-By Mike Windley – Director of Video Services, Colonial Athletic Association

I won’t lie. I hate square video. As a video purist, anything other than 16 x 9 just doesn’t look good to me. It is the sole reason for why I have been resistant to using it for social…besides the fact that it’s also a little more work. However, being in this high-speed profession means you have to keep up with the trends and changes of the increasingly important social media landscape.

According to research done by Buffer, On Facebook, “Square video outperforms landscape video (16×9) in views and engagement.” The reason for this is the fact that over time, people have started consuming media more and more on mobile devices. This is something that we all have to adapt to. By switching to square video, you are taking up 38.9% more real-estate on any given mobile device screen. This means that you are essentially “boxing out” the competition on your viewer’s timeline. Landscape-vs.-Square-Video-Comparison.png

via Buffer

Ok, so now that we know square video is going to help us in views and engagement, we still have the problem of, it looks awful (in my opinion), and it is cutting off a good chunk of each video on either side.

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 10.07.36 AM.pngOne way to fix that is just by shrinking the video in your square timeline. So now we can see the full video, and we are still taking up more space, but we have these giant black boxes of nothing on the top and bottom of the video. Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 10.12.15 AM.png

This next idea is what convinced me that square was the way to go. 

Rather than just making the video square for the sake of getting more engagement, why don’t we use it as a branding opportunity? If you have all of that space on the top and bottom of the frame, you might as well fill it with something.

At the CAA, we decided to do two simple things to get the most out of our square video strategy.

  1. Use the bottom of the frame to cross-promote your other platforms.

Not only is this an opportunity to throw in your other hashtags and handles, it’s also an opportunity to put in your own logo to promote brand recognition. In addition, I am huge fan of including social media platform logos. When you have bright, vibrant images like what you see in the Snapchat and Instagram logos, it’s going to draw more attention.

2. Use the top of the frame to promote a headline.

Today, viewers’ attention spans are only getting shorter. Don’t make your viewers wait to find out what the video is about. You need to explain what the piece is about as quickly as possible. Using this space for a headline with big text is a good way to do that.

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 10.14.07 AM.png

A couple takeaways from this article.

First, you need to keep up with social trends in this fluid environment. It’s not enough to just make good content anymore. You have to make good content, and present it in a way that gives you the upper hand on your competition, i.e., the other occupants of your timeline.

Second, if there is something you don’t like about a new social trend, find a way to tweak it and use it towards your advantage. Like I said at the beginning, I hate the look of square video, but after looking at how other accounts use it, I was able to get some ideas on how to get the most out of the technique.

Give us your opinion on square video, or show us how you have used to your advantage by tweeting @CAFEDCA!

Mike Windley

Director of Video Services Colonial Athletic Association

@mtwindley mwindley@caasports.com