Does your business record vertical videos for social media?
In years gone by, recording and uploading video with the camera held vertically was looked upon with ridicule, producing big black bars either side of the picture and a narrow viewing angle, guaranteed to turn viewers off.
But times are changing.
In this post, I’m going to lay out five reasons why your business should be experimenting with vertical video for social media marketing in 2017, and the potential benefits it can bring.
1. People naturally hold their phones vertically
Obvious, but important.
If we strip smartphones back to their most basic function – giving users the ability to make and receive phone calls – the design of modern smarphones simply follows the tradition of “dumb” phones from decades past; that the device should be held vertically so that the user can speak and listen with minimal fuss. TV and cinema, meanwhile – the dominant visual media for so long – have demanded that the picture is viewed horizontally for the best experience. And so, despite all the things smartphones can now do, we’re historically conditioned to hold phones vertically and view video horizontally.
We’ve been stuck between two competing worlds, but times are changing.
For some hard facts, look to the MOVR Mobile Overview Report from December 2014, which found, unsuprisingly, that smartphone users hold their phones vertically about 94% of the time.
Image credit: Form Meets Function
With the huge increase in mobile-recorded video content online in recent years, it’s no surprise that vertical device usage also on the up.
A 2016 study by KPCB Research showed that people in the US are now spending 29% of time using vertically-held devices, up from just 5% in 2010. And since people are holding these devices vertically for most tasks, it makes sense that they’ll play video that way, too.
2. People access social media on mobile the most
Not only are the vast majority of mobile apps designed with the assumption that users will be interacting while holding their smartphone vertically, but its increasingly where people are spending their time on social media.
comScore’s 2016 U.S. Cross-Platform Future in Focus study showed that nearly 80% of social media use now occurs on mobile devices – 61% on smartphones alone.
In addition, by 2018 in the US, the gap between desktop and mobile Internet use is predicted to grow to people spending 3 hours and 20 minutes using the Internet on their phone, compared to just 40 minutes on the computer.
As a business, your content needs to be built in a way that caters best to how it is being consumed.
3. Social networks are vertical video-friendly
If we look at how vertical video renders on social apps, we see something interesting.
As of February 2017:
- Facebook – Vertical videos publish with no black borders
- Instagram – Vertical videos publish with no black borders
- Snapchat – Vertical videos publish with no black borders
- Twitter – Vertical videos publish with no black borders
- YouTube – The Android version of the app hides black borders when device is held vertically and video is viewed in full screen
Rather than looking upon vertical video as a negative, social networks – even YouTube – are embracing the format. There’s no way they’re going to be able force people to film in landscape mode without really annoying them(as YouTube used to do), so why not make the viewing experience (inferior to landscape mode as it may be) as optimum as it can be?
And there are other benefits. When it comes to watching live video, viewers holding their phones vertically can engage with reactions and comments in a way that’s natural to them.
Rolling out the 2:3 ratio of vertical video on Facebook in August 2016 (rather than cropping vertical videos into squares), a Facebook representative told Marketing Land at the time that:
“We know that people enjoy more immersive experiences on Facebook, so we’re starting to display a larger portion of each vertical video in News Feed on mobile.”
Facebook wants people to stay on its platform, so it will do whatever it can to suit their needs.
Instagram’s roll-out of vertical video last year shared a similar sentiment.
“Square format has been and always will be part of who we are. That said, the visual story you’re trying to tell should always come first, and we want to make it simple and fun for you to share moments the way you want to.”