When it comes to video marketing, one of the most common questions we hear is, “How long should my video be?”
Over the years, you’ve likely heard all sorts of stats and formulas when it comes to how long your Facebook videos should be. Many sources say keep it short—30 seconds is ideal. Others say go long to maximize watch time. You may have heard that video length doesn’t matter and it’s all about creating content that sparks conversation. So what’s a video creator to do?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the optimal length for videos on a variety of platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Before we dive into the individual platforms, here’s our general rule of thumb for video length:
Your video should be just as long as it needs to be in order to get your information across—and not a second longer.
Attention spans are short. So it follows that videos should be designed to be engaging all the way through. Your video should provide information that is valuable or tell a story that is compelling, without any extraneous details. For an ad, just a few seconds may be enough to reveal a special promo. For a how-to video, it could take much longer to give people all the information they need to do the thing you’re teaching them to do.
But don’t take our word for it. In an Animoto survey of consumers, 59.9% indicated that a video being too long would strongly deter them from watching.
Now that we’ve answered the question of video length more generally, let’s dive into video length by platform. We’ll start with Facebook.
How long can Facebook videos be? Facebook videos can be up to 240 minutes long. But how long should they be? It depends on a few factors. We’ll break it down for organic Facebook videos and Facebook video ads.
Organic videos are videos posted to your Facebook page without any advertising spend. As you may have heard, or seen in your own Facebook Insights, Facebook has shared that "videos get shown organically to more people when they’re at least 3 minutes long."
But should all your organic videos be 3 minutes long? In some cases, a longer video may be the right route for you to take. Three or more minutes may be ideal if you’re a publisher looking to tell longer stories in video form, or to break down complicated concepts.
If you’re in the business of creating binge-worthy video content, it makes sense to shoot for the 3-minute or longer mark. However, for non-publishers, we still recommend approaching each new video you create with your message in mind, rather than duration. And Facebook recommends this too.
Facebook recommends that small businesses try keeping videos to around 15 seconds as much as possible. At a Boost with Facebook event in Brooklyn, they shared that 47% of value in a video is delivered in the first 3 seconds. As a small business owner, cut to the chase and get your main point across as early as possible. Your video should be just as long as it needs to be to convey your message.
Not seeing the reach you’d like? Tacking on extra time to hit that 3-minute mark won’t necessarily help. Remember that the length of your video isn’t the only thing that Facebook’s algorithm is taking into account. They won’t show a video to more people just because it’s 3 minutes. The video also has to hold viewers’ interest and spark engagement and conversations.
To help keep viewers engaged and sticking around, regardless of the length of your video, here are a few tips:
If you’d like to get your videos in front of a larger audience, you can pay to boost it or run it as a video ad. Which brings us to this next section!
Similar to organic videos, Facebook video ads can be up to 240 minutes. But you really should keep them as short as possible. Remember, when you pay to promote a video as an ad, you’re showing up in the feeds of viewers that aren’t necessarily looking for your content (and they may not even know who you are!). So you want to keep things as short and to the point as possible.
What is the value you are offering? Get to the value as quickly as possible. To learn more, check out our guide to running targeted ads on Facebook.
Videos in the Instagram feed can be up to 1 minute, or you can upload multiple 1-minute video clips into a carousel post. But we suggest keeping videos shorter than a minute. According to Hubspot research, videos that are an average of 26 seconds receive the most comments on Instagram.
Why keep it short? For one, people are used to scrolling quickly through their Instagram feed and stopping to watch a long video may feel unnatural to many viewers. Additionally, because videos play on a loop and you can’t rewind, it can be off putting for people to have to wait all the way through a minute long video to get back to a part they’d like to rewatch.
What about Instagram Story videos? On IG Stories, each video can be up to 15 seconds, but you can also post a longer video over multiple 15-second IG Story cards or scenes.
Is there a magic number for how many different scenes to use in a single story? Facebook recommends using multiple scenes, but to avoid going too long. They say that a story with 3 parts is the most engaging.
What about IGTV? IGTV is designed for long form video content, so here we’ll fall back on our general rule: your video should be as long as it needs to in order to get the point across.
If you decide to post your IGTV video to the Instagram feed, the first minute will play and viewers can tap through to watch the rest of the video. Learn more in our IGTV guide.
YouTube audiences differ from audiences on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram because they’re there because they specifically want to watch videos. They’re searching for video content and, as a result, are prepared to watch longer videos than they are when they’re scrolling through the feed on other social platforms.
It’s also important to note that YouTube rewards videos with more watch time by showcasing them more prominently in search results. This is because they want to keep people on their platform watching videos for as long as they can. So uploading longer videos does you a leg up when it comes to watch time. But only if your videos are engaging and viewers are sticking around to watch.
But it’s also important to remember that people get a little antsy when they’re sitting and watching videos online. That’s why 6 to 8 minutes makes for an ideal length. Of course, as we mentioned earlier, don’t force it. If you can get the information across in less than 6 minutes, don’t keep going just for the sake of watch time.
What if you can’t squeeze your entire message into 8 minutes? Think Media recommends splitting longer videos up into two parts.
On Twitter, your videos can be as long as 2 minutes and 20 seconds—matching the number of characters that a tweet can be. But Twitter users are accustomed to short updates so we recommend keeping your videos shorter.
Originally, Twitter had a 30-second limit for video uploads. Although it’s been extended, we’d still recommend staying under 30 seconds for this platform. Try creating short teaser videos and linking people out to longer-form content on your YouTube channel or on Facebook. Check out our teaser video templates for inspiration, including this one below.
For more video tips, as well as feedback on your work from fellow video creators, join our private Facebook group, the Animoto Social Video Marketing Community.