Once upon a time, you had to create your visual assets in various dimensions for different platforms. To differentiate itself from Instagram’s iconic square, Twitter chose a rectangle crop for its inline image. In 2015 they bowed to popular opinion and started displaying un-cropped square photos.
The square crop has now reached iconic status, it’s simple shape is synonymous with memes thanks to internet jokes circulating on Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook, otherwise known as the shitpic as documented by the Awl.
Beyond it’s popularity for framing memes, the square has extra benefits for video posts, a new tiny trend we’re seeing on Twitter. We know that as much as 85% percent of video views on Facebook happen with the sound off so it’s good social practice to subtitle all your video assets. Subtitles can be a contentious subject in some households– people don’t want to read while they’re watching something, it’s distracting from the action, etc. When using a square format for a video post (recommended 1080 x 1080) you have the added benefit of being able to place the subtitles in bars across the top or bottom of your video. This means you can provide context without having to interrupt your visual content!
Here’s Channel 4 providing context for their video in a bar at the top of the video and a subtitles bar in the bottom:
Jacamo are also using this tiny trend to provide context for their video posts:
This clever use of space means that the viewer doesn’t have to read the tweet to understand what is happening. They can focus their attention purely on the video. When you pair this with Twitter’s autoplay feature, which aims to catch viewers attention as they scroll through the feed, providing context within the video is a very neat solution to diverting focus.
Even when not using subtitles, using a square crop provides another advantage over the traditional widescreen crop. When shared on Twitter it fills up more of the screen than a rectangular crop would. Similar to the tiny trend of portrait crops on Instagram, the square crop on Twitter is about making your content more immersive in the feed.
Using a square crop allows the focus of the action to remain firmly in the centre of the frame, so your eyes never stray too far from the action.
Here’s an example from Fox UK:
Look how it compares to a standard widescreen video post:
A square crop video is more immersive, provides more room for context and focuses attention right in the centre of the screen. It’s time to banish the widescreen format and embrace the square.
Try using a square crop for your next video post on Twitter to test out this tiny trend. We predict your followers will like it!