What’s the most effective way to demo a product using social media? It can be challenging when you consider that the attention span of the average user is less than 8 seconds. A full product demo is too long. The best way is to make a shorter, more focused and engaging product demo.
In this article we’re going to walk you through making an awesome, highly engaging product demo for social media.
1. Video or GIF?
The first step is deciding the right format to produce the demo. The two most common solutions are video and animated GIF. Choosing the right one is important because it will ultimately affect the style of the demo, and the options you have available.
Video (left) vs GIF (right) quality comparison
Video is generally the better choice because of its higher quality. The range of colors is virtually unlimited, and animation is very smooth at 29 fps.
Animated GIFs are easier to share than video, but have several limitations. Limited to 256 colors, you’re usually forced to use a flat design style with no photography. GIFs are limited to 500 frames (15-20s), and even at 24fps, the result feels slightly choppy.
2. Animation or Screen Recordings?
The next step is deciding whether the demo will be composed of screen recordings or a custom animation.
Screen recordings will get the job done quickest and easiest, but are not as attractive as animations. This involves using screen capture software to record a user’s interactions with the product. Screen recordings will likely make your product demo look too much like a tutorial, and usually need some kind of voiceover to add any excitement. If you want to try this option, here are some free screen recorders to help:
For dynamic, engaging results, animations are going to be your best option. The process is more time consuming, but the control and flexibility it affords is worth the effort. You can create unique ways to emphasize key product features and add excitement any way you like. The only drawback is animations take longer to compose, and it can be a tedious process when applying revisions.
The third step is planning and drawing up a storyboard. While it is tempting to cover every feature of your product, the key is to keep it short and highly engaging. Cover only the most essential features, then provide links for viewers to find additional details. Ask yourself: what makes your product awesome? What does it have that competitors don’t? The trick is to find the right balance between informative and memorable.
There’s no right or wrong way to storyboard your product demo as long as it’s in a format that works best for you and your team. What worked best for our team was to make high fidelity comps in Sketch.
With this format it was easy for everyone to review the product demo and get a good idea of the look and feel. With Sketch it was easy for the animator to export graphics for the final video.
4. General Tips
Here are some general tips to keep in mind when storyboarding your demo:
- Keep text to an absolute minimum. Let the animation (or screen recording) do the talking.
- To decrease visual noise, when possible isolate the areas of the product to focus on key features in action. Hide or ghost out areas of the product that are not in use. View below for an example.
- It’s essential for click or touch gestures to be highly visible and clear. Sometimes you may have to put a glow or highlight around a button to bring it into focus.
- Be highly conscious of pacing. You know how the product works, but viewers need you to gently usher them through the movements and interactions. Move too quickly, and you might lose them. Move too slowly and they’ll simply move on.
- Voiceover narration is helpful, but not required.
If you chose to create an animation, Adobe Animate (formerly Adobe Flash) and Adobe After Effects are great options which specialize in animation. Both programs can make your animation cool with 3D rotation effects and smooth with tween easing.
If you chose to create a compilation of screen recordings, professional video software is essential for the best result. I recommend Final Cut Pro (Mac) or Adobe Premiere. There are free video editors out there, but we discourage using them to avoid ending up with an unmarketable, low-quality result.
The most challenging part of the demo is finalizing the pace. You don’t want it to be too fast or too slow. Get as many people as you can to look over the finished demo. Gather feedback on the pace to perfect the timing of every slide in your demo.
Here’s an example of a product demo by Wrecking Ball:
The following are some details pertaining to uploading video or animated GIFs to social media:
- Facebook: Upload video to take advantage of autoplay. Animated GIFs cannot be uploaded. Rather, GIFs need to be hosted elsewhere (i.e. on Tumblr) then copy their direct URL over.
- Twitter: You can upload video or an animated GIF, but you’re limited to 30 seconds duration. If your product demo exceeds 30 seconds then you must upload it to YouTube or Vimeo to share on Twitter.
- Tumblr: Videos and animated GIFs can be uploaded.
- Pinterest & Google+: Animated GIFs can be uploaded. Video cannot be uploaded; you need to share from YouTube.
- Instagram: Animated GIFs cannot be uploaded unless converted to video. Videos can only be up to 15 seconds duration.
- Blogs: You can do whatever you want, however you want. If you’re using GIFs be careful with file sizes, as GIFs can easily bulk up to large sizes.
Wherever possible, upload your product demo directly to social media, versus uploading to YouTube and then sharing to social media. Many social sites already autoplay videos/animations, which means the viewer doesn't need a secondary click to view your work.
In this article we discussed the technical requirements, planning, and strategy involved to make the best demo of a product for the most effective promotion on social media. Remember, the most effective social media demos need to be short and sweet. Avoid the temptation to throw in too much information. Be mindful of the small details pertaining to publishing on specific social media. By exercising all of these concepts and ideas, you will have yourself an awesome product demo!