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Not sure how long your video should be? Have you had conflicting advice depending on the channel? Let’s simplify it all here.

Why does the length of a video matter?

Over my entire career one question I have been asked time and time again is “How long should my video be?” 

I have found that focussing on this question can be a problem.

  1. It creates a time constraint for video that is not necessary. I have had clients ask if we can shave off 2 seconds to the content into a time limit based on advice they have given. I have had worse requests about time… but more about that later.
  2. It can impact budget and quality. I have had clients say “Common opinion is that video shouldn’t be more than 30 seconds. I am not paying for anything longer than that – you don’t need a full day or two days to put 30 seconds together.” This makes the whole video production process difficult for the producer and unsatisfactory for the client – as a similar amount of preparation usually needs to go in to creating a 30 second video as a 90 second video. It is about the concept not the length.

Finally the biggest mistake that a focus on this question makes is it assumes that the length of a video is going to have a dramatic impact on a video’s success online.

It doesn’t.

The length of a video has some impact on how much people watch, what platforms it will be successful on and more but there is something else that is much more important.

Quality over quantity

There are 6 second videos online that a great job of telling a story or making a point in their short time span. This piece from Google powerfully shows the affect of global warming.

Equally there is long form content that is even more successful. This video at 2 minutes from Ikea spoofs Apple’s marketing to promote their new catalogue shows the engagement potential of average length videos with over 18 million views.

This video about the making of the Squatty Potty video I posted in the blog about emotional content is nearly 10 minutes long but has nearly 1 million views.

Hopefully you can see that the length of a video is not the deciding factor in its success.

Focus on the quality of your content. Work out what is essential to be in the video and identify the style that will convey the message and help your audience connect with it.

Once you have worked that out the length will almost take care of itself.

But what about the engagement debate?

Video length vs engagement chartOne of the arguments that is often brought up is how engagement is effected by length. Wistia did a study that unsurprisingly showed that engagement dropped as a video progressed.

For me this is not a huge issue. The longer a video is the fewer viewers will make it all the way to the end. Engagement is an important analytic but, like all analytics doesn’t tell the whole story.

The people that are interested enough to watch all the way to the end are more likely to be potential customers. By watching the whole video they have already shown great interest in your product. Target these people, if you can, with adverts. Track whether they share content or click on a link/follow your call to action.

Essentially use your videos length to weed out the bad prospects.

Yeah, yeah yeah! but how long should it be?

There are countless theories over video length and there is no question that different lengths can have an effect depending on the channel you are using.

Here are the two golden rules for video length:

  1. Your video should be as short as possible without compromising on the necessary content or style.
  2. Attention spans are short so put something in the first 6 – 10 seconds that either makes viewers want to watch more or includes your key takeaway message.

Follow these and you can’t go wrong but…. I know you came here looking for specific answers and I will let you have them.

Smarter Video Think:

Follow the golden rules but you can use the timings below as a guideline.

  • Facebook: 60 – 90seconds
  • YouTube: 2 – 10 minutes
  • Twitter: 45 – 60 seconds
  • Instagram: 30 seconds
  • Website: 2 – 3 minutes

For more information about Smarter Video take a look here.

Please get in touch and let me know what you would like to learn or read about.

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