Instagram Puts a Stop to the Crop

Instagram recently announced they’re doing away with the functionality that has been their calling card from day one, square-only photos. By default, your photo or video is still cropped into a square, but users now have the option of expanding the image to the way it was natively shot before posting.
Implications for Branded Content
Many brands repurpose image and video assets on multiple social channels due to time or resource limitations. Until now, it’s made sense for these brands to format all image assets into Instagram’s square format since other channels like Facebook and Twitter support any type of crop. But that’s no longer true thanks to the recent Instagram switcheroo.
PHOTOS — Consider Portrait Layouts
Check out your favorite brand on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and you’ll notice most of their photos are probably squares. While square photos are versatile and generally visual appealing, it’s time to think beyond the square. Put simply, portraits are bigger than squares, and bigger is better when you’re competing for a consumer’s attention online. Brands should highly consider using more portrait style photos in order to fill the screen on a user’s smart phone and newsfeed.
The additional space at the top and bottom of a vertically cropped photo also gives content creators more space for text overlays, logos, hashtags, URLs and other branded visual elements.

The portrait crop (right) is significantly bigger in the newsfeed compared to the square crop (left)

VIDEOS — Stick to Widescreen
Now when it comes to video — that’s a completely different story. Brands, please, please, please only shoot and upload landscape (widescreen) videos. Despite what your Facebook feed filled with hideous vertical iPhone videos surrounded by black bars might be telling you, the human eye was meant to see movement in widescreen. That’s why our eyes sit horizontally. It’s also why TVs and movie screens are wide and not tall.
Portrait style videos might be ok for moms shooting a quick video of their baby crawling around the living room, but when it comes to branded content, stick with a landscape crop. After all, traditional widescreen videos are supported on all major video platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, AND Instagram.