Social Media Videos Go Viral : What Authors Need to Know

By Anna Gray for New Shelves on August 2, 2021
By Anna Gray for New Shelves on August 2, 2021

Video content, both long form and short form, is increasing in popularity on social media and platforms are noticing. People of all ages and demographics want to connect with the content they are consuming and video content makes that much easier. With Instagram’s most recent announcement of a shift towards highlighting video content, it’s important to make sure your marketing strategy is keeping up with current social media trends.

Algorithms tend to favor video content since it keeps people on the app for a longer period of time than a picture or a paragraph of text. This increased interaction with your content will boost your presence on the app. Now this doesn’t mean you want your videos to be as long as possible every single time, but you do want to catch people’s eyes so they stop scrolling to watch. You’ll want to tailor the length and format of the video to the platform you are posting on.

When it comes to posting video content, you have a few different platform options. These include YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Each platform functions very differently, let’s take a look.


YouTube is the place to be for long form video content online. While you are able to post vertical videos on YouTube, horizontal format is recommended. With very few time restrictions, you can share longer videos such as book trailers, interviews, and podcasts.

Growth on YouTube happens very slowly so it’s important to make sure you are sharing links to your YouTube videos on your other social media platforms for the best engagement. If you are looking to increase the exposure on your videos, you can adapt your YouTube content to fit the shorter time restrictions of other platforms by posting a snippet or trailer to IGTV, Reels, or Facebook.

Video Dimensions: 1280 x 720 pixels minimum, 1920 x 1080 pixels maximum


The Facebook video algorithm is based on watch time and video completion rate. Facebook prioritizes content that keeps users looking for longer, which means you want people to stop and watch your video in its entirety if possible. Ideally you want people to watch at least a minute of your video. Facebook also boosts videos that are longer than 3 minutes.

The ideal video length is all subjective to your audience, so it might take some trial and error to find your sweet spot. Organic growth is not as easy on Facebook compared to other social media platforms. That doesn’t mean it should be ignored, but don’t expect to go viral overnight on Facebook.

Video Dimensions: 1280 x 720 pixels (720 x 1280 pixels for vertical videos)


Instagram recently announced a push towards video content, so it’s important to take that into consideration when you’re planning your future posts. Instagram has two sub-sections for video sharing in addition to the main feed – IGTV for long form and Reels for short form. Videos posted to IGTV have to be at least one minute and can be up to 15 minutes in length. Reels on the other hand have a maximum time of one minute, but are easy to make right in the Instagram app. To maximize your presence in the Instagram algorithm, you will want to be posting to both IGTV and Reels. It’s also important that you pay close attention to what hashtags you are using under your videos. Use hashtags that are specific to your book genre as well as general reading hashtags to reach the widest audience. (If you aren't sure where to get started with hashtags, try the free Hashtags for Writers tool over at

Since IGTV videos are long form, they will need to be created in a third party app or video editing program much like YouTube videos. Reels do not require a third party app and you can create your own Reels right in the Instagram app with all the great video editing features. This video tutorial breaks down each feature and how you can use it to create eye-catching Reels:

Video Dimensions: 1080 x 1920 pixels


There is no denying that TikTok is running the short form video game. These vertical videos can range from 15 seconds to 3 minutes in length, with the most common length being around 1 minute. Creating TikTok videos is easy with convenient in-app tools. The TikTok algorithm is honed in on each user’s individual likes and dislikes as well as their geographic location to reach their own communities by both interest and distance. This makes finding and connecting with your audience incredibly easy. This has created many mini-communities within the app.

Something special about TikTok, especially for the book lovers, is the #BookTok community. #BookTok has 14.6B views and counting. With the possibility of this many eyes landing on your book, you’re sure to find some readers! Make sure to use #BookTok in your caption along with #[insert your genre here] to maximize exposure.

All you need to make a TikTok is the TikTok app, an account, and some time. The in-app editing features give you everything you need to make an awesome video. If you’re not sure where to start, this video gives an awesome step-by-step tutorial on how to create your very own TikToks:

Video Dimensions: 1080 × 1920 pixels

Final Thoughts

Video content is an excellent way to connect with your audience on a much more personal level. The videos you share don’t have to be overly fancy, but they should be edited well and formatted correctly. This will up your social media credibility and how frequently people are seeing your content. Don’t wait any longer, create some awesome videos and get your book out there!


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