In the words of the French novelist Saint-Exupery, “perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”. Video marketers take viewer attention span into account when determining video content length as well as the fact that users expect different video length on different platforms. According to Impact statistics, 75% percent of the videos published in the last year are less than two minutes long.
Video length is important and ignoring the optimal lengths suggested on each platform can cause your audience to loos attention. On the other hand, it’s just as important to focus on quality as well as the length and shaving minutes off the length of a weak video is not necessarily going to make it any more watchable.
The right length for your video content is the time it takes to communicate what you need to say clearly and effectively to your audience.
HubSpot research indicated that videos that received the most views on Instagram averaged less than 30 seconds. Viewers who watch the first 3 seconds of a video are most likely to finish it and so when making a 30-second video, it’s important to hook viewers with a great first frame.
Instagram has three types of video:
- Videos in in-feed posts are what users see when they open the platform and scroll down the feed. The platform shows how long the video is in the top right-hand corner. The current maximum length for these videos is 60 seconds.
- Instagram Stories have increased the amount of time spent on the platform. An Instagram Stories video can only be up to 15 seconds long. However, you can add as many video stories as you want and you can even break a story down into 15-second chunks, making subscribers click through to view from video to video to view the whole story.
- Live videos are very popular on just about every major social platform today. Instagram’s live video feature became available in July 2017 and has grown a great deal in popularity since then. The maximum length for live video is an hour. After live streaming, the video stays available to your audience.
Instagram in-feed video ads can now be up to 60 seconds long. This increase in length allows advertisers to be more creative in telling a story about their products and services. Instagram Story video ads can be up to 15 seconds long.
Twitter videos should be as short as you can make them. According to HubSpot, the optimal length for videos on Twitter is 45 seconds. Users expect short updates, including short videos. Videos and video ads must not be longer than two minutes and 20 seconds.
Twitter’s own video explaining video uploads is 29 seconds. Videos this short must resonate with an audience. A human face is often the best way to create a personal connection, instantly capture attention, evoke emotion and build trust.
One minute videos are optimal on Facebook where users want to quickly like or share, before moving on to the next piece of content. HubSpot discovered that most viewers watched their videos on mute. This means you need to add closed captions so viewers can follow and understand key points of a video with the sound off.
The maximum length for an in-feed Facebook video is 240 minutes. BuzzSumo analyzed 100 million Facebook videos and concluded that the ideal length of a Facebook video is 60 to 90 seconds.
Facebook Stories are user-generated video collections that disappear after 24 hours, and they can be 20 seconds long.
According to BuzzSumo, engagement on Facebook Live Streams increases until about 15 minutes, after which it remains quite stable. The time limit for a live stream is four hours, and there is no minimum time but, according to Facebook, the best policy is to aim for at least 10 minutes long because longer broadcasts attract more viewers.
Facebook video covers have to be 20 to 90 seconds long. They are automatically looped so they don’t appear too short. A Facebook video cover is more engaging than a still image.
Profile video is another Facebook feature to attract viewer attention, and you can upload a video of up to seven seconds.
Facebook offers a great variety of different ad types for businesses to try. Socially Sorted gives specs for video advert lengths on Facebook.
On YouTube, people not only watch long how-to videos and tutorials but may even watch whole TV shows or movies. Creating longer, more in-depth content is suitable for this platform.
YouTube does offer viewers the option to filter video search by duration. You can search short videos (less than four minutes) or long videos (more than 20 minutes).
Most people don’t set the video length filter on their searches – they click on a video because it has an interesting title or thumbnail, or because it was high in the search results. People don’t tend to think about length as a factor until they start feeling that a video is too long and click away from it.
HubSpot found that videos of about two minutes see the most engagement on YouTube. For a video of four to five minutes, fewer than 60% of viewers remain with you in comparison with 75% for a one to two-minute video.
YouTube doesn’t have any time restrictions for a live broadcast. It’s worth experimenting with different lengths to see what is most effective.
In spite of the fact that you can make longer videos for YouTube, you need to:
- Use visual storytelling and dynamic graphics so your audience can easily grasp your message.
- Don’t forget about your call-to-action, especially for longer videos, and consider one that appears in the first few seconds.
- Think about breaking video up into smaller, more digestible chunks, especially training video. You can use a playlist to link pieces of the process into a coherent whole.
- Consider how long your video takes to load. If it takes more than two seconds to load, viewers tend to abandon it. You may have to rethink your video host if your videos are taking too long to load.
Pinterest suggests that the ideal length for videos on the platform is 15 to 20 seconds. The maximum length on the platform is 30 minutes, and the ‘how-to’ content and tutorials popular on the platform will obviously last longer than 20 seconds.
LinkedIn added the ability to upload native video in August 2017. It offers some best practices on how to share videos using its upload feature. It suggests that videos should be kept between 30 seconds and five minutes long. The most successful video ads on LinkedIn are less than 15 seconds long.
Optimal video length is about knowing your audience, finding their drop-off point and conveying what you need to within that time frame. Adhering to the optimal video length for each platform is certainly not the only factor that you need to take into account. For example, you may film a video that falls right within the optimal video length for Instagram, but it doesn’t mean much for your business if the content itself is not compelling. Knowing optimal lengths can help you to tailor your video content for each platform, but ultimately, you need to develop entertaining, helpful content for your particular audience.