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Storytelling for Horizontal Platforms

Storytelling for Horizontal Platforms

YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn all offer the opportunity to post horizontal videos. Here are the best How-Tos to create content for these platforms.
Corinne Podger

Social media platforms are an important space for newsgathering, audience interaction, and sharing multimedia content. Your story must grab the viewer’s attention within three seconds and remain interesting, to stop your audience from scrolling on to the next post in their timeline.

When creating multimedia for your social platforms, it’s useful to think and plan for two broad categories: 

  • Platforms where videos are mostly watched in a horizontal format, like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
  • Platforms where videos are displayed vertically, like Instagram Reels and TikTok


Nearly 3 billion people use Facebook at least once a month, and it’s the third most visited website in the world, behind Google and YouTube. 

The ideal duration for a Facebook video is less than a minute, unless you are making a series of videos, in which case 3+ minutes is recommended. Here’s an example from Al Jazeera: 

Watch: Plastic-eating caterpillars

Video files should always be uploaded directly to Facebook, rather than posting a link to another platform like YouTube or Vimeo. We recommend reading Facebook’s own guide to the criteria it applies to determine who will see a piece of content. 

Facebook has increasingly integrated its fellow platform Instagram, in efforts to attract younger users, and both platforms now place more emphasis on video, to compete with TikTok via Facebook Stories and Instagram Reels. 

What does this mean for video created for the platform? It means that as well as producing a horizontal video in a traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, you may need to plan a vertical version as well. 


YouTube is the second-most visited website in the world after Google, and a 2020 study in the United States found around a quarter of all American adults rely on the platform for news.

There is no ‘perfect length’ for a video on YouTube. Learning to use YouTube Analytics will help you find out what types of content your audience is most likely to watch, including preferred tone, style, and duration. 

YouTube is owned by Google, and the Google News Initiative has guidance for news outlets on using the platform, including this simple explainer about how news works on the platform. 

It’s worth mentioning that YouTube does have a vertical platform called YouTube Shorts, to compete with Instagram Reels and TikTok. Here is a guide to using it. 


A 2020 study by Business Insider found LinkedIn is the most trusted social media platform. Survey participants said they felt their data and privacy was protected on the platform, that they were less likely to see misleading information, that they felt safe, and that they were seeing relevant ads.

You can post a wide range of multimedia to LinkedIn, including website links, images, document files like PDFs, and video. The platform is not widely used for video, but given the high level of audience trust, it is worth experimenting with. 

You can upload videos of up to 10 minutes, but as most people use the platform for work, LinkedIn recommends limiting videos to 30 seconds or less, unless you are telling a complex story of strong interest to your audience.

The ability to go live is available to “approved members and Pages”, and to learn more, read this guide.


Between 2016 and 2020, there was a sharp rise in the amount of video people were watching on Twitter, so if your audience is on the platform, it’s time to consider sharing video content.

The platform has a guide for journalists, and specific tips for improving your video strategy and engagement. 

Individual accounts are limited to 140-second videos on Twitter, but videos of under a minute work best. Twitter’s advice is to focus on short snippets of your best footage, and write short text posts when uploading video. Here’s an example: 

You can also go live from your phone by selecting the camera icon when starting a new Tweet, and choosing ‘LIVE’ as an option.

About author
Corinne Podger

Corinne Podger is an Australian journalism educator, author, and training consultant who has worked in the media sector for more than 30 years. Her specialisms include mobile journalism, digital-first newsgathering, online verification, social multimedia production, podcasting and audio storytelling, and strategic audience engagement to drive brand awareness and media revenue. She has helped newsrooms, NGOs and social impact organisations in more than 60 countries to introduce digital innovations to grow audiences and support business priorities. 

Corinne is an accredited trainer with BBC Media Action, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and the Solutions Journalism Network. She also works with science and public health organisations to tackle misinformation and disinformation. Organisations she has worked with include Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, UNESCO, Google News Initiative, the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, WAN-IFRA, the World Federation of Science Journalists, Internews, Forbes, the World Health Organisation, BBC Academy, Oxfam, and the Global Forum for Media Development.

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