March 12, 2018 Katherine Haas

Why a Square Video Format Works Best for Social

It’s no secret that video has taken over as the most captivating digital medium. According to WordStream, video accounted for 69 percent of all global consumer internet traffic in 2017, and it is expected to account for 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2019. In addition, one-third of all internet activity involves watching video, and 87 percent of digital marketers are currently using video content in their marketing strategies. A variety of factors affect whether or not a video is successful, including length, content, copy and our focus today—format. A square video format tends to work better for social media as opposed to landscape—and here’s why.

Square video takes up 78 percent more space in a person’s mobile newsfeed than landscape video. For that reason primarily, square video is the recommended format for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Think about it: If a social media user is scrolling through his or her newsfeed, then a video that takes up more space on the screen will take up more scroll time, increasing the chance that he or she will stop to watch it. Landscape videos are wider than they are tall, but mobile screens are taller than they are wide, so it makes sense.

Social media management platform Buffer and video creation program Animoto recently teamed up to test whether the square video format theory was actually viable. The team created and tested videos that varied in timing, topic and format, but kept all other variables consistent to yield fair results. All videos were also targeted to the same audience demographics. Read more about the specifics of the study.

Among the square video format, landscape video format and letterbox video format (landscape videos letterboxed into a square player), square video outperformed the others in the study in terms of views, engagement and completion rate on mobile devices. According to Buffer, in some instances square video yielded 30 to 35 percent higher video views and an 80 to 100 percent increase in engagement on mobile than landscape.

Because square video formats were shown to increase engagement, Buffer and Animoto also revealed that it can be less expensive for marketers to use square video on their mobile social media platforms. Specifically, it costs 7.3 percent less to get a user to engage with a square video on Facebook and 33 percent less to get someone to engage with square video on Instagram.

Interestingly, when looking at desktop versus than mobile, landscape outperformed square video formats on desktop in terms of views and completion rate—but not engagement. Though landscape video fared better when presented on desktop, keep in mind facts like 92 percent of Facebook users now access the platform using mobile when considering where to focus your efforts.

Knowing that a square video format is your best bet in terms of social marketing, you should think about that when creating your video content. If you are shooting video or photos on your phone, your phone may have a square setting; if it does not, follow these guidelines:

  • If you are shooting in a full frame, do not fill the frame completely with your subject matter of focus. You should have room to crop the frame into a square later on without any important content being lost.
  • Center important subjects within the frame so that you do not risk cutting them out when it comes time to crop.
  • Use tape as a guideline. Place two pieces of tape on either side of your phone to outline a square frame so that you can see exactly what it is that you are capturing.

The takeaway

Due to video’s widespread popularity and consumption, you should no doubt be using it in your digital marketing strategy. You can take video’s success a step further by optimizing it in terms of format. The square video format has been proven to produce the best results for mobile social media, but landscape has its place to in terms of desktop applications.

If you need help to make video work in your favor, the McNutt & Partners team can help! Call us today at 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

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