Video Length Best Practices

Figuring out how long your video should be is always the first question you should ask yourself.

If it's too short, you won't have all of the information you want in it.

If it's too long, you'll lose many viewers before you get to the call to action.

So finding that balance between video length, and the information in the video is a crucial decision affecting whether your video will be successful

When we first see a video pop up on any platform, the headline catches our attention, we might glance at the image, but the next thing we consider is how long the video is.

If the length of the video doesn't match our level of interest and free time, then we are unlikely to watch.

Meaning that the length of your video needs to match your audience's interest in you and your topic as well as how much time they have available right now:
Ideal Video Length = Audience Interest (You + Video Topic) + Free Time

Why Audience Matters For Determining Video Length

Why Audience Matters For Determining Video Length

This formula is pretty cool looking but how do we implement that?

Well, luckily there is a wealth of data out there helping us to determine what length is ideal for each stage in the customer life cycle.

If the persons never heard of you or the video's topic, and has no interest in it, they are unlikely to watch at all, so we don't worry about these people.

When the person has some interest in the topic but no idea who you or your company is, we classify them as ‘cold traffic.'

With cold traffic, the ideal video length is 30 seconds maximum.

We only say 30 seconds because it gives us enough time to fit in the information we want.

However, it would be shorter ideally, so we can make the message even more concise: "Buy My Stuff" with a picture of a toaster would be a 1-second video but it wouldn't be saying much… I'll have to test that one.

When the traffic is warmer, they've heard of you or your product, and then you have more leeway in regards to length.

So for example, if they are in the market for the topic but haven't heard of you or have been to your website and know you but not so much the subject, they will give it longer on average, between 60 and 90 seconds.

Then finally for the hot traffic, those long term clients or regular commenters who consume all of your stuff, you can probably make the video as long as you like and they'll watch through to the end.

These three examples illustrate why whom your audience is matters a lot in determining video length.

However, this is all theory: what matters is the numbers...

What The Research Says About Ideal Video Length

Luckily for our purposes, there is a wealth of data out there on ideal video length.

For example, 56% of all videos published last year were under 2 minutes long.

However the message, media, and market all need to be taken into account when determining a video's length if you care about optimizing performance.

A Ted talk is going to be a lot longer than an elevator pitch.

Speakers on a stage communicating with an audience that has paid thousands of dollars to attend will command a lot more attention from the get-go that a would-be entrepreneur pitching a venture capitalist his new idea for soap.

Let's use the media as an example.

Our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than text so we typically scroll faster when the platform is more image-based, like Instagram, which means the video should be shorter.

Twitter is for 140 character tweets, so we are expecting every piece of content on the platform to be short if something breaks this pattern; we keep scrolling.

Youtube, on the other hand, is entirely different, we go to youtube to consumer information and entertainment in an extended form from our favorite channels or when we are looking for a specific topic.

Because of this, your Youtube ads can also be a little longer.

So let's first discuss the best length for different types of media

Best Video Length For Facebook

Luckily for us, Facebook gives us a pretty good idea of the range to stay in with their video guide as well as a best practice for video ad specifications.

Based on the research and our experience it’s best not to exceed two minutes when targeting cold traffic.

Multiple studies across industries and audiences (including this one by Wistia) have found that for most videos, engagement typically drops off sharply after the two-minute mark.

Brief videos that entertain or inform and are simple enough to be easily understood without sound tend to perform best on Facebook.

Also remember that videos on Facebook will include autoplay without sound first, so it's essential to include engaging visuals that will intrigue whether or not the audio is on.

As a final note on Facebook, It is always better to upload your video directly to Facebook versus a Vimeo or YouTube link, as naturally Facebook's algorithm prioritizes native video content.

Best Video Length For Instagram

For some reason, Instagram is always changing the length limits of their videos the instagram feed video guide specifies 15 seconds to 60 seconds with research like this recommending a much shorter length..

If you’re creating a video for instagram it’s pretty essential to ensure that it’s no more than 60 seconds in length, as that’s the upper limit the platform gives us.

Hubspot put together a tonne of data suggesting 30 seconds is the perfect time frame; this data also reveals that videos receiving the most comments average 26 seconds in length.

Instagram was initially created for photographers, and your results on the platform will still rely heavily on this fact, the visuals must be engaging, if they're lame you're not going to float in the sea of visually stunning content.

Boomerangs and time lapses are very popular on Instagram right now. It would be best if you experimented, or have your social media person experiment, with these effects.

Moreover, if you're really out of the loop when it comes to Instagram, make sure you do your research when it comes to the proper use of hashtags which can make or break your growth strategy on the platform.

Best Video Length For Linkedin

If you are in B2B, then you need to be implementing a solid Linkedin strategy.

When it comes to native video content, Linkedin is undoubtedly the king right now when it comes to the reach you can achieve.

For now 5 minutes is the limit for upload length, and there is no clear research on what is optimal at this point.

It's pretty hard to know right now what the ideal video length is so all you can do is test things out an experiment with it a lot.

Best Video Length For Youtube

Based on my experience and the current research out there I'd recommend keeping your Youtube videos to around 2 minutes of content.

As the king of video content online, YouTube is perfect for in-depth content:

  • Product Demo Videos
  • ‘How To’ Tutorials,
  • Q&A sessions,
  • Vlogs,
  • Rants,
  • etc.

It would be best if you thought of youtube as your businesses Digital library.

Create a content calendar that organizes your topics within the pillar categories you want to focus on.

You can organize these videos into playlists based on topic or as different series.

Every video you create and upload becomes a long term asset to your business allowing you to build a solid foundation enabling success over the long term.

Youtube is perfect for becoming the go-to business in your niche because when you create content on everything you know, it can seem as if you know everything.

Best Video Length For Twitter

The current maximum length on twitter is 240 seconds with Hubspot's previously mentioned research recommending 45 seconds.

Twitter is for quick consuming content, so you don't want to be long-winded.

Think of Twitter as a place to test content and place promos for your long-form content on other platforms like youtube.

A great way to test your content on Twitter is to interact with fans and followers via replies and reactions to comments and questions. This allows you to ask them questions and use Twitter as almost a bouncing board of ideas to build up your content ideas for future posts.

One of the most effective uses for Twitter video is to post short comments, replies or reactions to questions or messages from fans and followers.

Best Video Length For Snapchat

Snapchat is like the video version of twitter.

Users go there for quick form content, although the disappearing feature of it’s content isn’t exactly like twitter.

The Maximum length is just 10 seconds but according to Hootsuite 5 seconds is the ideal.

Best Video Length For Periscope

Long form live casting is the name of the game here so you could really go as long as you like right now as far as I could tell there is no research on the ideal length for a Periscope.

Best Video Length For Facebook Live

You can go as long as 240 minutes but according to Buzzsumo 19 minutes is the ideal length.

In this article we have hit the majority of best video lengths for the most popular platforms.

However, of course, there are still a lot of other ways you can implement video content online.

Vimeo is no longer what it once was in terms of size but still has a pretty large audience and may have some features you prefer to Youtube so could be a good option to try out Vimeo Live with a premium account. 

Youtube also has a live feature, but it is a little more challenging to learn as an amateur, I've found Facebook live to be a bit easier.

360 & VR are the future with Facebook and Youtube building this route, but there is little out there on maximum and optimum upload limits.

Videos are the undisputed king of online content.

Every day billions of hours of video are being watched across the platforms.

So it's pretty apparent why businesses from big brands to small stores are all pressing forward with video marketing strategies.

If you're after some video marketing strategy and are ready to move forward contact us now.

If you're interested in learning more about how a video marketing production strategy can impact your bottom line without spending exorbitant amounts of time and money check this out.

Related Posts:

The Ultimate Video Marketing Length Guide 2019 by Dylan Sigley
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