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Trends – Vertical Video

The evolution of vertical video in social media marketing

I’m all for change. Like when my parents decided to turn my room into a part-time guest bedroom while I still lived there. Or when I wanted honey coloured highlights and walked out of the salon with bright yellow blonde all over highlights instead. I’m adaptable.

But adapting to social media trends that were once looked upon with ridicule from video and social media experts can be tricky. Especially when you have worked so hard and adapted to one particular way of working and then, just like that, it changes. But that’s the thing with technological evolution... It’s fast, unexpected (most of the time), and requires specific due diligence to be utilised in the correct way in your business.

The trend that stood out to me the most this year in social media has most definitely been vertical video. I can hear videographers cringe at the sound of this. Vertical video has taken over social media and quite frankly, if you aren’t producing vertical video for your business, you are certainly missing a trick.

But why should you use vertical video, and can/does it actually work? 

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85% of businesses see videos as an important part of their marketing strategy and, in 2018, 94% of smartphone users use their phones vertically to watch videos. Put two and two together and… voila!

What we mustn’t forget is that the world has gone mobile. When you are at home, commuting to and from work, travelling somewhere, on your lunch break, you are more likely to use your phone for pretty much everything. Research shows people access social media through their mobiles the most and it is only natural to hold/use your phone vertically.

When vertical video first came out, it was most definitely frowned upon. But Facebook and Snapchat were one of the first major adopters of vertical video by producing and excessively sharing “thumb-stopping” content where a user didn’t have to go through the effort of turning their phone around. They could simply scroll, watch, stop, scroll, watch… and so on. The results on Facebook showed 4% better engagement and higher number of video views which resulted in advertisers showcasing their products through the “vertical video revolution”. Over the years, social media has adopted the “minimal effort” mindset meaning users are less likely to watch even the greatest of content if it requires hard work or a lot of outbound clicks to watch a video. 

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Another adopter of the trend is YouTube who have inundated influencers following the trend in order to showcase their content. It’s not enough for us, as a business or social media managers, to think of vertical video as the go-to for all that we do. If you think you can simply transfer the type of content you are creating horizontally (longform & narrative), to vertical, you are going to fail. You must think about the type of content that suits being flipped to the vertical. Stories, live-blogs, reviews, unboxings etc. It’s not just the orientation of the video that is changing but rather the content, the look, the density and duration that are also components to consider.

As a personal believer in the extraordinary power of storytelling, vertical video does present the harder task of captivating an audience and not only grabbing the attention of the user but also mastering the ability to keep their attention. Whether you are looking at an Instagram story, Facebook post, Snapchat video, each post – for however long – needs to be able to tell your story with authenticity, passion and allow the user to feel just as much part of the story as whomever is telling it. The most successful vertical video stories I have seen from brands take you behind the scenes and paves a way for you to feel a part of whatever they are sharing. By following general best practices for social media and spending time on each platform curating content with specific requirements, reaching out to a particular demographic, you can master vertical video. 

"The most successful vertical video stories I have seen from brands take you behind the scenes and paves a way for you to feel a part of whatever they are sharing. "

Vertical video in social media marketing should be part of your strategy for all types of social media postings from recruitment to campaign launches. By focusing on your audience and their expectations you can deliver vertical video at its finest. The trend doesn’t take away from longform or other types of media as horizontal video will continue as a format with movies, TV streams etc in widescreen but we will continue to see increased investment in vertical video simply because of how we all hold our smartphones and how users now consume fast delivered information.

I’m personally excited to see how vertical video expands – especially in advertising – and how brands utilise the trend in order to keep their audiences’ attention.

By Hannah Dinesh - PR & Social Media Executive