When it comes to marketing to teens, as the old saying goes, “Don’t be a square!” Unless, that is, you’re talking about reaching Gen Z through social video.
With the popularity of Instagram and Snapchat, non-traditional aspect ratios are becoming more prevalent and even expected. This is especially true for the 27% of teens who deem Instagram the most important social network.
The different-is-cool trend hasn’t escaped other platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and once those giants of social came on board, it was clear that the days of dominance for the widescreen, 16:9 format are over.
While vertical has gained popularity, it’s hardly ideal for every situation and every screen. When it comes to being any-screen friendly, it may just be hippest to be square.
Why square videos work best on social platforms
It seems like an obvious argument: square, unlike vertical or widescreen, offers the same viewing experience on your laptop as it does on your smartphone.
In fact, no matter how your screen is oriented, the video will take up a prominent amount of on-screen real estate. This remains true even when your video is viewed in someone’s Facebook feed. And especially compared to other video, yours will stand out as a big, visual draw. This advantage isn’t restricted to Facebook, either. It’s true on Instagram and Twitter as well.
Square video’s advantages don’t stop at viewing experience across devices and platforms. Adopting the format can save you from the resource-intensive task of recreating the same piece in different formats for each and every channel; there’s still plenty of space for text-overlay, graphics and all the other fun additives of social video. Facebook now specifically recommends 1:1 aspect ratios for video ads on both Instagram and Facebook.
While still in the minority, square videos are starting to gain popularity. CBS News, a “legacy” media property whose digital innovation makes a lot of “new” media seem old fashioned, was quick to adopt the square format on Facebook. Restaurant chain Sonic used square as the foundation for a brilliant branding campaign tied to Coachella, an event with an audience dominated by Gens Y and Z, that introduced completely square shakes that were specially “designed for Instagram.”
2017 will be the year that advertisers, as well as other online publishers, realize the format’s benefits — with its create-once-post-everywhere flexibility — and we’ll start seeing square everywhere.