Posted 06.17.2020 by Maddy Osman

10 Tips for Rocking Vertical Video on Social in 2020

Here are our 10 best tips for using vertical video to build relationships with your audience while driving ROI. 👇

Savvy brands pursue modern tactics to keep up with the constantly changing ways that consumers interact with social media. They know it’s an essential part of staying in the game.

When it comes to video marketing and how to incorporate a video marketing strategy at your company, vertical video is that essential modern tactic.

We’ll break down why as well as our 10 best tips for how to start rocking vertical video in your own content marketing, but first…

What is Vertical Video?

Vertical video is a specific video presentation style using portrait orientation instead of landscape. To put this into context, Youtube videos are typically shot and edited in landscape orientation, while TikTok videos and Instagram stories use 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, Facebook, and, most recently, TikTok.

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. Clarity Guerra, Creative Media Manager & Producer at the University of Iowa, recommends 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. Furthermore, 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 rates 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.

10 Tips for Using 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.

Here are our 10 best tips to help your brand rock vertical video on social:

1. 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 equal 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 U Iowa’s Clarity Guerra, “Budget is often a barrier for smaller groups, for smaller businesses. Having one super highly produced, polished, cinematic thing that’s 30 seconds long might not be as valuable as something you can shoot [consistently] with your phone.”

The only people who really care about the nitty gritty of 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.

The takeaway? Don’t be afraid to get started with a DIY budget. You can always 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.

2. 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.

facebook-vertical-video-formats

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):

3. 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.

4. Connect in Real Time with a Live Stream

Live broadcasting is another popular new focus of video marketing that can prove ideal for implementing a vertical video strategy on a budget — especially during the age of social distancing when plenty of live events are being shifted to virtual platforms.

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

5. Optimize Vertical Video for Viewing without Sound

Did you know that most people don’t watch videos on social media with the sound on? Specifically, Digiday reports that 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound. In fact, most social networks auto-play videos on mute by default.

Adding captions not only makes for a better user experience, it makes your content more accessible for people with disabilities and can also help with YouTube SEO.

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.

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

In addition to having your video make sense without sound, you need to optimize it to quickly capture attention.

Knowing that the average social media user continuously scrolls until they’re bored (or finds something better to do), your video needs to prove its value right away. And we do mean right away.

According to Sid Singh, Founder & Creative Director at Vert Motion, those first few seconds of play time are crucial. “And the longer a video is the better your hook has to be. I think you can have a really long video on social media and have it be successful but you really have to sell it in those first five seconds in order to actually get engagement.”

7. 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 drive the viewer to like, comment, and share
  • Emotional: to invoke an emotional response – happy, sad, shocked, etc.
  • Educational: to provide value to the viewer and help them process and retain the content
  • Empathetic: to develop trust with the viewer through human empathy

8. Treat Each Channel as Unique

According to Ian Servin, the Creative Director at Brafton, Inc., “You can’t treat social as a sort of second class citizen. You have to actually treat every [social] channel the same way that you would treat every other channel and you have to go all out… It’s not just a place to simulcast your other content.”

Instead, approach 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.

9. Use the Right Tools to Create Vertical Video

On a budget?

Here’s some good news:

If you’re an Apple user, iMovie is already installed on your Mac and free to download for your mobile devices. It’s an easy to use tool for editing your videos to get the right dimensions and aspect ratio for vertical video, add additional elements, captions, and more.

Windows users used to have Windows Movie Maker which was phased out with the upgrade to Windows10. You can still do basic video editing in the Video Editor tab of the native Photos app, though. It’s a bit clunky, but you can add text, filters, background audio, and – most importantly – set the aspect ratio for vertical video.

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.
  • InShot is a powerful tool for mobile editors and is particularly useful for editing IG Stories and TikTok videos. You can create smooth transitions, apply filters, and change the aspect ratio of video shot on your phone without having to spend time uploading to your desktop.
  • Split Video is another mobile tool that’s great for repurposing longer form vertical video for Instagram Stories. The app cuts your video into multiple clips of 15 seconds or fewer (as required by IG Stories) and then exports them to your camera roll, ready to upload.
  • Mojo, also great for the mobile editor, is another excellent tool for making Instagram Stories that pop. Their template library makes creating beautiful, animated IG Stories a breeze.

10. Be an Early Adopter of New Channels

If you’ve been paying attention, then you know that TikTok is the new kid on the block when it comes to social media channels. Still on the fence about whether you need to incorporate TikTok into your brand’s social strategy? We wrote a whole post diving into why you should (or shouldn’t) give TikTok a try.

We mentioned before that it’s important to consider each social media channel as unique and develop content accordingly. This is particularly important in the case of TikTok not only because the style of content made on the platform is so new and different but also because of the vertical aspect ratio. Non-vertical video content adapted for TikTok simply doesn’t do well, because it’s clear that it was not made with the parameters of the app in mind.

If you do want to repurpose video content, we suggest taking content you’ve made for TikTok and using it on other channels or to inform your content strategy for other channels – TikTok is a great place to test out experimental content and keep an eye on trends.

Another vertical video platform that is potentially on the rise is IGTV.

While it’s been around for a while, IGTV hasn’t been drawing viewership in the same numbers as YouTube, Twitch, and other platforms where creators have been able to build large audiences around their serialized content.

That might be changing after Instagram’s announcement in May 2020 that they’re launching monetization tools for creators. The hope is that IGTV will actually become a contender for viewership now that creators can be compensated for publishing content there.

With that in mind, now is a good time to start looking into how IGTV content can fit into your content strategy – what types of series can you produce for your Instagram audience? How can you repurpose that content into smaller, snackable clips for your other channels?

Plenty of food for thought.

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

Using vertical video on social media is just another facet of mobile first marketing. It’s all about meeting your audience where they are and creating content that makes sense for how they view it.

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.

Still feeling stuck? Check out this video from our live event series, Let’s Get Digital, for more about how to implement vertical video as part of your B2B social media strategy and video strategy in general.

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

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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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