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How To Make Social Media Video Documentaries That Engage

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Adding documentary style interviews into your social media marketing strategy is a great way to increase engagement and impressions because video content is not only a great way to drive organic traffic, but statistically, social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined, according to Smallbiztrends. From on-the-fly live interviews at various Detroit events to scheduled and produced interviews, Social Motto regularly incorporates interviews into our arsenal of creative content.

One of our favorite projects, Finding Happiness Detroit, was actually created with interviews in mind as the primary source of content. Because of this, we certainly have a few tricks up our sleeves to packaging video interviews specifically for social media. Here are a few of our favorite ways to ensure interviews are optimized for social media!

No doubt about it – people love watching interviews.

While TV show trends come and go, talk shows and late night shows have remained on the schedule (and in primetime spots) throughout history. Some are funny, some emotional, some geared towards men and some feature an all-female panel. One thing they all have in common? Interviews.

How To Do It...

Use Captions

The majority of social media videos are watched without volume. In fact, according to Instapage, 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. Closed captions are necessary to increase not only your overall video views, but how long viewers will watch each video, too. A recent study found that 30% of videos views with the sound off lasted at least 10 seconds, and average total view time was 5% higher on the videos with captions, and also watched by 3% more viewers.

You can interview the most interesting, most well-spoken person in the world, but if you don’t include captions, the majority of your audience will not hear a word of it! Think about when you watch videos on social media most often. In bed when you can’t sleep, on the train during your daily commute, when you’re waiting for your meal when out to dinner, etc. Most of the time, you really can’t crank up the volume. Take the time to add captions to your interviews and expect a spike in views!

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Keep Them Short and Sweet

Say goodbye to 15 minute interviews and hello to 60 second features. For Finding Happiness Detroit, we only create videos that are sixty seconds or less. Here’s why: 

For one, people have the attention span of a goldfish. It’s highly unlikely that they will actually finish the video. According to 2060 Digital, Instagram videos that receive the most comments typically average about 26 seconds in length. Cut out the brown lettuce (the parts that aren’t vital and bring the video down) and just highlight the best bits. Consider uploading the full video to YouTube and offering a link to the full video in the copy if you really want to publish the full video. 

Secondly, platforms like Twitter and Instagram have a limit on how long a video post can be. Keeping social media interviews short and sweet automatically optimize them for all platforms, making scheduling a much easier task. 

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Descriptions are Everything!

We highly recommend selecting the most interesting, quirky or engaging quotes or facts from an interview and including them in the social media post copy or YouTube descriptions. This is a great tactic to pique the interest of your audience and entice them to watch your video. It’s like an appetizer to the video – a small sample that gets their tastebuds going and wanting more. Additionally, if your objective is to drive traffic from a YouTube video to an external page such as a website, be sure to include the link in the first three lines of the description section. According to Digivid360, there is a 0% chance of a viewer navigating to an external website if a URL is not included in the first three lines of the YouTube description or in a clickable link in the video. Here are a few examples of descriptions we included on various Finding Happiness interviews – would you be interested to watch?! 

“Is there something in your life that can immediately turn your day around and cause happiness within you? For Deon, it’s making beautiful music by drumming on pots and pans. Watch the video to check out his story. You’ll want to turn up the volume for this one!”

“Happiness can be music to your ears – literally!

Meet Henry Birdseye, a synthesizer obsessive who likes to make sounds. He enjoys that electronic music is a brain stretcher because it combines science AND math to make beautiful music. The best part of his hobby, though? Introducing people to new equipment and the possibilities of making new music.”

“Everyone needs a go-to retreat to hide away at for a day when life gets to be a little too stressful. Thanks to the Schvitz, people of Detroit can take a day to relax in the pool or steam room. This old-world Eastern European-style bathhouse is truly the oasis we all need!”

“Who does the Murder City Facial Hair Crew and the Circus of Whiskers choose to raise money for through hair competitions? Furry friends with their own set of whiskers, of course! Meet Brad Petrinec, their founder and a recovering heroin addict who goes above and beyond to complete his step of giving back. Though the carnival games at the competitions sure are fun, they aren’t his favorite part. That special title is reserved for handing over cash to the Detroit Animal Welfare Group.”

Open With a Bang

This may sound a little backwards, but we don’t recommend starting an interview with the actual interview. Set the scene by offering a glimpse of what the video will be about. For us, we feature the most quirky, interesting or eyebrow raising b-roll we have! Be sure to arrive early for any social media interview you conduct to take a peek at your surroundings and figure out what your audience will find most interesting. Don’t play it safe – show them something they haven’t seen before!

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Think Outside the Box

One of our favorite things to do when brainstorming interviews for Finding Happiness is to investigate the places, people and events we typically walk by but don’t really see. Has someone been on the news all week? Forget it. Is a restaurant’s dish world-famous? Pass. While those are incredible topics, people have seen them already. They already know the scoop. Interview the stories that have yet to be told. The busker you walk by playing music at your local market. The founder of an incredible non-profit you would love to support. The theatre owner supporting local artists. These are the people in your community who deserve to have their story told. Take these tips and create ways to tell them!

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Explore Other Options

If interviews are not applicable to your brand or business, it’s important to still explore other types of video content to include in your social media strategy. In fact, by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco. Here are a few ideas for other social media videos you can implement:

Tutorials: Brand’s like Buzzfeed’s Tasty have this one perfected! Short, captions and showing the finished product at the beginning to draw users in.

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Customer Testimonial Videos: Telling others how great your services are isn’t effective, but when others do, it is! Be sure to include visual examples of your work, interviews and other striking visuals to keep viewers engaged. Bonus points for McKesson for also including illustrations – very creative!

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Product Videos: Is your service or product a tool customers will have to learn how to use, or a new idea many have not tried yet? Project Management programs such as Asana and Monday do an excellent job showing potential customers how simple their programs are to navigate – something that would not translate well in written form.


Live Videos: Don’t just tell people how great your event is, show them! Social Motto does this each year for the Eastern Market’s Flower Day. Going live at an event can entice people to attend next time (or hurry over if there’s still time left!)

Kimberly Stricker

Kim Stricker, the founder and lead social media strategist at Social Motto, possesses over two decades of specialized experience in B2B social media marketing. Her expertise lies in harnessing the power of social media platforms to drive business-to-business engagement and growth. Kim’s strategic approach blends innovative social media tactics with in-depth knowledge of B2B marketing dynamics, making her an adept at crafting impactful digital campaigns and social media storytelling that effectively connect businesses with their professional target audiences.
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