Vertical Video: 6 Powerful Ways to Flip Social Video on its Head

Are you making vertical video as part of your social video creation for business?

If not then it's time to flip video on its head (or at least turn your phone sideways a little).

Vertical Video is here to stay and in this post we discuss why it's popular and why you should consider creating vertical videos.

6 Powerful Ways to Use Vertical Video (and flip social video on its head).
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6 Powerful Ways to Use Vertical Video (and flip social video on its head).
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Image by Shutterstock


Snapchat and Instagram Stories have changed the way we connect with each other – and with that the way businesses can engage with their audiences.  And now they are changing the way we create social video.

Instagram Stories is now at 300 Million Daily Active Users. Snapchat is at 173 Million Daily Active Users. These are no small figures.   And then if you look at Facebook having 1.74 Billion (with a “B”)  Monthly Active Users on Mobile, we're drawn to ask… what common thread ties these stats together?

The answer is: the way we consume content on these devices. Here's the thing:

We naturally hold our phones in a vertical position. Think about what this means for your video content creation.

Now, I'm not saying we need to change everything to vertical video.  YouTube, Movies at the Cinema.. these things are pretty sacred and I can't imagine them changing. We've been watching TV and movies in landscape position for more than 60 years, and that's ok.  I like it that way.

But we are evolving to communicate, engage and be entertained in new ways as well. Living mobile lives, we often communicate and consume content with our phone in a vertical position. Scrolling the Facebook newsfeed, snapping on Snapchat and watching Instagram Stories … are typically done with our phone flipped vertically.

And it kind of makes sense that content will perform better if it is created to suit the way in which people are holding their phones. Vertical video is just likely to do better on those platforms because it makes sense intuitively!

So we should optimize for vertical video on the platforms that embrace it. 

That's what this post is about. Giving you some new “options” for video so that you can leverage the fact that people are consuming video in the vertical position.

Here's 5 ways you can flip your video on it's head and start to leverage vertical video for your marketing:

5 Powerful Ways to use Vertical Video

You don't need to do all of these at once, but getting started with even just #No1 will set you up to start moving some of your video posts from16:9 to 9:16 (that's landscape video to vertical video in ratio-speak!)

#1 Start Creating Vertical Video on your Phone

It's tempting to stick with old habits and go landscape if you are capturing video. But try it in portrait mode!

If you choose to capture some video snippets in vertical format vs horizontal, then you'll have more options with some of the ideas below for showcasing your video on various platforms.

You'll see a cool way to use your vertical video footage in #3 below, but it's also great for uploading into Facebook, which brings us to:

#2  Upload Vertical Video to Facebook

It continues to be harder and harder to get organic reach on Facebook, but video is one medium that still tends to do better than any other type of post. Facebook wants us to be uploading video.

When it comes to the format for that video, square and vertical video formats are your best bet with video on Facebook (compared with horizontal).

Square video performs better than landscape video. We are 67% more likely to watch a square video to completion than a horizontal video (according to Adweek).

And vertical video is also just as successful compared to horizontal video on Facebook.  It drives 9x the engagement of horizontal video on mobile.

So how does Vertical Video Work on Facebook?  It's simple.  Not so long ago, video that was vertical was shrunk down to fit in a small square within a horizontal or square video post.  Now it defaults to 2:3 aspect ratio on both Android and iOS phones.

Vertical Video example on Facebook
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Vertical Video example on Facebook
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Click the image to see original video by Queensland

If the viewer simply taps the screen it will expand slightly further for the video to take up the entire mobile screen – no obtrusive buttons or functions get in the way, as it's optimised for user-experience.

So… keep your phone in the vertical position the next time you come across something great to capture on video!

Vertical Video Features to be Aware of on Facebook:

  • Your vertical video will display at 2:3 aspect ratio with full screen expansion with one tap!
  • Vertical videos will auto-play (so be sure to consider adding captions as many people play video with the sound off).
  • Your verical video will open in a picture-in-picture format if the person viewing the video chooses to keep scrolling while watching your video.

#3  Create Instagram Stories

It's time to get to know Instagram Stories. It's a great way to tell your brand story using a mix of images and short 15 second video snippets.

Instagram Stories is growing massively, and it's the perfect way to engage with your audience, and take them behind the scenes to meet the people behind your business.

Here's 7 Easy Ideas for Instagram Stories to get you started.

Remember you can add a mix of photos or video so taking vertical video is super important as Instagram Stories are shown in vertical format.  It's great for capturing a quick interview, going face-to camera with a tip, sharing behind the scenes, taking us on a tour or more!

And if you need a little helping hand, check out #3.

#4   Use Instagram Story Templates

I've posted about Instagram Story Templates before and they are fitting to mention here now.  Having a framework for telling your story can take the hard work out of it as you already have someething to work with.

Social Bakers use templates to share their Instagram and Industry News on Instagram Stories. All they have to do is switch out the text and image:

Social Bakers shares news - Instagram Stories for Business
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The creative team at Easil has produced a great range of Instagram Story Templates and they are adding more every day. I use them in my Instagram Stories. Here's an example of one of their templates:

Easil makes amazing, funky Instagram Story Templates that are Pro Quality and Stand Out!
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#5   Use Storeo App to Leverage Old Vertical Video

Now that we have established that you you should record vertical video and that you should post it to Instagram Stories, there's just one hitch:  Instagram Stories only allow you to upload videos from your camera roll that are less than 24 hours old.

So you can't easily do a #ThrowbackTuesday to that charity day you did with your team – because Instagram Stories won't let you upload the video into your story.  But there's a solution:

Meet Storeo.

Storeo is your new best friend when creating Instagram Stories with Vertical Video. Storeo is an iOS app that allows you to take ANY video (yes, any video, no matter how old) and upload it into Instagram Stories.

Storeo for Instragram Stories. This app will help you to share old video that's more than 24 hours old!
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You Simply upload your video from your camera roll into Storeo and it splits the video into 15 second snippets that you can then easily upload into your Instagram Story the normal way, one 15-second video splice at a time.

Congratulations.  You just hacked your way around Instagram Stories without breaking any rules!

I'm sorry I don't know any versions of this app on Android. Most of the alternatives all appear to be iOS but if you find one let me know. I just like Storeo. It works well.  

#6  Start Using Vertical Video in Your Ads

Facebook is optimising for and supporting (and promoting!) vertical video ads, so it's worth including these into your marketing mix if you are promoting content to mobile users. The same goes for Instagram where vertical video ads have been featured since November 2016.

Vertical video ads take up more space on the newsfeed, giving your brand more attention than a regular square or horitzontal ad.

Research by Facebook has shown that vertical video ads drove an increase in ad recall and users watched the ads for longer and with the sound on.  These types of results have been replicated and it's pretty clear that vertical videos outperform horizontal videos on Facebook ads –  in terms of cost per view, reach, engagement and video completion rates.

If you want to see how stunning vertical video can be in ads, check out Facebook's Canvas Ads here.  Here's one of their examples from Carnival Cruise Lines. Vertical scrolling is stunning, you can scroll left to right as well (it's just like exploring every inch of a real-life canvas!) and they are clickable too.

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Image from Facebook. Check the full article here.

I think we are seeing just a drop in the ocean of what Facebook has planned for vertical ads, so consider them for your next campaign.

BONUS TIP:  Flip Between Horizontal and Vertical with Wave

Make life easy for yourself when you are creating video for both vertical and horizontal platforms.  Wave.Video is a great tool for creating both horizontal and vertical video and it allows you to easily switch between:

  1. Horizontal video (16:9 orientation) to
  2. mobile video (2:3 orientation) and
  3. Instagram Stories Orientation (9:16 orientation).

For the most part, Wave is super intuitive and will convert video sizes really easily, capturing the best part of the video in the switch. For example, I can take a horizontal view of this video:

Wave Landscape Video - Convert Video between Landscape and Portrait very easily -
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In one click of a button, I can switch to mobile format. You can also manually move your video around to capture the right view:

Wave Mobile Format - Easily Switch between Landscape and Portrait View -Vertical Video: 6 Powerful Ways To Flip Social Video On Its Head
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Or if you want to use the video for Instagram Stories, Wave has you covered there:

Wave Instagram Story Format. Easily switch between landscape and portrait - Vertical Video: 6 Powerful Ways To Flip Social Video On Its Head
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Whatever the format you need, it's easy to switch.  Choose your videos with both formats in mind. Some will convert better than others, but you'll see what works best with some experimentation.  You can start creating vertical videos with Wave here.

Final Notes…

  1. Start simple… start with taking some more vertical footage on your phone.  Then expand it from there.
  2. It may be that some vertical videos are not showing entirely as vertical in preview and may crop to square before the user taps on it to make it full screen. Keep any text or important content to the middle section if you can, just in case it is cropped to square.
  3. Don't limit “vertical” to just vertical video. You can go vertical for images, GIFs and more!  Again, tools like Easil's templates can be great for creating GIFs.

Have fun with vertical video for your social video creation!


Over to You!

Are you using Vertical Video on Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat?

Will you start to now that you know that your customers are most likely consuming vertical video on their phones?

6 Powerful Ways to use Vertical Video and flip social video on its head
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6 Powerful Ways to use Vertical Video and flip social video on its head
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Image by Shutterstock

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Donna Moritz

Visual Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted
Donna is a Visual Content Strategist and founder of Socially Sorted, listed by Forbes as a "Top 5 Social Media Blog You Need to Know About". Donna helps brands leverage the power of visual storytelling and content strategy in their business. Her content has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Inc. & Entrepreneur and she is a speaker and trainer on visual content for the marketing and tourism industries internationally.
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