Why square is the best format for selfie videos

by | Jun 12, 2020 | Resources

Lots of people ask why we chose a square video format for StoryTagger. Selecting the video format was a big deal for us, and lots of factors influenced our decision. Here’s the backstory on why we decided it was cool to be square. 




How did square video get so popular?


Back in 2013 Instagram required all image and video content to be square. Square style content (especially video) is perfect for small screens and with over 90% of Facebook’s 1.74 billion monthly users on mobile this format made clear sense.


When it comes to standing out on busy feeds, size really does matter. Research shows that square video takes up to 78% more space on a mobile newsfeed than landscape. Visually, being square certainly punches above this shape’s weight! So, it wasn’t a surprise that the format quickly spread to other platforms. 


Buffer recently reported that 1:1 video now outperforms landscape video on mobile. So much so, that most platforms including YouTube now support square, landscape, and vertical uploads dynamically presenting the best format for each channel. 


StoryTagger looking great on popular platforms


Social and mobile platforms favour the square, but what else does it have going for it? 

Square video and ergonomics

Modern phones are big and often heavy, so holding them steady in a landscape position can be tricky. The extra weight puts pressure on our wrists. And, to get a well-framed selfie headshot often means holding your phone at full reach. 

We quickly spotted that an outstretched arm makes it hard to read on-screen notes while recording. Also, our arms at full extension are less stable leading to inevitable extra shake which makes videos harder to watch. 


Better aesthetics

Square video avoids the complexity of framing a landscape or portrait video. In enterprise scenarios seeing superfluous background also risks accidentally showing unauthorised workplace environments or people who have not agreed to be in the video. More recently, the popularity of TikTok has made ‘portrait’ popular, but it’s a tricky format to get looking great on a traditional widescreen format, so it lacks flexibility.


Better at capturing the emotion

Rigorous user testing and research proved that square video was the best option for StoryTagger creators. It’s the most flexible format and even more importantly the 1:1 ratio makes it easier to frame the individual capturing the rich emotion and meaning shown on our faces. After all, this is what StoryTagger is all about. 


Challenges facing landscape and portrait selfie video formats 


  • Too much background
  • Doesn’t catch the face well
  • Risks showing unauthorised environments or people in shot
  • Uncomfortable holding your phone in landscape position
  • Increased risk of camera shake


  • Uses too much screen space
  • Harder to focus on the face
  • Shows too much of the body
  • Doesn’t translate well to widescreen format


New call-to-action
New call-to-action

Download resources

New call-to-action
New call-to-action

Try StoryTagger

New call-to-action

Get resources by email

Get our latest guides, good practice examples and product updates by email

Template to capture subject matter expertise

Capture subject matter expertise with video interviews How can you get knowledge to the people that need it most, quickly? Use the template below to help subject matter experts share concise, helpful videos from their phones.With home-working, travel restrictions and...

Stories We Can All Learn From

Kudos to the learning community who turned up and opened up for Stories We Can All Learn From. The brilliant panel included Gayle Tong, Ger Driesen and Myles Runham with Stella Collins as Chair, fifteen brave learning professionals who contributed via StoryTagger and...

How can we support student experiences with video in higher education?

Higher education has never been more competitive so many universities are looking for innovative ways to create more contemporary, exciting and effective student experiences. Here at StoryTagger, we believe learning is key to growth and success, so we love a chance to...

Crowdsource knowledge and experiences easily with our video learning platform

As our working lives change and turn towards accessible online resources, the demand for video learning platforms has increased. Video learning as a concept is becoming increasingly popular, with studies claiming that it improves people’s ability to remember concepts...

Is your current video strategy delivering business impact?

Like many teams you may be relying on professional production companies to capture your colleague or customer stories and aid your video strategy. We have identified five reasons why it’s time to consider new, innovative ways of filming authentic, value-led content...

Crisis communication template

How do you communicate in a crisis? Use the template below for sharing regular, authentic and supportive video updates with your people from your phone. Should I go into work? How do I maintain social distancing rules with customers? How can I find out more...

Case Study – The Student Room

Helping students navigate university life through authentic video stories  The Student Room (TSR) is the UK's largest online student community. Its popular education website is used by more than 70% of all students every day. TSR supports students from GCSEs and...

Kickstart user-generated video as part of your 2020 learning strategy

Not everyone relishes the prospect, but filming ourselves is becoming an essential 21st century skill. This article, written by our CEO Cheryl Clemons and originally published in Learning Technologies magazine, shares why user-generated video is essential for learning...

Building trust in teams with authentic video content

In this article Cheryl Clemons highlights three business areas that benefit from the real, human and inspiring qualities of user-generated video which can help with building trust in teams. Originally published on the Saba Lumesse guest blog in December 2018. What do...

EDF Energy and Verizon share pioneering user-generated video case studies at Learning Technologies 2019

StoryTagger, the video storytelling partner of Learning Technologies 2019, has announced its programme of free seminars at the show. Innovative marketing and learning leaders from EDF Energy and Verizon, who are among the earliest adopters of StoryTagger, are sharing...


Get started with enterprise
user-generated video

This guide helps you introduce user-generated video into your organisation with tips on how to run a quick experiment to generate buy-in from your stakeholders.