These days, it's hard to find a form of marketing that is more captivating, more impressive and more powerful than video. According to a study conducted by Hubspot, 92% of people who see a video that they like on their mobile device are likely to share it with others. Video can increase email click-through rates, landing page conversion rates, overall engagement and absolutely everything in between in a very dramatic way when executed properly.
The most important thing to keep in mind in terms of your next video, however, is length. Just because you CAN upload a 20 minute video to YouTube doesn't mean you should. Not only do you have to take into account factors like the human attention span, but also the channel you're using in the first place. A video that performs great on Facebook might not do so well on Twitter, with length being a major contributor to that fact.
As of 2016, Instagram has increased the maximum length of videos that people can upload to the platform to 60 seconds. This is up from the previous cap of 15 seconds. This is actually a fairly solid recommendation - while shorter is always better, this is one case where hitting the "maximum length" cap isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Most viewers on Instagram taper off after a minute anyway, so making the cap one minute makes perfect sense. As you can see from the example videos posted to the official Michael Kors Instagram page, most popular Instagram videos do very well within these restrictions.
Facebook users are accustomed to longer pieces of information, so it's understandable that videos here can be a bit longer as well. The maximum Facebook video length for a 1080P HD file is roughly 45 minutes.
However, this once again does not mean that a 45 minute video is a good idea. Studies have shown that the average length of all top YouTube videos tends to be about 1.5 minutes, so if you CAN keep your content to about that length you definitely should.
The only exception to this would be live video, which can go on for as long as you want. Indeed, live video streaming on Facebook is a great way to increase engagement and raise awareness, as seen by the links at the bottom of this page. However, that really only extends for the duration of time that you're broadcasting live. Though a full recording of the session will be available for people to watch on an ongoing basis, you should edit the highlights into a much shorter format for consumption moving forward.
Twitter video length is very reflective of the site's users themselves, who by now have grown accustomed to short bursts of necessary information. Because of this, your videos should be as short as you can get them as well. Twitter will even automatically recommend that you edit a video to no longer than 2 minutes and 20 seconds when you upload it.
However - that doesn't mean you SHOULD use every second of that time, just that you CAN. Video examples like Twitter's own video explaining video uploads on the platform is only 29 seconds. This shows that shorter - meaning under a minute - is always better.
Now, everyone can post videos up to 140 seconds long! We can’t wait to see the amazing videos you create and share.https://t.co/DFsuvnXkuL
— Twitter Video (@TwitterVideo)
YouTube is a bit different in terms of all other platforms because its users are accustomed to longer content. Not only does YouTube have its own original programming, but people often watch TV shows and even entire movies via the site. Because of this, YouTube can be a great outlet for many different types of content - all of which have their own unique YouTube video length recommendations.
Generally speaking, if you're uploading some type of tutorial video to YouTube, try to keep things to between 45 and 90 seconds. It's enough time to go into detail about your topic, but you don't want to overstay your welcome. If you're uploading a commercial, try to stick between 15 seconds and one minute - or roughly the same time as a spot would take if it were airing on TV. Crowdfunding videos on YouTube (like this example) tend to be around 2.5 minutes in length. Obviously, there are exceptions that prove the rule, but you should start to look for cuts as your video approaches five minutes.
Other Considerations About Video Length
The most important thing to understand about all of this is that despite the listed video lengths for each platform, there is truly no "one size fits all" approach to the format. You could have filmed a video filled with animation and other effects that falls right within the video length Instagram suggestions and it won't mean a thing if the content itself is not compelling. Advertising Age estimates that if your video isn't engaging to begin with, you lose 33% of your viewers after the first 30 seconds. After one minute, you lose 45% of the people who were left.
At the end of the day, focus on creating compelling, captivating content FIRST. Worry about issues like length once you're sure you've reached that point.