Stand up for vertical video – how to use video in social media

17th October 2016

Vertical video now stands up as a legitimate way to share your brand story online via social media, as increasingly, audiences are creating their own videos and interacting with brand video content via their smartphones. A year or so ago, those who held their camera vertically to shoot videos were dismissed as getting it all wrong, but now with mobile, horizontal has become a hassle and it’s becoming more acceptable to go vertical.

Snapchat and Periscope led the way with vertical video rather than the traditional widescreen 16:9 ratio or square formats. Last year YouTube released updates for iOS and Android devices that play vertical videos full screen (Digiday) and publishers are following suit, for instance, BBC’s new app uses vertical video with its “10 to watch” featuring the top stories of the day. Indeed Mary Meeker’s influential Internet Trends report showed that a third (29%) of videos are viewed vertically. Vertical video has come a long way since the mocking public service announcement below (via Adweek) .

Last month Facebook introduced vertical video with results showing a lower CPM than ‘square’ video. Now that this major social media channel is offering this format, it seems even more important to think about vertical, and for a wider demographic than Gen Y and Z. In fact, vertical ads are not just for mobile but a rising star format as half-page vertical ads – twice the width of older skyscraper ads. (Digiday)

While it’s not time to completely shift to vertical video, in the age of omniscreening it is worth thinking about how vertical will allow you to better tell your brand story in the context of viewing.


“Mobile phones are vertical devices. Turning it sideways is a lot of work.” (Troy Young, Hearst Digital).

With all marketing content, it’s vital to put your audience first and that’s why vertical video is working as an advertising medium because it harnesses how the audience is using the tech.

As marketers, we need to cut through with strong content with the singular aim of targeting our chosen audience. But the context of viewing is important too, so think about how your audience will be engaging with your video on each channel it is shared on.

By using the same filming methods as your audiences are using, your content will seem more authentic, rather than an outsider pushing in to sell.

Maximise all the space

Vertical video takes up the whole screen, so it’s important that you use all the space. Here’s a playful video that makes the point:

Framing vertical videos

As filmmakers we tend to frame horizontally as the traditional format, but photography has always worked vertically too, so there is potential to capture striking visuals. Think what would work well vertically (full length shots of people, trees or tall buildings) and get creative with angles and perspective.

Original video content for vertical

With limited resources, it can be tricky to create bespoke content for each channel. In the first place, I would advise choosing the social media channels for your brand wisely. Then you can focus your efforts on creating content that works for your audience on the platforms they use. You could repurpose content designed for horizontal formats if it works. However, the ROI will be higher if you think about vertical at an earlier stage and create content that suits the particularities of the format and the channel you’re sharing it on.

If you’re looking for video content to engage your audience on social media, get in touch. Check out our latest social campaigns for Volvo for a flavour of how we can help.

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