Easily Optimize Vertical Video in 2022 with These 5 Best Practices

It’s simple: If you want to grow your social media following in 2022, creating video content is a strategy you can’t ignore.

Video is by far the most engaging type of content across all social media platforms — and it’s not even close. On Instagram, videos generate significantly more engagement than any other post type. While on Twitter, tweets with videos garner a stunning 10x more engagement. Over on Facebook, video posts yield an average engagement rate of 6.01%, compared to a mere 0.13% engagement rate for other types of content in 2021.

Finally, TikTok, based entirely around video, is the most engaging of all social media apps, again by a significant margin.  

Video is undeniably the future (or, perhaps more accurately, the present) of social media marketing. So it’s essential that you make the most of your video content to get the most distribution to your target audience as possible. 

One significant way to do this is by optimizing your creation process for vertical video. While we are all accustomed to seeing video in wider aspect ratios, as on a TV, computer, or movie screen, a vertical video is taller than it is wide — perfect for being displayed on a smartphone screen. Since this is how your followers are most likely to view your video, this is no minor consideration. 

Creating an effective and engaging vertical video is more complex than cropping the edges of a regular, wider video. But with a few simple tips, it doesn’t need to be difficult. 

Read on to discover the 5 best practices for vertical video that will help you supercharge your post engagement in 2022.

Easily Optimize Vertical Video in 2022 with These 5 Best Practices

1. Consider Resolution

Let’s start with some definitions. When discussing digital video content, there are two crucial phrases to understand: aspect ratio and resolution (or dimensions). 

We’ll get into aspect ratios and the differing requirements of social media platforms below. 

First, let’s discuss resolution. 

The resolution of a digital image or video is the number of distinct pixels that can be displayed within a given dimension (usually width by height). The more pixels, the sharper the image. 

Considering modern, high-quality smartphones, televisions, and computer screens, 1080 x 1920 should be your go-to minimum resolution for horizontal videos. For vertical videos, the dimensions are simply flipped (imagine rotating your phone between landscape and portrait mode).

To put it simply, nothing less than 1920 x 1080 will suffice when it comes to shooting vertical videos. 

It’s always good to upload your vertical videos directly to the platforms and don’t download a TikTok video and re-upload it to Instagram – it won’t get the same distribution.

2. Optimize for Viewing Without Sound

Most people don’t watch videos on social media with sound. Digiday reports that of Facebook’s 8 billion or so video views per day, 85% happen without sound. 

If you’ve thumbed through your Facebook Feed lately, this shouldn’t be a surprise. You’ve undoubtedly scrolled through an abundance of short, muted auto-playing videos. If you stopped scrolling to watch one, you most likely did so without sound, reading the captions. 

In that case, you probably already understand why it’s so important to make sure your video is just as compelling and informative without sound as with it. Design your videos to delight viewers if they decide to turn the sound on. Also on the sound front, consider using the in-app commercial audio options to tap into any trending music available. We wrote a whole blog post on trending music if you want to learn more.

It’s also really important to include captions in your video to make it more accessible and have the widest breadth of your audience be able to consume the content you’ve spent time and resources creating.

3. Grab Viewer Attention Immediately

As you are likely also aware, the average social media user continuously scrolls, only stopping when something catches their attention, or they get bored, whichever comes first. 

That means your video needs to immediately catch their attention and demonstrate its value right away. The first three to five seconds are key, so start with your most eye-catching or provocative visual. Bright colors, beautiful shots, looping animations, and cute animals are all great ways to get social media users to stop scrolling. 

Of course, following through by delivering a high-quality and engaging video that feels consistent and on-brand is just as important as a strong beginning. But if you can’t intrigue your viewer right off the bat, they are not going to watch the rest of your video, no matter how good it may be. 

It’s also important to have a strong cover image for your videos. We recommend creating custom ones instead of selecting a bad screen grab from the options the platforms provide, and make them as eye-popping as possible with the title or catchy phrase that’s relevant to your video on them.

4. Pay Attention to Framing and Composition

Framing is important for any video. We are all intuitively accustomed to the way filmmakers and video creators compose horizontal or landscape shots, but to make your vertical video look great, you may need to make some adjustments to this visual vocabulary. 

For example, simply centering your subject can leave a lot of empty space at the top of the frame — not an optimal use of the frame shape. That’s not to say you shouldn’t give your subject some headroom, but remember that the vertical format allows you to get much closer to the subject to fill in all the space, thereby creating a more immersive and intimate viewing experience. 

Since vertical video has so little space on the sides of the frame, it’s also especially important to avoid sudden, rapid pans or side-to-side movement. These can be disorienting in any aspect ratio, but can be especially distracting in vertical. Likewise, try to avoid shaking the camera. A selfie stick or gimbal can help stabilize your shots. 

Finally, when in doubt, apply the Rule of Thirds. This compositional rule of thumb posits that when dividing an image into nine equal parts with evenly spaced lines, the four intersecting points of the dividing lines represent points of particular interest, tension, and focus within the frame. Placing important elements of your composition near or on these intersections is an easy way to create a compelling and balanced image. 

5. Adjust Aspect Ratios for Different Platforms

Although most platforms include vertical video, that doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing across the board. 

Aspect ratio is the ratio of width to height of a given image expressed as two numbers representing units of measurement. For example, a common horizontal aspect ratio used frequently in television is 16:9. An image in this aspect ratio is sixteen units of measurement wide by nine units high. 

The simplest aspect ratio to use for vertical video is simply an inversion of this: 9:16, or nine units wide by sixteen units high. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just uploading your 9:16 video to every account, as different platforms use different vertical video aspect ratios. 

9:16 is perfect for TikTok as well as Instagram and Facebook Stories. However, for Instagram and Facebook Feeds, you’ll need to use 4:5 or 1:1 (a square) if you want to avoid awkward cropping or black bars in your video. You can also use 4:5 for Snapchat. 

When it comes to Instagram feeds, this may soon change. In an effort to stay competitive with TikTok, Instagram is currently testing full-screen home feed videos. Although this has yet to be rolled out across all users of the app, should Instagram choose to move forward with this new feature, it will likely change the best practices for Instagram videos that we’ve outlined here. 

As always, the Sociality Squared team is standing by to help you leverage the latest trends and best practices to build a comprehensive social strategy and achieve meaningful business growth. 

Reach out today to learn more

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Written By:

Edward Gibbons-Brown