Which Video Format Should I Choose? Landscape vs. Square vs. Portrait [Guide]

Which Video Format Should I Choose? Landscape vs. Square vs. Portrait [Guide]

How do you choose the right video formation for a social media post?

With options to create videos in Landscape, Portrait, and Square mode, it is often confusing. To top it all, there are multiple popular devices and platforms used today. It is difficult to predict which format would work best for your business and audience.

Source: Strategico.io

Let’s Get Data Right

  • Facebook is the largest social network with 1.74 billion users operating the network using mobile devices. Of this humongous number, 5 percent are mobile-only users.
  • Square videos have a steady 78 percent user base compared to landscape videos in mobile newsfeed. In fact, square videos outperform landscape videos by almost 54 percent view-through rates for the first ten seconds of any video. In addition, square videos also lead to 30 to 35 percent higher video views with 80 to 100 percent rise in user engagement.
  • Users prefer watching vertical video ads 9 times more than horizontal video ads using Snapchat.
  • A study conducted with 25000 top performing Facebook video ads showed that only 30.9 percent of videos were landscape whereas 3 percents were either square videos or vertical videos.
  • Square videos on Instagram are 33 percent less expensive for engaging with users on Instagram.

In a bid to find out what makes successful videos on social media, we have narrowed the following results:

  • There are many ways to create videos
  • The video format is crucial for success
  • Video length, captions, content, and graphics are some of the important elements that contribute largely to the success of video content
  • Square 1:1 video acquires 78% more real estate in users’ mobile newsfeed compared to landscape 16:9 video

As there is a steady demand for mobile content, and the trend is rising, there are a lot of scopes.

Video Marketing Strategy 2019

Source: buffer.com

Mobile and videos are the most popular tools of social media marketing. Here’s what you need to know:

1: Steady Rise in Mobile Content Use

According to VentureBeat research, Facebook alone boasts 1.09 billion active mobile users daily. The figure shows a 22 percent rise year on year. It means over 92 percent of all Facebook users access video content via mobile, which makes it critical that digital businesses optimize content for mobile users.

This is a massive shift of platforms – from desktop to mobile. It is crucial to understand various marketing strategies and tactics catering to a mobile audience, which sets brands apart.

Tip: Exploring different mobile video formats is one of the many ways of delivering content to users. Mobile apps, email, geotags, mobile-optimized websites, and QR codes are some of the tactics marketers should consider to move ahead in the cutthroat competitive market.

Square Video Outperforms Landscape Video in Engagement & View

Studies clearly show that square videos have outperformed landscape videos on all the leading social media networks. It showed a potential increase in views, engagement – likes, shares, comments, and total rate of completion.

Tip: Irrespective of the content, video format plays a key role in the number of people watching a video, the amount of time they spend watching the video, and their willingness to engage with the videos.

When Should I Use Landscape (Horizontal) Videos?

Landscape, or horizontal videos, is the traditional format. This format is perfect for desktop as well as TV users.

However, before you decide on the format, you have to determine your audience base – who are your viewers? Are they primarily desktop users? Are they going to watch videos on TV?

If yes, the landscape is the format you should choose without a second thought.

The landscape is also the optimum video format for websites, landing pages, and blogs.

Even though the YouTube mobile app supports various other formats of videos, the main YouTube player is landscape. Hence, it is best to stay with the landscape for YouTube. You can try other formats but it would display videos with black bars on both sides.

Optimize landscape views with these tips:

  • Use horizontal video for desktop and TV ads
  • Use aspect ratio 16:9 for desktop video and YouTube video ads
  • Choose 1280 X 720 pixels as the ideal dimension 

When Should In Use Square Video Format?

While landscape videos are popular, square videos are no less. Square video format utilizes a 1:1 aspect ratio. Instagram made this format popular in 2015. Since then, it has become a very effective video format all across social networks.

On every social network, square videos work better than landscape videos. If you want to create a branded video to post it across multiple social networks, you should choose a square format. Compared to traditional landscape videos, square videos generally occupy more space in the newsfeed. As a result, it removes distractions to create a seamless and immersive viewing experience.

Consequently, square videos have a higher number of viewers, though a lot of it depends on the platform too. For instance, Facebook square videos cost 7.5 percent lesser than horizontal videos when it comes to engagement. Likewise, it costs 33 percent more to engage viewers with a square video on other platforms like Instagram. The substantial difference is a crucial factor for social media marketing.

Optimize square videos with these tips:

  • Square videos are perfect for videos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and timeline posts
  • Maintain 1:1 aspect ratio for all square videos
  • Choose 1080 X 1080 pixels as the ideal dimensions for videos

When Should I Use Portrait (Vertical) Videos?

Portrait, or vertical videos, is a relatively new feature. The format was developed to ensure smartphone screens are filled entirely. It mainly targets social media platforms, mobile devices, and web browsers. Some videos are traditionally shot using vertical dimensions, but it is fast becoming a necessity for marketing.

Snapchat was the first social media platform that primarily used vertical videos. Since Snapchat became popular, Facebook and Instagram retooled this popular feature to create Facebook stories and Instagram stories. In fact, these ads take optimum advantage of the only fact that 90 percent of all mobile users are vertically oriented, which includes social media usage.

Vertical videos, today, have a much greater organic reach with more engagement than horizontal videos and ads.

Fortunately, both Instagram and Facebook vertical dimensions are the same, just like Snapchat. As a result, all platforms also share similar vertical video specifications.

Optimize portrait videos with these tips:

  • Use portrait videos for stories and ads on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram
  • Use 9:16 aspect ratio for portrait videos
  • Ideal dimensions for portrait video is 1080 X 1920 pixels

3 Additional Tips

1: Text-only vs. Talking-head Videos

Text-only videos perform better on Facebook as well as on Twitter. These videos are informative and easier to digest. Furthermore, these also increase the completion rate.

However, if you are mainly mobile, the nature of consumption may be different. Mobile content consumption favors both talking-head as well as text-only videos.

2: Increasing Viewership and Opening Images

The ideal way of increasing viewership on videos is to include an image or a video with a descriptive text. For instance, the text-only introduction can reduce the number of views dramatically to any video. So, you must bear that in mind.

3: Video Length & Engagement is Important

Lastly, you must focus on the length of a video to make sure viewers do not lose their interest. Remember, the longer a video, the more chances of engagement it has. As such, marketers should experiment with timing variations and figure out what is more engaging with their audiences.

A quick example: Instagram advertising allows a maximum of 60-seconds videos, which is impressive.

Mobile Video Advertising – The Format That Rules

There cannot be a debate on the best format as it is mainly dictated by the platform you choose to display the ads. It is crucial to run A/B tests on different formats as well. The idea is to run the same ad at the same time in each format across one platform for the same audience. Though it’s yet not possible, it might soon happen.

For now, let’s check out some of the latest trends in social network video, platforms, and advertising.

Popular Facebook Video Formats

The past year has been phenomenal for Facebook. The social network giant aimed to keep user attention away from YouTube. Although YouTube is not the only competition, there was a tough fight. To retain their status of social mogul, Facebook started adjusting the way of shooting videos too.

Facebook is always observing Snapchat very closely. It is reacting to the changes in Snapchat vertical video format and engagement rates. To shift from a mobile video first social platform, Facebook has now standardized its 2:3 aspect ratio instead of the 1:1 square format. Due to this change, videos fill more screen space when they scroll through this app, which creates a much stronger engagement rate. However, Facebook has not been able to include the vertical video format as strongly as Snapchat.

Some tests show that vertical videos increase user engagement, mainly when videos are watched with sound.

Yes, Snapchat has impressive figures, but the channel has not witnessed mainstream marketing as good as Twitter or Facebook. It’s all about sharing stories, and you should know what to share. Instead of beating around the bush, share what is engaging and informative for your audience.

Instagram Videos – Formats to Know

Instagram is also a part of Facebook. Zuckerberg acquired this immensely popular social media channel that mainly handles images and videos. It is an emerging social app with more than 10 billion video views daily. So, if you want to grab user attention and inspire your audience, this is the place to be.

Instagram introduced a host of new features over the past year. While this app mainly supported the square images of 1:1 format and the same for videos, they brought in some changes in 2016. They realized that vertical format was a necessity to compete in this market.

In came Instagram Live and Instagram Stories with new video format, thus taking the app to the front seat. With more than 300 million active users daily checking their Insta feed, it is quite clear that this new format of videos is here to stay.

Horizontal Video Tips

  • While recording a horizontal video, always focus on what your viewers see. If you want to record the video yourself, position yourself in the center. If you are recording a product or anything similar, place it in such a way so that viewers know what to focus on while they are watching the video. When you are watching or recording the video, remover to consider the background.
  • Recording horizontal videos usually seem unnatural compared to vertical videos. Look into the camera and not in the middle part of the phone. It reduces awkwardness and gets your target audience.
  • While capturing a video, you may want to draw attention to something so that it stands out. You may zoom into an object or play with the “zoom” feature further. However, make sure not to overdo the whole thing. Instead of zooming in, use your smartphone’s mobility to move a little closer to that object.

Vertical Video Tips

  • Your camera becomes your audience. So, look into the camera while holding the phone at the eye level. If you want to target your audience, the first few seconds are going to be crucial. In case you are not recording the video yourself but a product, think of the connection people develop from eye-to-eye contact and incorporate the same into your videos.
  • When you record a vertical video, you can personalize it as well. Focus on the front-facing camera to key customer’s attention. If you are giving an introductory dialogue or greeting your recipients, it increases your chances of receiving a reply to the message. It also augments the scope of buying a product and paying for the service.
  • Quality is the key factor for any visual medium, which includes a video. Even if the message content is good, its technical quality affects the attitude of viewers towards what they see. It is equally important to monitor how you communicate. The ultimate goal of an ad is to ensure a purchase. To achieve that, you have to provide excellent quality of videos.

Overall Summary

Video content is popular and the most widely accepted format for reaching your audience. Subsequently, social media content use is moving to mobile exclusively. Because of this transition from desktop to smartphones, businesses are thriving since 2017 and looking way beyond video content optimization.

One of the best ways to optimize video content for mobile users is by creating and distributing square (1:1) video. It is a proven fact the square format outperforms landscape. The space of mobile news feed is premium, but the key focus area is on video content.

From the marketing viewpoint, we recommend you to start experimenting with square videos for social media. There are many products out there such as Adobe Premiere and After Effects for transforming the landscape-style videos into square video clips.

Understand that there are millions and millions of people watching videos. Most of them prefer the upright position. Marketers should thus prepare to include the video format into their production books as well as spend money to promote it on various social networking channels. It is highly likely that advertising the video formal would be the norm in the near future.

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