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Facebook Goes All In On Vertical Video

As the digital landscape evolves, Facebook’s introduction of a new full-screen video player marks a significant adaptation, aligning more closely with the popular TikTok-style vertical video format.

Facebook’s shift is not just a nod to current trends but a strategic move aimed at boosting user engagement by streamlining the video viewing experience across the platform. All videos, whether short clips, longer narratives, or live broadcasts, will now be presented in a consistent, full-screen vertical orientation. Instagram worked similarly in 2022 when it streamlined its videos as Reels.

Uniformity across video formats

Facebook’s new video uniformity ensures users have a seamless viewing experience, reducing the cognitive load of adjusting to different formats and controls depending on the video type or origin. Previously, users might have encountered a mix of horizontal videos and vertically oriented clips, depending on where and how the content was viewed. With the new update, Facebook aims to eliminate this inconsistency.

The new video player incorporates several user-friendly features to enhance viewer interaction and retention. For instance, it includes a more intuitive slider that allows users to skip through videos more efficiently and simple controls to jump back or forward, enhancing the ease of navigating content. This is particularly advantageous for viewers who are looking for specific information or highlights within a video. These features not only make the viewing experience more enjoyable but also increase the likelihood of users engaging with the content, further boosting reach.

Updated video recommendations

Moreover, Facebook has revamped its video recommendation system. The updated algorithm is designed to present users with content that is more aligned with their interests and previous viewing behaviours. This could mean that a user interested in beauty might see more Reels featuring makeup tutorials, while someone who enjoys DIY projects might receive recommendations for home improvement videos. Such targeted recommendations are likely to increase the time users spend on the platform, thereby providing content creators and marketers with a more engaged audience.

For businesses and content creators, this update signifies a shift towards shorter, more engaging content formats like Reels. Facebook has indicated that high-quality, engaging videos will perform well regardless of length. However, the emphasis on Reels suggests a strategic push to compete with TikTok by favouring content that matches the quick, engaging style that has proven successful on the rival platform.

The implications for content marketing are profound. Marketers will need to adapt their strategies to create content that is not only visually appealing and engaging but also optimised for vertical viewing.

Best practices for vertical video

If you’re interested in experimenting with vertical videos as part of your content strategy on Facebook, regardless of whether or not it’s a Reel, here are Meta’s recommended key tools and best practices:

“Record in 9:16: A 9:16 aspect ratio will help ensure that your reels and videos take advantage of the updated fullscreen player.

Make use of content you already have: It’s not always necessary to reshoot the same video twice. See if you can play around with the framing of your existing content to best bring out the story you want to tell in a vertical format.

Take inspiration from Reels: Last year we started rolling out more mobile Reels editing tools to Feed video, making it easier for video creators of all types to create dynamic and engaging content. Explore incorporating audio, text, and effects to further enhance your story.”

Same, same, but different

Facebook’s update also includes a subtle yet crucial note for creators about repurposing content from other platforms. Simply transferring unedited, longer videos from platforms like YouTube may no longer yield the same level of engagement on Facebook. This encourages creators to think more creatively and tailor their content specifically for Facebook’s audience, which could lead to a higher quality and more diverse range of content being produced.

In summary, Facebook’s roll-out of its new video player in the U.S. and Canada, with plans to expand globally later in the year, is more than just a technical update—it’s a strategic move that reflects the ongoing evolution of social media consumption.

The shift towards a more TikTok-like experience underscores the growing influence of vertical video formats and the importance of adapting to user preferences in a fast-paced digital environment. This evolution presents challenges and opportunities for marketers and content creators aiming to capture the attention of a continually changing audience base.

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