When you’re creating video content for social media, there are a ton of decisions to make. Which platform (or platforms) do you want to create the video for, and what audience are you targeting, and are you going to optimize it for search and accessibility? What style do you want to go for, and what goal is it accomplishing?
One of the decisions that is often last until the last minute may seem like a small detail, but it actually matters quite a bit: How long should my social media videos be?
We all know the importance of video on social media, so this isn’t something that I have to preach here. What many video creators don’t realize, however, is that getting the length right matters a ton; it’s not just about creating the right content, it’s about delivering the right amounts of it, too, and exactly how much that it varies by platform.
In this post, we’re going to look at the ideal social video length for each individual platform so that you can set your campaigns up for success from the beginning.
Why Social Media Video Length Matters So Much
The content is, of course, hands down the most important part of a video. It’s what’s going to share your message with viewers and hopefully drive whatever action or goal you’re hoping for, but the length matters, too: if your video goes on than viewers are willing to watch, even if it’s great, they’ll likely leave before they can finish it.
Finding the right final timestamp for each video will maximize viewer retention rates, letting you maximize every second you can hold their attention. This allows you to get your message across fully, show them the end screen and a CTA, and increase the likelihood that they’ll take action.
The tricky part, of course, is that each platform has different video requirements, guidelines, and user behaviors. It’s not uncommon to see hour-long YouTube videos, for example, but you can’t even post video content longer than two minutes and twenty seconds on Twitter.
Knowing the best practices for each platform, therefore, is key, especially when you can use tools like Shakr to quickly create perfectly-optimized (and well-timed) video content for each individual platform without having to start from scratch. You can learn more about this here.
Facebook is one of the first platforms that social media marketers and businesses are focused on, and video is exceedingly popular here for both organic and ad campaigns.
While long-form video on Facebook is gaining some traction, shorter is still dominating here for both organic and PPC video. This makes sense, because people are browsing when they see most videos, and they’re willing to stop and hang out for a minute but not necessarily watch a 45-minute video. We’re scrolling idly now, looking for something to entertain us fast, but signing up for a long commitment with low battery life may not fly.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that multiple studies have shown that 2 minutes tops is the longest your video should go. One particularly strong study from Hubspot found that user engagement was strongest on videos of about 1 minute long, maximizing user interest without losing them before the video was complete.
This is a good mark to stand by– try to shoot for one minute long, which gives you enough space to tell a great story and get your point across, but short enough that everyone is actually making it through to hear the whole story (or get the whole sales pitch, whichever is more applicable here).
Instagram has always had shorter constraints than Facebook, even though IGTV was rolled out as a sister-app to open up the opportunity for long-term content.
Partially because Instagram skews even more mobile in usage than Facebook, Instagram has a shorter ideal video length, clocking in at just 30 seconds. You can go up to a minute and still see a decent performance, but here 30 seconds was the sweet spot. Specifically, 26 second-long videos were the ones that seemed to have the highest engagement rates.
With Stories, go ahead and use those full 15 seconds that you’ve got. This is a short period of time, but many users are watching Stories all the way through. Just make them great, use the full-screen vertical format to its full capacity, and add in music or other effects to keep viewers interested (we can help with that here!).
As for IGTV, while the platform is designed to accommodate long-form content, you won’t want to use the full hour-long capacity for most content. Keep in mind that this is still a mobile app, and most people may not want to watch 45 minutes of content holding their phone up. Ten minutes or less is a good call, and don’t be afraid to keep it short here; get your point across as succinctly as possible, and leave it at that.
Pinterest has always been the odd man out for social media because the platform operates so different than other conventional social sites, so it’s no surprise that the ideal social video length best practices are a teensy bit skewed, too.
Here’s what we mean by this: A study conducted by Pinterest themselves found that video length on their platform had no correlation with viewer completion rates and that it all came down to quality. The key here was to encourage users to take some sort of action, which seemed to resonate best with their audience and aligned with the basic intent to research, discover, and eventually purchase something they’ve found here.
That being said, should you use Pinterest’s full 30-minute video allowance? No, not normally. Like most other platforms, your best bet here will be content that’s between one and three minutes long. Super short product features can be thirty seconds or less, and you can have tutorials go to the longer end of the three minutes.
Twitter’s got tight video length requirements, not allowing you to upload content more than two minutes and twenty seconds long. And according to our research, you won’t even need half of that to do the job well.
Videos clocking in between 43-45 seconds long were most likely to be featured in Twitter’s video of the day and had the highest engagement rates. It’s important to remember that Twitter has always been built on the premise of brevity– short, to the point, and easy to digest. Your videos here should adhere to that standard.
YouTube is a hard one to put a number on because there’s some content that should definitely be capped at two minutes (which is the official length, once again, for maximum engagement), but others that can easily venture into five, ten, or even fifteen minutes.
The important thing to factor in here is user search intent. Someone who is searching for “best laundry baskets” isn’t going to want an hour-long breakdown of fifty baskets; they want a two-minute-or-less analysis of ten of the best laundry baskets with basic, differentiating information that would influence their purchasing decision. Someone who is looking for “how to change a tire,” on the other hand, would likely be willing to sit through a fifteen-minute video taking them step-by-step through the process.
Really think about search intent here, because that will be key, and remember that if there’s so much information you want to cover, you can always create a small mini-series. Ten minute-long videos will typically do better in many cases than one ten-minute long video.
If you aren’t sure what’s appropriate for the keyword you’re targeting, you can do a quick search and see what’s standard.
The ideal social video length will have some variation depending on the platform, as you can see, but the variation isn’t significant. You could easily shorten a minute-long video into a 45-second long video and a 30-second video, optimizing it for both Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Just use a tool like Shakr to find templates for each desired length, and apply the same images and video clips to get the desired results.
Remember, too, that these are general best practices. If you have a minute-and-fifteen-second video you believe would kill on Twitter, that’s ok. It’s good to know where the benchmarks are so you can use them as base points and test your content accordingly.