Size Matters

Size matters.
Now that we have your attention. Let’s clarify. We are talking about video. More specifically, the best video shapes and sizes for different platforms.
Let’s start out with the basics. The three most common sizes are: Widescreen (16:9), Square (1:1), and Vertical (9:16). Yes. Vertical. Vertical Video is no longer the black sheep. Indeed there was a time when shooting vertical video was frowned upon. But as viewing patterns have shifted, so have the recommendations. Most people consume video on their smartphones. And how do most of us hold our phones? Yep. Vertically. So, don’t fear it!
Now, it’s important to note that most social platforms today will allow you to upload these three common video sizes, however, that does not mean that all of these work best on that specific platform. In this list, we’ll share what seems to be the standard for each platform, as well as what we recommend so that you’ll be able to get the most exposure with your video. We’ve provided examples from recent work we produced for our client Hu-manity.co. 

1. Facebook

Video Posts

  • Standard: Widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio)
  • Recommended: Square (1:1 aspect ratio)

You’re likely going to see the widescreen size the most on Facebook simply because it is the most common for shooting video. It is also going to look the best in full-screen on your desktop. But how often do we really watch a Facebook videos full-screen on desktop?

While widescreen may be the standard, it ends taking up a very small amount of real estate in the narrow Facebook Newsfeed. Similarly, if you’re browsing Facebook on your phone, it is not even going to take up half of the screen.

By contrast, the vertical format looks great on the Facebook mobile app, allowing for an almost full-screen experience when watching on your phone. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look the best on desktop. Facebook adds bars to the left and right of the vertical video and crops it down to a square when showing it on desktop.

For these reasons, we recommend meeting in the middle and going with the square size. Square videos on Facebook look great on both desktop and mobile. They take up a lot of real estate in your friends’ Newsfeed, and brings more attention to your video.

         

This is a recent Facebook video our Team produced for Hu-manity.co 

2. Twitter

  • Standard: Widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio)
  • Recommended: Square (1:1 aspect ratio)

Twitter’s video post sizes are very similar to that of Facebook. The only difference being that previews in the Twitter Feed of vertical video are cropped down to a square, even on mobile. Again, while you’ll see a lot of users uploading widescreen, the square format will get you more attention by covering more space.

3. Instagram

Instagram has slowly transitioned into being 3 content platforms in one, all of which support video. Let’s look at the recommended video size for all three.

Instagram Feed

  • Standard: Square  (1:1 aspect ratio)
  • Recommended: Square (1:1 aspect ratio)

Your normal Instagram posts, which show up on your profile grid and in your follower’s Insta-feed, have long been standardized as the square due to Instagram’s ability to edit and crop your content within the app. Video content has been no different.

Since Instagram has always been mobile-first experience, uploading widescreen videos is not going to make for the most enjoyable viewing experience. Unlike on YouTube, Facebook you can’t even rotate your phone to watch videos in fullscreen on Instagram.

Vertical videos look great in the Instagram feed, and we’d be very inclined to recommend you utilize this size on the regular… except for one thing. You have to remember your profile grid – vertical videos are always going to be cropped into a square within your grid and may not end up looking how you want.

This is why we ultimately have to recommend sticking with the classic 1:1 square video on Instagram.

Instagram Stories

  • Recommended: Vertical (9:16 aspect ratio)

In this vertical experience, you may as well use up the full screen by recording and uploading truly vertical video.

IGTV

  • Recommended: Vertical  (9:16 aspect ratio)

IGTV launched in 2018 as the vertical video platform. Though Instagram has since allowed you to upload non-vertical videos also, we still recommend the 9:16 vertical format since the platform was built with mobile users in mind.

4. YouTube

  • Standard: Widescreen  (16:9 aspect ratio)
  • Recommended: Widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio)
  • *Also Recommended: Vertical (9:16 aspect ratio)

While you can upload just about any video size on YouTube, your video will always appear in a widescreen 16:9 video player on desktop. And videos that don’t match this aspect ratio will have black bars on the top and bottom, left and right. Research shows YouTube users are much more likely to click that “expand to full-screen” button on desktop. And for that reason, we generally recommend that you keep to this standard.

With that all being said, YouTube has recently allowed for vertical videos to appear in a vertical experience on mobile. There is some cropping that goes on in the initial preview, but ultimately it looks pretty good. The reason we also recommend uploading vertical-sized videos on YouTube is because, more and more, users are watching directly on their phones. YouTube Creators who suspect that most of their content is watched on a mobile device may want to consider making this transition to provide their viewers with a more enjoyable watching experience. But otherwise, the widescreen video size does just fine for the time being.

We hope this has been helpful. We know it’s a lot to digest. Reach out to us if you have any questions about your size… errr… you know what we mean.

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About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.