When it Comes to Video Length for Content Marketing, Size Matters

In a world where consumer attention span is reportedly shorter than a goldfish, content creators face a constant challenge of innovating new ways to get noticed or differentiate themselves from competitors.

What can marketers do to set themselves apart? Optimize the length of their content.

With consumers viewing more than 500 million hours of YouTube videos every day, there is no doubt that video is a key ingredient of any marketing strategy. Companies are using vlogs (video blogs), explainer videos, live videos, video testimonials or interviews, 360 videos, or virtual reality videos as a part of their strategy. According to the Aberdeen Group, adding video to the marketing mix increases qualified leads by 66% and brand awareness by 54%.

Video content is a strong marketing strategy for storytelling and connecting with consumers, but how can marketers manage their video length to get the best results?

The best advice when it comes to video marketing is simple: shorter is better. The length and engagement of the video depends on the platform.

Best Lengths for Video Content - Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter

Before mapping out the video strategy, define the target audience. Then, with every video, think about where, when, how, and what device the consumer will use to consume the content then adjust length and content accordingly.

Research from Hubspot suggests the following video times for the following social media platforms:

Adding video to your marketing mix increases qualified leads by 66% and brand awareness by 54%. With consumer attention span being shorter than that of a goldfish, marketers need to make sure and optimize the length of their content. Here are the best video length suggestions by platform:    Instagram: 30 seconds    Twitter: 45 seconds    Facebook: 1 minute    YouTube: 2 minutes    33% of viewers are lost after 30-seconds and 45% are disengaged after one-minute, so it is crucial to capture a viewer’s attention quickly. A typical drop-off after a video reaches 3- 6 minutes then again from 6-12 minutes, then another less dramatic drop from 12-20 minutes.

Best length for an Instagram video - 30-seconds

  • Instagram is a predominantly visual platform. Making videos eye-catching and interesting through timelapse and Boomerang can cause a casual “scroller” to pause and take notice.

  • Hashtags will increase visibility/discoverability... but overuse can look like spam.

Best length for a Twitter video - 45-seconds

  • Videos on Twitter can range up to 140 seconds, but because it is a platform where users are looking for quick updates, videos should be brief like a tweet.

  • Twitter can be an excellent platform to tease additional short videos or longer content found outside of Twitter.

Best length for a Facebook video - 1-minute

  • Facebook videos automatically play without sound, so they should, include visual or flashy effects that will prompt clicks (enable sound) and engage a user for more than three seconds.

  • Facebook’s algorithm rewards videos that are natively uploaded directly. Streaming events through Facebook Live allows viewers to congregate during the broadcast.

Best length for a YouTube video - 2-minutes

  • Because YouTube is a hub of all types of videos (vlogs, tutorials, product demos, frequently asked question responses, short films, Vines, comedy specials, etc.), length can vary. Multiple sources suggest that 2-minute videos seem to be the most likely to engage the viewer.

  • YouTube allows users to organize topics and videos by playlists. This can be a “digital library” for the brand’s followers to use as a resource.

  • Marketers can get creative and use this platform to tell stories about their brand for entertaining or educating the consumer on the product’s features.

AgencySparks leverages YouTube to educate and start conversations about the latest marketing trends. After experimenting with different lengths ranging from 3 to 15 minute videos, we found most viewers watch the under 5-minute clips that highlight important points.

Because AdAge states that 33% of viewers are lost after 30-seconds and 45% are disengaged after one-minute, it is crucial to capture the viewer’s attention quickly.  While short videos are the most engaging, there is room for a long video depending on the format. Wistia conducted a study with over 564,710 videos and found that there is a typical drop-off after a video reaches 3 - 6 minutes then again from 6 -12 minutes, then another less dramatic drop from 12-20 minutes. If a video’s purpose is to teach and a consumer wants in-depth knowledge, than a longer video like a TED Talk is more appropriate than a 10 second cut. If the purpose is to quickly entertain, than a 10-30 second cut is appropriate.

Simply put:

  1. Adjust content depending on the social media platform.

  2. Set the user’s expectations with the description and thumbnail.

  3. Place the call-to-action in the first 10-seconds of the video.

According UMASS researchers most people click away if a video takes longer than two seconds to load, so it is important to keep an eye on analytics to ensure that videos are not slowing down site speeds.

One way to shorten videos is to “serialize” them to pique the viewer’s interest for the next video.

Measure success with defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) - track whether or not the consumer is viewing, sharing, recalling, or promoting the video.

Let the content length reflect the business’ goals. Do not sacrifice the story or quality of an advertisement or video to match a specific time limit. While there are great guidelines for video content, every  brand and strategy is different, so sometimes the “rules” do not apply..

Ultimately, the audience will engage if the content is great.