How long should my social media video be?

One of the questions that we frequently get asked by clients is:  ‘what length of video would you recommend for a video we’re planning to use on social media?’

It sounds like an easy question doesn’t it but despite running a video production company, the answer is a bit of a minefield and depends on which social media platform you’re planning to use so we’ve collated the recommended times from the four big ones – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & YouTube.

Research tells us that people are more likely to watch a video that’s a few minutes long on YouTube than they are on Facebook or Twitter.  There is so much distraction and competition for things to do/watch on our phones that you have to be on the ball with the content you’re posting and I was interested to learn that over half of all videos posted last year were under two minutes long.

So, let’s break it down: 

Facebook

50 seconds

An expert from Facebook who I was talking to recently actually really surprised  me by his answer – six seconds!  That is apparently the length of time we have to tell the story of a business on Facebook.  Virtually impossible BUT we can use those first six seconds to draw people in and hopefully make them stick around for 15 or 20 seconds…still not a lot of time but you can tell a great, powerful story in that time.

However, in all honesty – if people are investing their time in watching your video, they must have an interest in what you have to say so asking them to stick with you for under a minute isn’t, in our humble opinion, a big ask.

Instagram

30 – 40 seconds

Research compiled by Hubspot found that videos that are around 26 seconds long got the most comments on Instagram.  People are scrolling so quickly that if your lucky enough to capture their attention and stop them in your tracks, you’ll only hold their attention less than 30 seconds so make them count! 

YouTube

2 – 4 minutes 

WOW!!  Two to four minutes…a lifetime when it comes to video on the Internet but why are people more likely to invest their time watching videos on YouTube than most of the other social media platforms?  When people visit YouTube, it is with the express intention of watching a video.  User’s still don’t make it easy for you though…you have to capture their attention quickly and hold it.  Our advice is to use what we’ve learnt from the other top dogs…make those first few seconds count to reel your viewer in and then, if you’re lucky (and your content is awesome!), they stick around to watch the whole thing.

Twitter

No longer than 1 minute

Twitter users are used to only having 280 characters to work with so you need to keep your videos just as snappy, ideally around 15 to 30 seconds long.

Summary

Lots of people have an opinion on what is the right length for a video on social media and we’ve based our answers on many things - research from social media guru’s and what we know to work as a video production and media company but our top advice would be that while it’s vital not deviate to far from our advised times, you need to tell your story and if you tell it well and with passion, people will watch your videos but try and also remember these basics:

1.     You have under 10 seconds to engage with your viewer;

2.     After 30 seconds, you’ll lose a third of your viewers if they haven’t engaged;

3.     And by 60 seconds, you’ll lose half of your viewers if you haven’t captured their attention.

I know, I know – the general public are a tough crowd but now you’re armed with all of this, hopefully you can avoid some of the main pitfalls and remember – get your call to action in early!