Posted 04.22.2019 by Maddy Osman

How to Rock Vertical Video on Social for Your Brand

What is vertical video? It might just be the perfect medium for building relationships with your audience while driving ROI.

At a recent Sculpt Let’s Get Digital event, we talked to an expert panel about the merits of video marketing and best practices for incorporating a video marketing strategy at your company.

(No, this wasn’t the same event where we debunked the social media myth that video marketing is a trend — that was last month.)

This expert panel included the likes of:

To get a little meta on you, we made a video of this session about videos — give it a watch for some awesome insights and inspiration.

But while the event aimed to discuss video marketing in a general sense (with actionable takeaways, of course), it was interesting to see how the topic of vertical video began to dominate the conversation as a modern tactic that savvy brands should pursue for connecting with their audiences — and driving revenue.

What is Vertical Video?

Vertical video is a specific video presentation style that involves a portrait orientation instead of a more standard landscape orientation. To put this into context, Youtube videos are presented in landscape orientation, while Snapchat videos and Instagram stories involve portrait orientation.

The popularity of vertical video is a relatively new movement in the social media marketing space. It only recently became mainstream as the result of its use within apps that include Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.

Why Share Videos on Social Media: Video Marketing Statistics

In Animoto’s 2018 State of Social Video, video was reported as the #1 type of content that consumers want to see from brands on social media. The report also found that 57% of millennial consumers watch more video ads on social media than on TV.

You may also be interested to know that:

  • Over 1 billion hours of videos are watched on YouTube every day.
  • Facebook reported that people spend 5x more time on videos than static posts (and videos receive 59% more engagement than other post types).
  • 500 million users use Stories every day on Instagram, with an ~80% increase in the creation of video posts, year-over-year.
  • On Twitter, tweets with videos attract 10x as much engagement than those without videos. Our expert panelists recommended keeping Twitter videos short — around 15 seconds for maximum engagement.

Why Your Brand Should Focus on Vertical Videos for Social Media

With the dramatic increase of content viewing on mobile devices versus desktop, vertical videos on social media are becoming the new normal.

Think about it and it makes sense. With this new focus on vertical videos, social media video marketing is simply adapting to the way that we create and consume content. Specifically, smartphones are typically held and used vertically and smartphone videos are often shot vertically. Even YouTube has enabled a fullscreen playback feature for vertical videos, to address this.

According to MOVR’s Mobile Overview Report, smartphone users hold their phones vertically about 94% of the time. Futhermore, according to AdNews, 70% of millennials don’t bother flipping their mobile devices horizontally when watching videos on mobile.

On Instagram and Facebook, Stories are often viewed vertically and one-third of the most viewed Instagram Stories are from businesses.

Still not convinced that your business should invest in a vertical video strategy? Snapchat found that vertical video ads on the platform are watched all the way nine times more than videos with the traditional horizontal format. This is supported by Mediabrix’s research confirming that vertical videos have 90% higher completion rate than horizontal videos.

Here are a few more things worth considering:

A vertical Facebook video ad campaign launched by Hennessy resulted in CPM (cost per thousand) rates three times more efficient than their square videos. Research conducted by Buffer and Animoto has also shown that vertical videos on Facebook outperformed square videos in driving traffic.

Best Practices for Vertical Video on Social Media

Hopefully, the aforementioned vertical video stats have demonstrated that it’s not enough to make a video and hope it performs well across all platforms, regardless of its specific viewing orientation. Instead, you have to be thinking about vertical video from the very beginning of the processes around storyboarding and shooting.

These tips can help your brand rock vertical video on social:

High Production Quality is Not Necessary for Getting Results with Vertical Video

In a collaboration experiment between Smarties and Animoto, it was found that highly-produced “polished” videos don’t necessarily equate to top marketing results. The experiment involved testing a DIY video against one with a high production value.

Here’s the TL:DR; according to their research:

There was no statistical difference in performance between these two very different types of videos.

Smarties and Animoto determined that it’s more important to be constantly experimenting with different video formats and topics over dedicating a large budget to a promotional video. On a related note, if you can afford to put out more content, you’ll also have the opportunity to solicit more feedback from your audience, which can help you to improve your efforts, in general.

According to our expert panelist Clarity, it’s the budget around creating video that’s typically treated as the barrier that gets in the way of action. So come to terms with the fact that the only people who really care about production value are the people who are making the videos on your team — not the customers who you’re putting your videos in front of.

Get started today with a DIY effort — you can always add budget to create more flashy videos after you prove their effectiveness (although a larger budget may prove unnecessary!).

Still not convinced? Check out Wistia’s documentary, One, Ten, One Hundred for in-depth insights regarding the video production process for comparable videos that cost $1000, $10,000, and $100,000.

Use the Right Vertical Video Dimensions

Facebook recommends creating video with mobile in mind from the start if you’re using it to target people on mobile devices. Fair enough, right?

So… what does that actually look like, in terms of video export dimensions?

In general, square or vertical formatting increases the visibility of a video on mobile devices (because they take up more screen space), compared to horizontal formatting.


Recommendations for Facebook & Instagram Aspect Ratios

  • For Facebook and Instagram feeds: Use 4:5 aspect ratio, or 1:1.
  • For Facebook and Instagram Stories: Capture the full screen with a 9:16 video, or 4:5.
  • For video carousel format: Use 1:1 aspect ratios for all videos in a carousel.

A full chart of video requirements for the Facebook family of apps can be found here.

Overall, the ideal aspect ratio for pure-play vertical videos is 9:16 and the ideal resolution is at least 720p (best with 1080p) for exporting high-quality videos from whatever tool you use to create them.

Wondering what difference the video dimensions look like? Watch this video to learn more (featuring our Chief Doodler):

Incorporate Little Details (They Can Have a Big Impact)

There’s no denying how engaging video marketing can be.

Consider the following features and finishing touches for getting the most out of your efforts:

  • Engage your audience on Instagram Stories with interactive features like polls or the question sticker.
  • Add calls-to-action within the video to guide people towards what you want them to do next.
  • Add closed captions or burn them in. On YouTube, you can enable community translated content if your audience is global in nature.

Live broadcasting is another popular new focus of video marketing that can prove ideal for implementing a vertical video strategy on a budget.

Aside from the opportunity it provides to quickly create vertical video content, benefits realized from live video can include:

  • The ability to create urgency for a particular initiative
  • A chance to interact directly with your audience
  • The creation of authenticity
  • The opportunity to show off you/your brand’s personality
  • Higher organic reach than regular posts to the news feed

Optimize Vertical Video for Viewing without Sound

Speaking of captions… did you know that most people don’t watch videos on social media with sound? Specifically, Digiday reports that 85% of Facebook video is watched without the sound on. In fact, most social networks auto-play videos on mute by default — try it for yourself to see!

This is why hard coded captions are becoming more important and popular as part of any video marketing strategy. Furthermore, as mentioned by our expert panelist Clarity, adding captions can also help with YouTube SEO while contributing to a good user experience.

The main takeaway here? Try watching your videos without audio to see if they still make sense without that context. If they don’t, you likely won’t achieve the same amazing results made possible with good video marketing.

Capture Attention ASAP (within the First Few Seconds of Your Vertical Video)

Knowing that the average social media user continuously scrolls until they’re bored (or finds something better to do), it’s worth mentioning the importance of capturing interest as early as possible in your video.

According to our expert panelist Sid, you need to create a video that’s capable of stopping social media users in their tracks within the first few seconds of play time. Optimize your video to quickly capture attention in addition to it making sense without sound.

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Storytelling

Storytelling has always been a key facet of a great content marketing strategy, as it’s an effective way to grab people’s attention — regardless of the medium.

Tyler Lessard, the VP of Marketing at Vidyard, shares the four Es of video as they relate to storytelling:

  • Engaging: To engage in storytelling
  • Emotional: To invoke emotional responses
  • Educational: To process and retain the content
  • Empathetic: to develop trust and human empathy

Our expert panelists shared that one minute is the ideal length for vertical video. The question is — is that enough to tell a story?

To answer this question, consider the example of BarkBox, a monthly subscription box for dogs, that used Instagram Stories to put together adorable clips from a “doggie interview” between an employee and a little pug.

The implication is clear: it’s possible to share a complete brand story in as little as 15 seconds (perhaps even less).

Try creating short pieces of video content that related to each other, combining them with the Story feature on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. On Instagram, you can save this otherwise ephemeral (expiring) content as Highlights that live on your profile indefinitely.

The team at Sculpt recommends Mojo as an excellent editor tool for Instagram Stories.

Another expert panelist, Ian, also mentioned that you shouldn’t treat social as a second class citizen.

Make sure that you treat each platform as unique in terms of video formatting, social copy, and even the hashtags that you use to promote vertical videos. Ideally (/as budget and time allow), instead of using one piece of content with alternate cuts, consider filming unique content for each of your most important social channels.

Use the Right Tools to Create Vertical Video

On a budget?

Here’s some good news:

Windows Movie Maker and iMovie are already installed on your Windows or Apple computer — you can access them for free! You can use these tools to edit your videos in terms of the right dimensions and aspect ratio for vertical video, add additional elements, captions, and more.

Here’s even more good news:

You can take advantage of a vertical video strategy even if you don’t want to spend time or energy on creating your own video footage.

Check out these tools for easy social video creation:

  • Lumen5 is a video creation platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI). It empowers you to turn blog posts into attention-grabbing videos for social.
  • Shakr is an online video maker and video ad creator that empowers brands to create ROI-generating videos with ease.
  • Animoto is yet another easy online video maker. It works in terms of a drag-and-drop process that results in beautiful videos, even if you have little to no experience.

Vertical Video Inspiration: Sculpt Clients

We are all about practicing what we preach and didn’t want to end this article without sharing some inspiration for your own vertical video efforts with our B2B social media clients.

Check out a couple of our recent examples of vertical video that we’ve created for clients: Watch some examples 

Another great source of inspiration for your vertical video content? Your favorite social media influencers! Don’t be afraid to seek inspiration outside of your industry.

Final Thoughts: How Your Company Can Rock Vertical Video on Social

You don’t need professional equipment or experience to create vertical videos that effectively build relationships with customers on social media. You don’t even need a big budget to get started — just an understanding of best practices and a willingness to test ideas and respond to audience feedback.

If after reading this article you’re still feeling stuck when it comes to implementing vertical video as part of your B2B social media strategy, get in touch with the team at Sculpt for help with next steps.

For everyone else, what are some of your favorite vertical video campaigns on social media? Tweet @wearesculpt and we’ll share the coolest examples. 🙌

Maddy Osman

Maddy Osman helps businesses grow traffic and sales with content marketing. A long-time friend of Sculpt, Maddy is the founder and SEO Content Strategist at marketing firm, The Blogsmith.

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