Have you noticed anything about the videos on your Facebook or Instagram feed lately?

Movie trailers, sports highlights, promo videos, animated graphics… More and more of them are showing up “phone-shaped.” While most of our video-producing friends cringe at the thought of non-landscape, 16:9 video; major news outlets and leading content producers across the social web are moving rapidly toward the non-traditional video format.

Mobile users continue to grow

With more than 1 billion mobile-only monthly users on Facebook (as of Nov. 2016) and statistics showing that between 65 and 80 percent of Facebook impressions happen on a mobile device, it only makes sense that users would engage more with content designed to fit the screen of their phone—content that owns more real estate in the natural scroll of the Facebook News Feed.

A recent article from DigiDay (https://digiday.com/media/vertical-video-driving-bbcs-mobile-traffic/) shows a powerful case study from the BBC, showing a 30 percent increase in visitors to their app since they’ve implemented vertical video and a spike of 20 percent more videos viewed per user since the change.

We’ve seen the effect of vertical video at LifeWay recently as well. When we converted a traditional 16:9 video to vertical on a set of Facebook ads in December, engagement jumped through the roof, and our cost-per-click and cost-per-impression dropped like a rock.

Putting it into practice

If you want to test vertical video for yourself, it’s easy to get started. Obviously, if you’re shooting video on your phone, the switch is easy. Just keep your phone upright instead of yielding to the temptation to turn it sideways.

If you’re working with previously shot 16:9 video, most of the time you’ll find it can be cropped to work in a square or 4:5 (Facebook’s recommendation) format. Basically, just make sure there isn’t significant video or text that will be cut off by cropping the video to a square or slightly vertical shape.

On a Mac, I’ve found the easiest (and cheapest) way to do this is through using Keynote. Simply open Keynote, create a 4:5 ratio presentation, (1200×1500 works nicely) and then drag and drop your existing video file into the Keynote document.

From there, use the corner handles of the video content to resize the video into the vertical video document window. You can play the video while in Keynote to make sure nothing important will be cropped out of the scene. When you’re satisfied with your crop, go to File, export, and choose to export as a QuickTime file.

Testing and reporting

Now you can use your vertical video on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. A great idea to check the effectiveness of your Page and your audience is to test your newly formatted video against the traditional 16:9 format.

Build an ad campaign, choose one audience, but create two different ads, identical except for the video format shape. Run these ads for a week and watch to see which version generates the best results for you.

We’d love to hear your results! Share any tips you discover along the way as we all work to make our content the best possible for our users.

Kyle Brogdon

Kyle is an experienced marketing and communications strategist; having developed and managed social strategy at an Atlanta-area hospital, a state university, and several churches and ministry organizations. He is the senior integrated digital marketing strategist at LifeWay.