There’s so much conflicting advice out there when it comes to the best length for social media videos.
In this blog I’ll be advising you how long they should be together with some top tips on how to create engaging videos to keep people watching them for longer.
At the end of this blog I’ll be revealing the optimum length for social media videos according to the professionals!
Why do videos as part of your social media strategy?
We just need to look at the recent research and the latest statistics to see how important videos are for promoting your business on social media .
- 2020 has seen a 63% increase in businesses using video for marketing in just one year.
- 81% of business users are now using videos, this is a 63% increase since 2019.
- 97% of marketers agree that video really does help businesses to sell their products or services.
- It is predicted that in 2022 (just 2 years away) 82% of internet traffic will be video based.
- 78% of people watch videos online every week, with 55% viewing videos daily.
Things to think about when doing a social media videos
If you’re shy about putting yourself in front of a camera, don’t worry, there are other creative ways you can use video to promote your product or service. Find something else to focus on relevant to you and your business.
The length of your video will depend on a couple of factors: the chosen social media platform and the intended purpose of the video. Although, there is a preference for shorter videos, longer videos are necessary if the content is to provide detailed information about a subject.
When I am promoting a future livestream on social media, I create short videos with clear, simple messages telling the viewer when to tune in and what the subject matter will be. The actual livestreams are approximately 20 minutes long as I need this time to provide real value, and to answer any questions that my audience want to ask.
It is important to note that the average attention span of a ‘video viewer’ is around 8 seconds – this means that you have to grab their attention in the first 8 seconds of your video. If you don’t, they’ll just scroll on by.
In this first 8 seconds you must tell the viewer what the video is about and what value you are going to add. This hook will keep them watching – hopefully until the end.
How long should a Facebook video be?
Facebook allows videos of up to 240 mins long. Now, that’s a lot of talking! I wouldn’t recommend that you try to fill 4 hours.
The best length for a Facebook video is under 2 minutes.
I follow Social Media Examiner on social media (they are a US advice company – experts in their field). And they openly admitted that they removed all of their ‘longer’ videos from Facebook and placed them on YouTube instead. The longer videos were just not getting watched on this platform – but performed better on YouTube.
Why do shorter videos on Facebook perform better and why does video length affect reach on social media?
It’s all to do with the algorithms (the robots that tirelessly work behind the scenes showing you content that they think you’ll like).
Facebook monitors how well your videos are doing; if they are performing well, they will be rewarded with a greater reach. It does this by measuring how long your customers stay tuned. If your video is around one minute long and you’ve captured the attention of the viewer in the first 8 seconds, they are likely to keep watching until the end. Facebook will recognise that your viewers are watching 100% of your video. Yay, that means people are enjoying it and the Facebook robots will share it to others that they think might like it, increasing your reach.
On the flipside, you’ve created a 60-minute video and still engaged your viewer in the first few seconds, but you’ll need to keep their interest for the whole hour. If the majority of viewers only stay tuned for 20 minutes before switching off, Facebook will see that only one third of your video is getting watched – people aren’t interested enough to watch to the end, therefore Facebook does not share it as widely as there’s not quite enough interest for it to be rewarded with a greater reach.
So you see, short videos are more likely to get watched until the end, and you’ll be able to get your message out to a wider audience.
How long should a Twitter video be?
Until recently, Twitter only allowed videos up to 30 seconds long. This has now been extended to allow videos up to 2 mins 20 seconds. But, to be honest, I think the best length for a Twitter video is still around 30 seconds; this limit is easier to keep your viewers’ attention for the duration of a social media video. However, the length will depend on the subject matter.
How long should an Instagram video be?
The platform allows videos up to 60 seconds in length, although Instagram TV allows up to 10 minutes. The best length for Instagram video is actually very precise; evidence shows that videos with the length of 26 seconds get the most engagement on this platform.
How long should a YouTube video be?
YouTube is all about videos – people go on this platform with the intention to watch a video. You’re allowed to upload a video up to 12 hours long – blimey, that’s unbelievable, but to be honest, I could easily chat about social media for hours on end! Thank goodness the average social media video length is a lot shorter though.
Research has proven that videos on YouTube which last around 6 to 8 minutes perform better than others.
How long should a Pinterest video be?
Pinterest is wonderful if you have a product to sell – it’s the best platform for driving traffic to your website and to get customers to fill up their shopping cart. You can upload a video up to 30 minutes long if you wish, but again the length depends on what the content is.
If you need a bit more convincing about Pinterest and what it can do for your business, have a look at my blog, ‘Why Pinterest is Great for Business’.
How long should a LinkedIn video be?
LinkedIn allow videos up to 10 minutes in length, but the shorter ones tend to perform better and gain a higher reach. The best length for a LinkedIn video is around 2 minutes.
Test. Test. Test.
As with everything to do with social media, testing content out on your audience is an absolute must. You should test a few videos to find the right video length for social media for your customers. Never be put off if a post or a video doesn’t work, this is useful learning so you can work out the winning formula for your customers and your potential customers.
You know your audience better than anyone else and know what it is they want from you. When creating videos think about the needs of your customers first.
And once your videos are out there and being watched, keep an eye on the statistics and work out the optimum length for your business.
Top Tips to keep people watching your videos for longer
We all want our videos to be watched, after all, we’ve put a lot of effort into creating them.
Here’s what you need to do to keep your audience entertained and engaged:
- Plan ahead. It’s good practice to do what I do and make notes for every video and livestream. Before pressing that red button, really understand the reason why you are doing the video and what value you want to add. Think about your audience above all else.
- Make the first 8 seconds count. Get straight to the point telling your viewers what you are about to reveal! When you grab their attention, they’ll want to hear more from you.
- Keep eye contact. If you are appearing in the video, make sure that you look into the camera and not at yourself on the screen. If you are not looking into the camera, your video won’t be as engaging, and this could turn people away.
- Show your hands. If you’re anything like me, you do a lot of ‘talking’ with your hands too. It’s a great thing to do, especially in the first few seconds as it instils trust.
- Check your background. If there is something behind you in the video that is distracting, your viewers’ attention may be diverted to that and they may not be concentrating on your message. Have a look behind you, is there anything there that really stands out?
- Smile and be energetic. Don’t turn into a newsreader and simply broadcast your message. Be a little theatrical in your videos, be entertaining.
- Be personable. Creating a video, especially one in your home, can be a great way to inject a little bit about who you are, the person behind the brand. Showcasing your personality and telling your story creates a strong connection between you and your customers.
- Pick or create an engaging thumbnail. We’ve all seen them – videos which have been uploaded onto social media with a frozen still. A lot of the time these frozen stills are extremely unflattering and quite often a little boring – they’re hardly going to compel someone to click the play button. Create your own thumbnail, I do mine in Canva (see here for a video tutorial), or take another picture to use. Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to create and select a thumbnail for the video before it goes live. I suggest you do as they can make all the difference to whether your video gets watched or not.
- Give a teaser in the first few seconds. For example, when I did the livestream about “how long should a social media video be? I said right at the beginning that I would be disclosing the optimum length of a social media video according to the professionals right at the end. This teaser keeps viewers watching until the end to hear a very important piece of information – information that really adds value.
- Use clear and simple language. Now is not the time to try and sound clever using industry acronyms and jargon. This is a huge turn off. Always talk in the language of your customer.
- Keep it simple and real! If you are an informal type, keep your videos informal. If you are in corporate, then your audience will expect a more formal approach.
So, according to the professionals how long should a social media video be?
The answer … less than one minute.
Or, the ideal social media video length for when you are giving information and adding value is between 2 and 4 minutes.
But, for ease I would go with under a minute as you can use this on all social media platforms.
Before I sign off, remember the Golden Rules: test the length on your audience and give your audience the content that they want from you.
Bye for now,
PS If you’re following all this advice and still not getting many views, then get in touch as there are many other things that impact the reach of your videos that I can help you with.
 Source: Single Grain
Social Media Consultant, Social Media Executive