It’s a question we get all the time, and the answer depends on a bunch of factors. Video genre, goal, platform, content, audience, platform, quality, all play a part.

Let’s take a look at a few types of videos and talk about their ideal lengths.

Social Media

If your video is going to live on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, then shorter is better. Twitter maxes out at 30 seconds while Instagram recently increased their limit from 15 to 30 seconds.

When your goal is to get casual views from people scrolling through social media on their mobile device, it’s essential to grab them right away and let them move on quickly. This study looked at some of the top Facebook video creators and found that their most popular videos were usually less than 1 minute in length.

Explainer Video

When launching a new product, company, or service, having a video at the top of your website is practically a requirement. It’s a great way to explain what you do and what problems you’re solving in an engaging fashion.

For more on these, check out our blog post all about explainer videos.

In this sort of venue, the people clicking play probably have some sort of elevated interest in learning more, so you have some more room to work with. 90 seconds to 2 minutes tends to be the sweet spot. If your explainer video needs to be longer than 2 minutes, it means you either have a bad video or you need to simplify your product.

Tutorial

Something simple and purely instructional should be a minute or less. You’re just giving us the facts so don’t waste our time. Stuff like recipes and makeup tutorials shouldn’t need more than a minute.

However, if you’re adding additional details or personality, people are willing to watch something longer. This is also true if your tutorial is very technical or specific. For example, how to complete a certain task in a computer program or fix a particular washing machine. Your audience probably needs your video’s solution so they’ll actually appreciate a more thorough walkthrough.

Sizzle Reel

Whether it’s for your production company, ad agency, animation work, or some other creative portfolio, sizzle reels are the perfect way to show off your skills and accomplishments.

60-90 seconds is the goal here. Get your viewers engaged, wow them with some impressive work, but wrap it up before they get bored and leave them wanting more.

Promo/Commercial

Want to get people hyped? Do it fast. I’m sure you’re noticing the theme here: short videos are where it’s at. Shorter ads will not only get you more full views, but generally have a higher clickthrough rate.

People don’t like watching ads, especially when you’re blocking them from getting to the real content. But it seems that when you respect their time and give them a short commercial, your chances of leaving a positive mark increase.

Interview/Informational

Short interview-type or annotated news videos have become very popular in the social media genre. 1-2 minutes top is the goal for those. Again, this is when trying to reach a broad audience. But, there is also room to produce something much longer.

Yes, we’re going against the rule we just established that shorter is better, but every rule has its exception. If you’re playing to a specific interest group or community and you have enough interesting things to say, even an hour-long video wouldn’t be a bad idea. There are thousands of successful vlogs and video podcasts that put out longer material on a weekly or daily basis. Just be careful and be sure to monitor how your videos perform as you increase the length.

A study conducted by Wistia lays it out plain and simple: shorter videos results in in more views and more user engagement. That being said, when your target audience is already familiar with your content or is looking for something deeper and more specific, you can experiment with longer videos.

DreamItReel

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