Originally published on April 17, 2017. Updated on April 2, 2018.
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.
Stories are thought of as a dynamic and ephemeral type of video content. Therefore, Instagram Video Stories should not be longer than 15 seconds. However, if your video length is more than that, but you still want to post it in full, you can use a tool like Storeo or CutStory to split it into shorter video clips and post them one by one.
Another option provided by Instagram Stories is broadcasting live. The maximum duration of a live video is 60 minutes, and the recording can be available for up to 24 hours afterward.
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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 is roughly 120 minutes.
However, this once again does not mean that a 120-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.
Similar to Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories are meant to be short and snappy. You can upload or film a Facebook Story for up to 20 seconds, which is 5 seconds longer than what Instagram allows. That means 5 extra seconds for you to spark the interest of your audience - don't miss this chance!
Facebook Live Streams
The time limit for a Facebook live video session is 4 hours. 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.
Facebook Video Covers
Video covers are great for freshening up your Facebook page as they can be way more engaging and informative than still images.
A cover video has to be 20 to 90 seconds long, but the good news is that it's automatically looped, so it's not going to seem too short.
Facebook Profile Videos
Profile video is another brilliant Facebook feature that should definitely be considered as a way to attract users' attention to your page. You can record or upload a video of up to 7 seconds, or use an animated GIF.
4 Ways To Optimize Your Facebook Page With Video
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. Moreover, there are no time restrictions for a live broadcast. 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.
START CREATING ENGAGING VIDEOS WITH WAVE
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 fall 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.