Recently Instagram announced that IGTV will now support horizontal video. This is fantastic news for the die-hard horizontal video creators. So let’s take a look at what this means for you to get more views and engage your audience.

Vertical vs horizontal video. What you need to know for IGTV

Vertical vs Horizontal video. What you need to know for IGTV

First things first, let’s talk about what ‘horizontal' means in terms of IGTV, because there were horizontal videos being posted on IGTV before, so what’s the difference now. If you've already figured out that part, then click here to scroll down and go straight to the section on choosing between vertical and horizontal video.


How Horizontal Videos Work on IGTV

Previously, any video that was uploaded as a horizontal video would be seen completely horizontally on the screen. Like this…

Vertical vs Horizontal video. What you need to know for IGTV

So anyone holding their phone vertically and swiping through IGTV would be forced to flip their phone to the side to watch it. Not an ideal scenario, and very likely you’d have people swiping past without stopping.

In order to counteract that, some would upload their video so they'd end up with black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. However the issue with that was, you couldn't then flip the phone to watch the video in full size. So still not the best option

Now with IGTV supporting horizontal videos, you’ll be able to upload your horizontal videos, and your audience will be able to choose how they want to watch your video – with their phone vertically or horizontally. Like this…

Vertical vs Horizontal video. What you need to know for IGTV
Vertical vs Horizontal video. What you need to know for IGTV

Yes, you’ll still have the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen if your audience don’t flip their phones. But unlike before, flipping your phone to the side will now show the full video, just like on the YouTube app.

Of course that’s just the surface stuff. So let’s look at this at a deeper level.

Now you have a choice. Do you create vertical videos for IGTV, or horizontal, or maybe both?


Should I Create Vertical or Horizontal Videos for IGTV?

There’s one thing you always want to think about before creating any content, and that is: “what’s the best way to get my message across?”. To answer that, we want to think about what’s going to suit our audience, and still align with our goals.

Of course your strategy for IGTV is going to come into play. But since everyone’s IGTV strategy is going to be different, I'll talk about this in a more broad sense.

Think about the actual content of your video and what’s going to be the best experience for your audience. For example:

  • Does your video has a group of people in it at the same time, you’ll want to consider horizontal video to get everyone in the picture. That way the person viewing your video isn’t getting seasick with the camera panning back and forth. That’s not to say it can’t be done well, but it takes strategic planning of the shots, and if that's not your thing – then horizontal is your best best.

  • Is it important that your video shows your whole body? Definitely vertical is going to be better, so your audience can see more of you.

  • Are you speaking straight into the camera and really want to connect with your audience emotionally? Vertical video is fantastic for this.

Vertical vs Horizontal Video. Choosing your aspect for IGTV

What if some of your videos suit a horizontal format and some suit vertical? Of course you can create both. But in terms of branding and creating consistency in the look of your videos, sticking to one format is going to make it easier for your videos to be instantly recognisable as your followers are swiping through IGTV.

My personal preference would be for vertical, simply because it’s easier for your audience to watch. However with the right strategy, you can capture and keep the attention of your audience, whether it’s vertical or horizontal.

So let’s take a look at a few pros and cons of vertical and horizontal video for you on IGTV.


Benefits of Vertical Video for IGTV

  • Easier for your audience to watch your video one-handed. Especially good if your audience demographic watch videos while doing something else.

  • Frictionless viewing for your audience. The fact your audience watching your video don't have to flip their phone to the side (even if they have both hands free), is a bonus. It might not seem like a big deal, but one less step in consuming your content is always a winner.

  • Vertical video is more eye-catching and less distracting when people are swiping through and browsing IGTV.

  • Vertical videos in general have a much longer retention time with more people watching the video all the way through to the end.

  • Vertical video is more intimate. I mentioned before about connecting with your audience emotionally. Think about how you hold your phone vertically while you’re on Facetime or Facebook Video Messenger chat. You’re speaking face to face with the other person and it feels like they’re right there with you. The same goes for IGTV when you’ve created a vertical video speaking directly to your audience. This helps you create a connection with the person watching your video.


Benefits of Horizontal Video for IGTV

  • Clearly the first thing is you can fit more on your screen. Less movement back and forth if you need to demonstrate something that takes up a wide area.

  • Less creative filming needed if you're filming a group of people or sports teams or anything that needs a wide screen.

  • If you want to post your YouTube videos on IGTV, there’s no messing around with converting videos to vertical. At this point I have to add that I don’t usually agree with reposting everything from YouTube to IGTV. Reason being, they are two very different platforms, and I go into that on my post YouTube vs IGTV, but of course that option is now there.

Okay, so now IGTV has kindly given us a choice as to what type of video we upload vertical or horizontal, I'd love to know which aspect you're choosing to create your IGTV videos and why.