Square video is the new standard for social video

The old saying goes, “Don’t be a square!” That may still be true…unless you’re talking about social video. As video has become the foremost element of social media, we’ve seen a variety of trends that shift online video away from traditional presentations of video. Among these are the growing popularity of non-traditional aspect ratios. Social video is no longer constrained to the widescreen, 16:9 format. Nor do viewers want it to be!

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Publishers discovered square videos

We’ve seen vertical videos grow in popularity throughout 2016, thanks in large part to Snapchat popularizing the format. But now we’re witnessing the beginning of a square revolution. Have a look at this exceptional square video from New Scientist:

Why square videos work best on social platforms

Did you watch the video on a horizontal display (like a desktop or laptop), or did you view it on a vertical screen (like a smartphone)? However, you viewed it, take a moment and check out how the video displays on a device with a different orientation.

The first thing you might notice is that, regardless of how your viewing screen is oriented, a square video takes up a prominent amount of on-screen real estate. This not just true when viewing, but also when a square video appears in a user’s feed. It stands out as a big, visual draw.

This is true not just on Facebook, but on Instagram and Twitter as well. Even while fully supporting vertical and horizontal aspect ratios, square videos simply fill the screen more. This is part of the reason Facebook specifically recommends 1:1 aspect ratios for video ads on both Instagram and Facebook. If the practice is best for drawing attention to ads, publishers can be sure it will also draw attention to their social video content.

The effectiveness of square regardless of the viewing scenario means that videos with 1:1 aspect ratios can work well across platforms. There’s no need to recreate the same piece for every channel when you can simply hone in on a square format (though that’s not to say there aren’t other things you might consider when crafting for specific networks and audiences).

While square videos are starting to gain popularity, they are still in the minority. But we feel confident you’ll continue to see more and more as publishers and their video teams come around to the benefits. In fact, our recent research shows that square videos account for 53% of viral videos! Industry leader CBS News is increasingly utilizing square video in their Facebook content, like this darling piece about a service dog:

How to start creating square videos?

Remember, there’s nothing to be lost in going square! Your best assets can be tailored to the aspect ratio, even if they were shot horizontally or vertically. And there’s plenty of space for text-overlay, graphics, and all the other fun additives of social video. Shifting your strategy to be more square-focused also doesn’t have to mean extra work. The tools Wochit provides allow for assets of any kind to be easily shifted into a square format.

As we look ahead, it sure feels like the future might be square!

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