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SocialGov guide: Short-form video

Dec 20, 2022

Contributed blog by Ariana Donley, Social Media Manager at Government Social Media

Short-form video is all the rage on social media these days. It allows people to consume a lot of diverse content quickly and learn something new or just pass the time. 

As a former multimedia journalist, I used to cringe at the idea of filming on a smartphone instead of using a professional camera. Nowadays, many smartphones have exceptional quality and being able to film on-the-go can help increase the amount of content at your fingertips. Also, it can help bring more authenticity to your content! 

Many social media platforms that facilitate short-form video include convenient in-app tools that help you film and edit directly from a smartphone. No matter how you choose to film, here are some tips for your government agency accounts before you tap “post.”


During the 2022 Government Social Media Conference, TikTok representatives encouraged the use of vertical video. If you’re creating content specifically for TikTok, keep this in mind as you film. 

If you used a traditional camera to record, you can use a variety of video editing applications to resize horizontal video and convert it to vertical; however, you will likely be forced to crop out portions of the video and, depending on how it was filmed, the end result may be too blurry or pixelated to use. 

  • Dimensions: 1080 x 1920 
  • Aspect ratio: 9:16
  • File formats: MP4, MOV (AVI and GIF for ads) 
  • Video length: Up to 3 minutes (for most users)
    • Stories length: Up to 15 seconds (videos disappear after 24 hours) 

Earlier this year, TikTok announced plans to allow 10 minute videos on the platform; however, not all users have seen that feature open up for them yet. 

Keep text and other important information out of areas where the caption, username and engagement icon overlays will appear for mobile users. Having captions clearly displayed will not only help your account be accessible to people with disabilities, but it will also help people who are in an area where they cannot play the sound on your video. 

Instagram Reels

If you also have an agency Facebook Page, crossposting your Instagram Reels to Facebook will help you get more mileage out of your content! In your settings, you can allow Instagram to automatically share your Reels to Facebook each time you post a new one. 

Vertical video is also the recommended format for Reels. Sensing a theme here, huh? You’re absolutely right! 

  • Dimensions: 540 x 960 to 1080 x 1920 (recommended)
  • Aspect ratio: 9:16
  • File formats: MP4, MOV 
  • Video length: Up to 90 seconds 

During a breakout session at GSMCON2022, a representative from Meta (the company that owns both Facebook and Instagram) said that approximately 40 percent of Reels users utilize captions when watching the videos. 

Reels gives you the option to add eye-catching captions as a “sticker.” The app has guidelines that show you the boundaries for stickers and text, so just make sure your sticker captions don’t cover up any important visuals in your video. You can “pinch” the captions to make them smaller, if needed.

YouTube Shorts

These videos can be either vertical or square. 

  • Vertical video
    • Aspect ratio: 9:16 
    • Dimensions: 1080 x 1920 
  • Square video
    • Aspect ratio: 1:1
    • Dimensions: 1080 x 1080 
  • Video length: Up to 60 seconds
    • Stories length: Up to 15 seconds (expire after 7 days)

YouTube supports a wide range of file formats; however, according to the platform, playback support may no longer be available for resolutions from 4K - 8K. 


Also, keep in mind, computer users will view content in a 16:9 aspect ratio. Here’s what YouTube says about addressing the difference To address the 9:16 aspect ratio on vertical video: 

For some video and device aspects ratios like 9:16 vertical videos on computer browsers, YouTube may add more padding for optimal viewing. The padding is white by default, and dark gray when Dark theme is turned on. For best results, avoid adding padding or black bars directly to your video. Padding interferes with YouTube’s ability to change the player dynamically to your video size and the viewer’s device.”

Android & iPhone 

According to the platform, the Android mobile app will adapt to the video size automatically (vertical, square or horizontal) by matching “the aspect ratio of the video - getting taller for square and vertical videos, and shorter for widescreen videos.”

Vertical videos will not have black bars on the sides and users can tap the [ ] icon to view full screen. 

Meet the author

Ariana Donley

Social Media Manager–Government Social Media LLC

Ariana graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Human Rights. She spent several years in the TV news industry and also served the Birmingham Police Department initially as a Crime Prevention Officer and later as the first Public Relations Manager. She is passionate about GSM's mission and and enjoys the positive and supportive team work environment.

Best communicate with the public you serve and get connected with fellow socialgovs by registering for the 2023 Government Social Media Conference happening in Reno-Tahoe, Nevada! Join our free network for bi-weekly Government Social Media Chats or professional association for member-only webinars. Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates on training, events and more.

We support the largest network of government social media professionals in the U.S. by guiding government agencies through complex social media issues. Government Social Media helps you successfully communicate with the public you serve, protect your agency and keep public trust while finding your support community. 


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