Affordable tool for making engaging social videos

As the owner of a two-person digital marketing consultancy, I recently realized:

  1. I need the equivalent of a QuickBooks for video -- something I could use almost immediately to create fun, social-media videos, and
  2. For these short, quick-hit videos, it doesn't make sense to turn to my 16-year-old filmmaker son for studio-quality video production. (His work is great, so go to if you're looking for creativity and production value on a budget).

I had two primary purposes: creating short content-marketing videos for our digital consulting business and clients, and creating simple product demos of a new app I'm building.

The tool I settled on, at least for a free trial, is called Animoto, at Its plans are listed as $8/mo for personal, $22/mo for professional and $34/mo for the full business license (as of Aug 2017). I'll post a few results once I try it out, but I thought I'd post what I'd found to help anyone with similar needs.


Do you use Animoto, or another service that you like? If so, please let me know in the comments.

Video spans a huge landscape of solutions and services, and I also learned about next-level capabilities, such as how to manage a large library of video content or deploy video in sophisticated sales and marketing campaigns (see more below).

The first critical step to selecting a tool is to refine your requirements. Here are the ones I settled on for creating short, engaging videos intended for social media, such as Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter and Facebook. These led me to Animoto.

  • A simple drag and drop interface for building a video timeline from my own video clips and photos, including simple previewing and editing
  • Built-in access to music, with rights and royalties included in the subscription fee to the tool
  • Flexible output formats for different devices and screens
  • Voice-over recording capability
  • Text / overlay editing and animations
  • An affordable monthly license fee that I could cancel at any time
  • A free-trial period to make sure it did what I needed before providing payment info

Soon, I may need a finer level of control, and if that's the case, I will research consumer and professional-grade video editing software such as iMovie, Adobe Premier and After Effects, etc. But the whole point was to find something very simple and inexpensive.

In doing this research, I learned about solutions for problems I don't have yet, so I might as well share what I learned in case you have these needs:

  1. Recording screen video. I realized I can just use QuickTime on my Mac to record screen videos, and CNET posted a piece on how to get audio, too: Third-party software is plentiful, but I stopped after I learned about QuickTime.
  2. Video content management systems. In a former life, I had a good experience with BrightCove (, which we used as for global news video management, including ad-server integration and syndication, and JW Player ( for building customized, feedable, fully branded players into apps and websites.
  3. Video marketing solutions. For sales and marketing leaders intent on growing sales using video, including integrating video analytics with marketing automation and CRM tools such as Marketo and Salesforce, two solutions that looked worth trying are Vidyard ( and BombBomb (
  4. Stock video, effects and animations. I was impressed with Digital Juice ( and Videohive (, which package up a huge variety of drag-and-drop content at a reasonable subscription price. Here's a decent round-up of 25 stock video sites (a bit outdated but comprehensive):

Need to create social videos?

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