Tony lends his creative talents to a range of clients. With a degree in arts management and as an accomplished musician, Tony has an ear for helping tell client stories.

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