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Yes, you read that right. It might seem unnatural, but after all these years of being told to hold your mobile sideways to take video, horizontal is now out and vertical is in. Social media videos are a’changin’.

It’s a fact that people will spend most of their time browsing social media on their mobiles. Compared to desktop and tablets, smartphones have raced ahead as the dominant device, taking 61% of the share in a December 2015 survey. (1) As a business, you’ll want your content to be geared towards the way it is most often being consumed. Businesses should always make things as easy as possible for their customers!

Not convinced? If you are including video content in your marketing, here’s our summary of the benefits of implementing vertical social media videos this year:

People hold their phones vertically

It might seem obvious, but the first important reason is that people hold their smartphones vertically. If you’re surfing the internet, scrolling on social media, or even reading this article on your mobile, you’re probably holding your phone vertically, too. You’re not alone – 94% of the global population favour portrait orientation over landscape. (1)

The design of the modern smartphone mirrors the traditional landline handset, and, in general, we still tend to handle them in the same way. Although modern smartphones do allow for screen rotation, operating systems and apps favour a vertical view. Since people are holding their phone vertically for more tasks, it makes sense that they’ll watch social media videos that way too.

Social networks are embracing vertical videos

As of February 2017, social media platforms themselves are moving away from penalising the vertical format. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter now all publish vertical videos with no black borders, and the Android version of the YouTube app hides black borders when the device is held vertically.

Something else to consider is that when watching a Facebook Live video, viewers will be holding their phones vertically to engage through reactions and comments. Facebook Live is a great tool that we’re encouraging more businesses to use. There are endless possibilities, from showing off a new product to an interactive FAQs session. Facebook notifies followers when you’ve gone live so it can draw good attention to your page. Plus it gets posted to your page immediately afterwards to carry on generating views.

If you’re uploading a video to YouTube, on the other hand, you should go horizontal. If you film vertical, you will have those big black bars down the side. Facebook and YouTube are in a bit of a war with each other over social media videos. You may have noticed that if you paste a YouTube link into your Facebook status update, Facebook will not pull an accompanying image through anymore nor let you upload one manually. So you end up with a post that looks totally bland. Facebook wants to you to host your videos with them, not YouTube.

Vertical video ads convert better

When it comes to advertising on social platforms, Snapchat has spearheaded the vertical video movement. They say that vertical video ads have up to 9x more completed views than horizontal video ads, an impressive difference. (3)

Facebook’s vertical video ads went live last September, and some case studies have so far proved that the cost is three times ‘more efficient for vertical video than square video’, signifying that the content has a higher view, share and engagement rate. (4)

The message to take away is that you should be communicating your brand in a way that fits your phone. If you can make the experience as immersive as possible, while also taking up most of the screen, you’re onto a winner.

instagram tips for local businesses

(1)   Sterling, G. (2016) Nearly 80 per cent of social media time now spent on mobile devices – Marketing Land. Available from: http://marketingland.com/facebook-usage-accounts-1-5-minutes-spent-mobile-171561 [Accessed 13th February 2017]

(2)   MOVR Mobile Overview Report October – December 2014. Scientiamobile. Available online as a free PDF. [Accessed 13th February 2017]

(3)   Steinberg, J. (2015) Vertical Video – Medium. Available from: https://medium.com/@jonsteinberg/vertical-video-86a68c45ac06#.cqfgmvs3d [Accessed 13th February 2017]

(4)   Heine, C. (2016) Facebook Vertical Video Ads Just Went Live and Are Evidently Producing Great Results – Adweek. Available from: http://www.adweek.com/digital/facebook-vertical-video-ads-just-went-live-and-are-producing-great-results-173276/ [Accessed 13th February 2017]

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