The optimal video length
Mark Horton avatar
Written by Mark Horton
Updated over a week ago

One of the most commonly asked questions by Shootsta client is "how long should my video be?" Here is some background on audience attention, and four key factors to consider when planning your video.

8 second attention span

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to the optimal video length. One thing is for sure though: our attention span for videos has shortened. A study revealed it fell from an average of 12 seconds in the year 2000 to just eight seconds in 2015. Humans now have less of an attention span than a goldfish (nine seconds average). The Digital Age and social media have conditioned us over the years to scan through an overload of available content quickly, and to move on if it doesn’t appeal to us in the first couple of seconds. Brutal but logical; we can’t possible consume all digital content that is being thrown at us online, so we need to choose carefully.

For that reason, short and to the point videos have a higher success rate when it comes to average view duration. So make your videos as short as possible. But how short is short? And does that mean that you can’t make long form videos anymore?

Grab and keep attention

Generally speaking, people respond best to videos that are between 1 and 1.5 minutes long. Unfortunately, that still doesn’t mean they will sit through your entire video or even begin watching for that matter. It all starts with knowing how to grab and keep attention with video in the first 30 seconds. If you can capture their attention and keep your content to the point and relevant throughout the rest of your video, people are more likely to commit to the rest of your video.

What does this mean for long form video? Long form videos can be successful if (and only if) you are able to keep adding new information that’s valuable to your audience. People tend to look at the video player timeline and give up on videos that look like they might take too long to watch.

Choosing the perfect video length is all about finding that sweet spot just before your target audience wants to leave, and adding enough value to make sure you’re “worth” sticking around for. Not sure what your sweet spot is? Learn how to read your video analytics.

4 key factors

The optimal video length is not an exact science, but here are 4 questions that can help you determine your ideal video duration:

  1. How much time does your audience have? It’s important to understand how much time your audience has and where they might be viewing your video. Are they more likely to watch this video during work hours or in their own time? Are you playing the video in a short meeting or at a conference? Are they just trying to get a quick answer rather than a long, detailed explanation? Viewers also tend to be more invested in longer videos if they contain the content they're actively searching for, in comparison to content that is being pushed out to them.

  2. How familiar is your audience with the topic? If it’s about a complex idea, a service, or a product, you might need a little more time to explain. If it’s about something they are already familiar with, get to the point quickly and don’t waste their time rehashing information they already know.

  3. How much valuable information can you share? Use the 3 - 10 - 30 rule to fill the first 30 seconds of your video with information on what your video is about, why your audience ought to care, and your key message. Elaborate from here, and stop at the point when you don’t have any new information to add.

  4. Where is this video going? Each platform has its own average optimal video length:

  • General video hosting platforms: 1 - 1.5 minutes

  • LinkedIn: 1.5 minutes

  • Facebook: 1 minute

  • YouTube: 8 minutes

  • Instagram: 30 seconds

  • Twitter: 45 seconds

Make sure to track and measure your video analytics so you can keep fine tuning your optimal video length.

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