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The beginner’s guide to short-form vertical video content for nonprofits

Video has taken the social media world by storm.

Thanks to the rise in popularity of platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, we’re seeing more and more short-form vertical videos in our feeds. And other platforms, like Instagram and YouTube, have followed suit, adding features like Reels and Shorts, respectively.

In fact, many of these platforms are changing their algorithms to prioritize short-form vertical video over images.

So, if you haven’t already begun adding vertical video into your organic social strategy, what better time to start than now?

In this blog post, I’ll share some common questions I’ve received from our nonprofit clients as well as a few examples to get you started.

Does video orientation really matter on social media?

While it might seem like there’s no big difference between horizontal and vertical, studies show vertical video formats are better for boosting views, engagements and interactions:

In short, yes—the difference between vertical and horizontal is huge!

Tip for success: When creating vertical videos, we recommend taking advantage of screen space. The optimal resolution is 1080 x 1920 (or 9:16) to fill a standard mobile screen.

How long should my videos be?

When it comes to video, short and sweet is best. Your followers don’t want to watch a 45-minute IGTV in their spare time. In fact, the average attention span of a user is just eight seconds!

Keep video content to less than three minutes when possible, and grab their attention quickly. This will help encourage users to press play and watch all the way through.

Tip for success: For even better engagement, cut your video length down to a minute.

Do all videos need captions?

85% of Facebook videos are viewed without the sound on. In fact, most social networks auto-play videos on mute by default.

Captions help improve accessibility for those with hearing loss, and they allow all users who watch videos without sound to still fully enjoy your content.

Tip for success: For more video accessibility tips, check out this resource from

What if I don’t have time to produce extra video content?

Repurposing and recycling content is always OK! If you have a longer YouTube video or a video from your website, try sharing a shorter, vertical teaser clip on social that links to the full version elsewhere.

I always recommend sharing multiple teaser clips from longer videos if you can. Utilize the content you have available to sprinkle bits and pieces across social channels to stretch the work you’ve already done.

Check out how Children International is using vertical video on their Instagram and Facebook channels to engage with donors:


Tip for success: Start shooting your videos vertically if you haven’t already. Videos that are shot vertically will look a lot better in a user's native feed than those that were taken horizontally and adjusted later.

Does my nonprofit need to be on TikTok?

TikTok is huge—but don’t feel pressured to join the platform if it isn’t right for your organization. Your decision should hinge on where your supporter base lies and the platforms they frequent more often. If your donors skew older and are largely on Instagram and Facebook, focus your efforts there first.

Tip for success: If you’re looking to dip your toes into the platform, check out this blog for some fun TikTok examples to get you started.

At the end of the day, you need to provide relevant content that adds value. Your video orientation or length won’t matter if consumers think watching your content is a waste of their time.

Focus on creating high-quality content that you have seen perform well historically and that will capture your audience’s interest, attention and loyalty.


Julia Patterson

Julia Patterson is an expert in organic social media marketing. As RKD’s Digital Media Senior Manager, Organic Social, Julia helps build organic strategies for our nonprofit clients that align with their fundraising messages, engage their followers and drive channel growth.

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