Tips on Effective Vertical Video Content, Courtesy of Instagram

Although some purists still insist that landscape is the only acceptable format, the numbers show that vertical video is finding widespread acceptance-- and it may be worth including in your video content marketing strategy.

Thanks to the vertical formats of platforms like Snapchat, which made a big push with it’s “3V video advertising”, the style has been popularised. Younger audiences in particular are still very attuned to Snapchat as a trendsetting platform-- which is important to note, given that usage trends among younger audiences tend to flow through.

Facebook, well aware of this trend, has also made vertical video a bigger priority. Its vertical presentation tools have received recent upgrades, and YouTube has followed suit with enhancements to their own vertical presentation formats.

The clearest indication of the acceptance of vertical video, however, comes to us through Instagram. The Snap-inspired Stories function now sees more than 300 million daily users, who don’t seem to mind the portrait-style video.

In a bid to speed this growing popularity along, Instagram has published a new set of tips to help content creators make better use of vertical video, with some notes from top publishers on how to approach the format. Some of the key tips on how to make your vertical content stand out are as follows:


1. Direct The Audience’s Eyes

As illustrator Kris Merc explains, “Most people are trained to look at things horizontally, so you kind of have to lead the eye in different ways.”

Taking this advice to heart, the first key point that Instagram’s creators highlight is that the format offers opportunities to direct viewer’s vision up and down the screen in a dynamic and unusual way.

Users are accustomed to seeing things in landscape, tracking objects that move side-to-side. Vertical presentation creates a fresh perspective that can make your content stand out amongst classic horizontal videos, if you’re thinking creatively.

“A lot of stories haven’t been told in vertical space,” Merc notes.



2. Animate Your Ideas

Creating stop-motion content may seem like a big ask for anyone outside the animation field, but it is possible, and not as complicated as you might imagine.

Generating this type of content is definitely time consuming, but it’s one of the best ways to make your content stand out.

Animator Monica Kim’s creation, shown above, is a bit more advanced than what a layperson could probably produce, but it still demonstrates the potential of vertical animation and further illustrates the format’s ability to capitalize on top-to-bottom focus.

“It almost brought me back to the aesthetics of the exercise of making posters or more like traditional illustration,” Kim said.

The nostalgia element here shouldn’t be underestimated. Everyone remembers the posters hanging on their walls as kids, and that style still captures the imagination. When experimenting with your own vertical video creations, it makes sense to consider those posters and the ways in which they might inform and inspire your work.



3. Split Your Screen

Vertical video has a distinct creative advantage over traditional horizontal formats: the ability to split the screen.

While possible with landscape, the effect is not nearly as pronounced, and the results are not as eye-catching as they can be with vertical video.

As Instagram notes:

“By dividing up the space, you're able to create new perspectives for your viewers to engage with, while guiding their attention to the most important parts of your video.”

It’s another way to freshen up your video content, as this new ability is full of yet-unexplored potential.



4. Play with Type and Design

Instagram’s last tip for vertical video is to “play with type and design.”

“Whether you're stacking type in a playful, eye-catching way or using overlays to add texture and depth to your content, vertical video gives you endless possibilities when creating content.”

In vertical format, your options are wide open-- you can experiment with birds-eye views, with kinetic typography, with top-to-bottom flow. Vertical displays offer myriad ways to stand out and engage, and the more interesting your content, the more likely it is to find organic reach. The social Stories experience is here to stay, and vertical format is (if you will) changing the landscape of video marketing. 

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TrendsZoë Jenkin