The Rise of Vertical Video in Social Media Marketing

Vertical Video

The Birth of Vertical Video

It all started when smartphones entered the picture. Suddenly, people began consuming content differently, shifting from traditional horizontal formats to a more mobile-friendly vertical layout. This birthed the era of vertical video - a trend that has been skyrocketed by the advent of various social media platforms.

Social Media Platforms and Vertical Video

Platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, and even Facebook have embraced the vertical video format. It's not uncommon to find users flipping their phones sideways to watch a video anymore. Instead, the standard is holding the phone upright and enjoying the content seamlessly.

Why Vertical Video Is Dominating Social Media

The Mobile Factor

Mobile device usage has drastically increased over the past decade. As of 2023, more than half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices. This paradigm shift towards mobile-centric usage has been instrumental in the rise of vertical video.

When it comes to how users interact with their devices, the most common way is holding them vertically. It's estimated that 94% of the time, smartphone users hold their devices in this position. This natural preference for vertical handling gives vertical video an edge, offering a viewing experience that aligns with how most people use their phones.

Furthermore, vertical videos cater perfectly to the scrolling behaviour of mobile users. As users glide through their feeds, vertical videos fill the screen and auto-play, seamlessly integrating into the browsing experience. In this setting, horizontal videos often feel disruptive and incongruous. Hence, the widespread adoption of mobile devices and the corresponding behaviour patterns of users significantly contribute to the popularity of vertical video.

Enhanced Engagement

Vertical videos deliver a more engaging experience, another crucial factor in their growing prevalence. They leverage the full screen of a mobile device, leaving little room for distraction. By filling the screen, vertical videos create an immersive viewing experience that demands the user's full attention.

Studies have shown that vertical videos generate a higher engagement rate compared to their horizontal counterparts. They have a higher completion rate and share rate, proving more effective in holding the viewer's attention and compelling them to interact with the content. This enhanced engagement is particularly valuable in a marketing context, where grabbing and maintaining viewer attention is paramount.

The Role of Influencers

Influencers, with their massive following and substantial impact, have played a vital role in popularising vertical video. They've embraced this format wholeheartedly, using it extensively across various social media platforms for stories, live sessions, or short videos.

The vertical video format lends itself well to the personal, candid nature of influencer content. It feels intimate and authentic, reflecting how users would naturally capture their own experiences on their phones. This resonates with audiences, fostering a deeper connection.

Moreover, influencers’ adoption of vertical video encourages their followers to do the same, creating a ripple effect. As more and more influencers create and share vertical videos, their audiences become more accustomed to this format, further propelling its popularity.

In summary, the dominance of vertical video on social media can be attributed to the rise of mobile device usage, the increased engagement they offer, and the influence of social media influencers. As these trends continue, we can expect vertical video to maintain its stronghold in social media content and marketing strategies.

Strategies for Effective Vertical Video Marketing

Understanding the Format

Mastering vertical video marketing begins with a clear understanding of the format. Unlike traditional video, vertical video requires a different approach to framing and composition. Given its portrait orientation, the content should be centred with the primary action or subject happening within the upper middle half of the frame. Too much empty space above or below the subject can dilute the video's impact.

This format also presents a unique opportunity to capitalize on close-ups and detailed shots, emphasizing the subject's nuances that might otherwise be lost in a broader frame. Visual elements should be carefully considered to ensure that they contribute to the narrative rather than detract from it. For instance, overlays, text, and emojis should be used sparingly and strategically.

Storytelling and Vertical Video

The Power of Micro-moments

In the fast-paced world of social media, the art of storytelling needs to adapt. The concept of 'micro-moments' comes into play here. These are brief, intent-rich moments where users turn to their devices to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something.

In a vertical video, every second counts. A successful video will capture these micro-moments, delivering a compelling narrative in a concise format. This could mean capturing a quick reaction, showcasing a product feature, sharing a tip, or revealing a surprising fact. By effectively utilizing micro-moments, marketers can shape preferences and influence decisions, making their vertical videos significantly more impactful.

The Art of Subtitles

Given that a significant proportion of videos on social media are watched without sound, subtitles are crucial. They ensure that the message of your video is communicated effectively, regardless of whether the viewer has the sound on or off.

Subtitles increase the accessibility of your video, making it consumable for viewers in noisy environments, those who are hard of hearing, or even those who speak different languages. Moreover, they increase viewer retention, as viewers are more likely to stick around if they can follow along with the dialogue or narrative. The use of captions should be considered not just an add-on but a vital component of vertical video strategy.

Optimization and Algorithms

Each social media platform has its unique algorithms that determine content visibility and reach. These algorithms often favor specific types of content, engagement rates, posting times, and more. To get the most out of your vertical video marketing, it's essential to understand and align with these algorithms.

This might involve analyzing metrics to identify the best times to post when your audience is most active. It could also include understanding the optimal video length for each platform and crafting your content accordingly. For instance, while Instagram might favor 30-second videos, on TikTok, 15-second videos might perform better.

Furthermore, consider the nuances of each platform’s features. Use relevant hashtags on platforms where they matter, like Instagram or TikTok. Leverage the power of geo-tagging on platforms that support it, like Snapchat.

By implementing these strategies, marketers can significantly enhance the effectiveness of their vertical video marketing, harnessing the unique strengths of this format to engage audiences and achieve their objectives.

Case Studies of Successful Vertical Video Campaigns

IGTV and Instagram Stories

Many brands have successfully adopted vertical video in their Instagram marketing strategies, using IGTV and Instagram stories to create compelling content.

One example is fashion retailer Zara. They have effectively used IGTV for their marketing campaigns. By posting vertical videos of their latest collections, behind-the-scenes clips from photoshoots, and interviews with designers, they have been able to offer their followers an exclusive glimpse into the world of Zara. This vertical video strategy has helped them to foster a deeper connection with their audience and showcase their products in a new, engaging way.

Another noteworthy example is Gymshark, a fitness apparel and accessories brand. Gymshark uses Instagram stories to share fitness tips, highlight customer testimonials, and promote new product lines. Their vertical video content fits seamlessly into their followers' Instagram feeds, promoting engagement and maintaining a consistent brand presence.

These cases demonstrate how IGTV and Instagram stories can be used as powerful tools for vertical video marketing. By delivering visually appealing, engaging content in a format that Instagram users prefer, brands can leverage vertical video to enhance their social media marketing efforts.

TikTok Revolution

TikTok has brought about a significant change in social media marketing with its short-form, vertical video format. Brands have had to adapt to this new medium, creating fresh and engaging content to capture the platform's young, dynamic audience.

One brand that has capitalized on this trend is Chipotle. They launched the #GuacDance challenge, encouraging users to show off their dance moves in honor of National Avocado Day. This campaign became TikTok's highest-performing branded challenge in the U.S., with over 250,000 submissions and 430 million video starts in just six days.

Another example is the NBA. They use TikTok to share behind-the-scenes footage, player highlights, and funny moments. Their vertical videos are not just about basketball but also about engaging with fans and creating an online community. This approach has made them one of the most followed sports accounts on TikTok.

These case studies prove that with a bit of creativity and a good understanding of the platform's specifics, brands can effectively use vertical video on TikTok to reach a wider audience and create engaging, memorable campaigns.

The Future of Vertical Video

Vertical video has moved beyond being a passing fad and established itself as a fundamental element of social media. As we look ahead, its prevalence and impact are only expected to increase.

One of the main drivers behind the persistence of vertical video is the continual rise in mobile usage. As of 2023, over 4.3 billion people worldwide use mobile devices, and the numbers are consistently growing. These users spend significant portions of their day on their devices, consuming content primarily via social media platforms where vertical video reigns.

As mobile technology advances and social media platforms continue to evolve, vertical video will further align with these developments. Features such as Instagram's IGTV, Snapchat's Discover, and TikTok's entire platform point towards a future where vertical video continues to gain relevance and preference.

Moreover, as marketers continue to see success and engagement from vertical videos, they will continue to invest in this format. From brand storytelling to product showcases, vertical videos offer a unique medium to engage with audiences in an immersive, impactful way.


The rise of vertical video in social media marketing signifies a pivotal shift in how brands communicate with their audiences. It reflects a transition towards content that is mobile-first, user-friendly, and immersive.

As we move forward, the opportunity for innovation and experimentation within this space is immense. Marketers can explore new narratives, experiment with formats, and engage users in ways that were previously unimaginable.

This movement towards vertical video represents more than just a change in orientation; it's a rethinking of how content is presented and consumed. It’s a testament to the fluidity of digital trends and the ever-changing landscape of social media marketing.

As the digital world continues to evolve, one thing is certain - the future is vertical. Vertical video has carved out a crucial space in the digital ecosystem, and it's poised to shape the future of social media marketing. As brands, creators, and users, we're just scratching the surface of what's possible with this transformative format.