The Right Video Length for Each Platform

August 23, 2017 / Danielle Dean

Breaking: With more than 8 billion videos viewed every 24 hours on Facebook alone, brands are flocking to this highly engaging format to communicate their message across multiple social media platforms.

Read time: 3 minutes, 30 seconds

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for some time now, you’re probably well aware that video is the undisputed king of online content. With billions of hours’ worth of video being watched every day (Facebook alone logs over 8 billion videos viewed every 24 hours), it’s easy to see why brands are flocking to this highly engaging format to communicate their message.

There is one small problem, however: In today’s digitally-driven society, the average consumer has a notoriously short attention span (less than that of a goldfish according to one study), a fact that has essentially forced video marketers to tailor their content to suit our distraction-prone tendencies. No doubt this is the main reason why 56% of all online videos published over the last year are less than two minutes in length.

So does this mean video marketers are home free as long as they keep their run time under 120 seconds? As you’ve probably guessed, it’s not quite that easy. In fact, it seems as though a set of unwritten rules exists regarding which video lengths are optimal for various social platforms. If video marketers are not sensitive to the watch time preferences of users based on their chosen social platform, they can easily lose their audience’s attention, which can lead to ineffective marketing outcomes.

To help you optimize your video content for your various social media audiences, below are some platform-specific suggestions regarding the right video lengths for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Facebook

  • Your videos should be no more than two minutes in length. Multiple studies (including this one from Wistia) have shown that for most videos, engagement tends to fall off sharply after the two-minute mark.
  • Short videos that are fun and/or informative and are able to be easily understood without sound tend to be the best performers on Facebook. Keep in mind that videos on Facebook will autoplay without sound first, so be sure to include appealing visuals that will make sense whether or not the audio is on.
  • It is better to upload your video directly to Facebook rather than including a YouTube link, as Facebook’s algorithm tends to prioritize native video content.

Twitter

  • Your videos should be no more than 30 seconds in length, since Twitter currently has a 30-second limit for video content.
  • Consider using video on Twitter as a way to “tease” full-length content that can be found on your website.
  • 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.

Instagram

  • Your videos should be no more than 60 seconds in length, as that is the upper limit for what the platform will support. Data compiled by HubSpot suggests 30 seconds might be an ideal time frame, as Instagram videos that received the most comments typically averaged about 26 seconds in length.
  • Perhaps more than any other platform, Instagram is all about the visuals. Make sure your videos are visually stunning so they can easily grab the attention of viewers.
  • Time-lapse and back-and-forth looping videos are perennially popular on Instagram. You can use their Hyperlapse and Boomerang apps to create these fun and engaging video formats.
  • Be sure to use plenty of relevant hashtags to facilitate easier discovery of your videos.

YouTube

  • For optimal engagement, keep your videos around the two-minute mark.
  • As the preeminent digital video platform, YouTube lends itself to more in-depth content such as product demos, how-to tutorials, FAQ sessions, video blogs (vlogs), etc.
  • Consider YouTube to be a “digital library” where you can store a repository of video content that can be organized into various playlists by topic. As you continue adding videos to your channel, you will accumulate an impressive catalog of visual assets that will be engaging and helpful to the audience you’re trying to reach.

While it’s a given that the average Internet user has a short attention span, this doesn’t have to hinder your efforts to engage their interest with online video. Just keep the above tips in mind to optimize your video marketing efforts across each social media platform, so you can make your brand stand out from the crowd.

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