Jul 25, 2016

It’s all about length, video length

written by Richard Lindsay

How long should your videos be on each platform?

One second, six seconds, 30 minutes. Who knows what the optimum length is for videos on each platform? Some platforms (Vine and Instagram) will enforce their own duration limitations (6 and 30 seconds respectively), but what about the other major video platforms? Here we analyse some stats to back up opinions about how video length can make a big difference in engagements and conversions. There are of course many variables in terms of absolute optimal length of video and much depends on who your target viewer is, but here’s our advice…


First, having a varied mix of content styles and lengths in your video library will ensure you reach the full gamut of people looking to be entertained, educated, inspired or informed. Consider the difference between a 1-minute 360 degree film of a surfer riding a huge wave, versus a 30-minute TED Talk on the possibilities of 360 technology for various industries. There is a time and a place and an audience for both films. So thinking about what will appeal most to all of your target audience is key.


However, formats such as TED are well established and adhere generally to a level of quality that viewers recognise. It is still imperative, as a rule, to grab viewers’ attention within the first 10 seconds of video on any platform. Visible Measures, provider of independent measurement solutions for Internet video publishers, published engagement research in 2015 showing that 33% of video viewers are lost by the 30 second mark, 45% by 1 minute and 60% by two minutes across all platforms.


Further research also shows that YouTube videos are, on average, a whopping ten times longer than Facebook videos. Generally, shorter videos of 30-45 seconds will do better on Facebook than YouTube, thanks to the social network’s autoplay feature and the nature of scrolling through a newsfeed and where users will be doing this. The sheer volume of views makes Facebook an important medium. Comparing Facebook and YouTube directly, one recent study pitched the new Game of Thrones season trailer against each other when published on both platforms. Within 14 hours, the trailer had notched up 19 million Facebook views, against just 6 million on YouTube. But importantly, this figure doesn’t factor in Facebook engagements, meaning any activity related to the video (think likes, comments, shares) hasn’t been counted here.

Yet longer videos are more likely to perform better on YouTube and Vimeo as audiences expect content to be more in-depth here. YouTube engagement appears to increase the more the video progresses, as opposed to on Facebook where user engagement drops rapidly.


YouTube videos appear in Google search results, they can be annotated and accompanied by long descriptions, making the platform more useful in targeting niche audiences searching for specific terms. Facebook video has however gained huge traction recently and will appear multiple times when engaged with on timelines.
So, both Facebook and YouTube have merits for both short and longer videos. Shorter videos will perform better on Facebook in terms of engagement, whereas videos up to ten times longer are the most engaged YouTube videos. Yet, as ever, the content of your videos and who you are targeting is far superior to being preoccupied with length.