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Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to Video Length. The blog you’ve been searching for! Here we address a topic of hot debate - how long should your video be? The answer, however, requires a dedicated blog post. Scroll on as we answer the aforementioned burning question, covering a variety of video sharing platforms and video ad formats.
First up, let’s get schooled on ...
Video length best practices
Grabbing and keeping your viewer’s attention isn’t easy, and as a video creator you want to be sure you aren’t making content that’s too long (or too short).
Technically, there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ video length, but there are several important factors to consider when it comes to timing.
Start by answering these questions:
Who is your target audience?
What’s the message?
Where are you posting it?
What’s the goal?
As a general rule of thumb, the internet consensus has long been “keep videos under 2 minutes”, especially for marketing videos. However, in 2020, optimal video length depends on the content and where you’re sharing it.
For example, if you’re watching another cat video on Instagram - 6 seconds is the sweet spot. Whereas an acclaimed TEDTalk or a cooking or instructional video might be as long as 20 minutes. While research suggests 52% of viewers tend to prefer the 3-6 minute range for most informative videos, an engaged audience is prepared to tune in for a longer video.
It comes down to value proposition - what makes a video worth the view time?
Let’s scrub ahead for the best length for different social media platforms.
Video length Instagram
Depending on the video post type, Instagram videos can be between 3 seconds and 60 minutes in length.
Video Post to Your Instagram Profile (to appear in feed): Up to 60 seconds, or you can upload multiple 60 second video clips into a carousel post.
For IGTV (short for Instagram TV): 15 seconds to 10 minutes for regular accounts. Though ‘larger’ or verified accounts can upload videos up to 60 minutes long. In the future, Instagram has said that eventually there will be no time limits.
Livestream Video: Up to 60 minutes
Video Post to your Instagram Story: Up to 15 seconds (with an easy work-around) - videos longer than 15 seconds will automatically be split up into separate segments, and can be uploaded at once.
Want to know more about Instagram Stories?
Video length Instagram Story
Because Instagram Stories and ads are divided into 15 second windows - aim to cover your key message in the first 15 seconds. How many different scenes should you use in a single story? It’s up to you! A story with 3 parts (beginning-middle-end) is always engaging. It’s smart to have multiple scenes, just avoid going on too long! No one wants to see the story with ALL THE DASHES.
Video length on Facebook
Have the popcorn handy, Facebook videos can be up to 240 minutes long (yes, that’s 4 hours!) long. But how long should they be? You guessed it - it depends! But, just because you can upload a Lord of the Rings length video doesn’t mean you should!
Facebook says, “It's a myth that only short videos work well on Facebook. In fact, both short and longer videos can resonate, as long as the length makes sense for your content and keeps fans coming back for more.”
In-Feed Video Length
Longer videos are ideal for episodic shows, developing storylines and live streaming.
1-3 minutes (good)
3+ minutes (best)
Shorter videos are ideal for sharing fun facts, teasers, announcements, polls and ads.
Under 1 minute for short video in the feed
Maximum 20 seconds for stories
Best length for Facebook ads
Just like in-feed videos, Facebook video ads can be up to 240 minutes. But if you’re not an award-winning film director - keep it short and sweet. Facebook in-stream video ads:
5 seconds to 2 minutes (so cue up the CTA or the juicy info in the first 5 to 10 seconds).
Need more Facebook video info? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Videos.
Video length on YouTube
YouTube audiences are a unique breed with a totally different attention span compared to other social platforms - because they’re there specifically wanting to watch videos. Ergo, they are prepared to watch longer videos!
Though YouTube videos can run for up to a marathon 12 hours, the most engaging videos on YouTube run around the 2 minute mark. If your video is instructional or has really gripping content 6-8 minutes makes an ideal length. YouTube ‘rewards’ videos with more watch time by showcasing them more prominently in search results - this doesn’t mean you should stretch your video out - just that if viewers are watching your content it will get a leg up!
Tip: if you can’t fit your story into 8 minutes, Think Media says your best bet is to split the video up into 2 parts.
For YouTube video ads: Stick to 15 to 20 seconds for pre-roll ads, or 6 seconds bumper ads (which are more about quick brand awareness).
TikTok video length
Do you even TikTok? Well, as of early 2019, TikTok was the 3rd most downloaded app globally, hitting 500 million users in its first year. It’s no surprise that the platform is quickly becoming a great place for businesses to be seen.
At first, TikTok videos could only be up to 15 seconds long, but the app has extended the limit to 60 seconds when you piece 4 x 15-second segments together. Note: this applied only when you’re recording in the app - if you create a video elsewhere, and upload it, it can be longer than 60 seconds.
Tip: While there’s technically no time limit to how long an uploaded video can be, it just needs to be within the file size (287 MB for iOS devices and 72 MB for Android. Ads can be up to 500 MB).
WhatsApp video length
If you choose to send an existing video, it is limited to 16MB. On most phones, this will equal about 90 seconds to 3 minutes of video. If you choose an existing video that is larger than 16 MB, then you will have the option to trim the length of the video before sending it.
You're ready to make videos!
So, you’ve got a MBs on MBs of video footage you need to whip into shape and you’re looking for a video length editor online?
We got you! Trim, edit and create your video content to suit all platforms with Clipchamp - check out our free and easy video maker!
And remember - when it comes to length, follow the golden rule: make your video as long as it needs to be—and not a second longer.