How long should your videos be? It’s a question that gets asked a lot
In my experience, video length has the potential to influence two key metrics related to your videos; plays and engagement.
Play count shows you the total number of times your audience has chosen to watch your video, and engagement shows you how much of your video those people have watched as a percentage. Most video hosting services, including Vimsy, give you tools for measuring these metrics so that you can see how your videos are performing.
The modern video consumer is watching all kinds of video content at a variety of lengths, and across all types of devices too, so there’s no hard and fast rule for what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to video length, but there are a few things you should be considering.
Most video playback software will show the length of the video somewhere on the video player, or will show a timeline at the bottom of the video, and people will use the length of the video as a way of determining whether they should invest their time into watching it.
It’s going to be harder to encourage somebody who’s on the go, browsing Facebook on their phone, to watch a 15 minute video – yet that same person might happily watch that exact same video if they find it on YouTube while browsing on their laptop at home and have more time on their hands.
Video length can effect play count and engagement
To make sure your video length doesn’t effect play count consider the context of where your viewer is going to find the video. For example, don’t post longer video content to social media if your users are going to discover it while they’re on the go and don’t have time to watch it.
To make sure your video length doesn’t effect engagement, make sure your content is refined to key messages. If you can’t fit it all in to a length that’s suitable for the context of where it’s going to be discovered by your viewers, split your videos into a series that takes each of those key messages and gives them the time they need.
The more important thing though, above all of this, is that your content is interesting, educational or entertaining enough to hold your viewers’ attention… but that’s a topic for another blog post.
Does It Need To Be Less Than Three Minutes?
If you’ve been thinking about having a video produced for your business chances are you’ve been doing your research and read the discussions about how long web videos should and shouldn’t be. Well, in our opinion the length of your video shouldn’t be a defining factor in your production.
The argument for keeping your videos a certain length, e.g. under three minutes, is based on the idea that people don’t have much of an attention span and won’t sit through longer videos. But this isn’t true at all. Look at videos like TED talks, for example – most of those videos are between 7 to 15 minutes in length and they all get hundreds of thousands of views each.
If your content is useful, interesting and engaging enough your audience will sit through it, regardless of length. So if you’re giving an hour long conference talk and want to post the full thing online, do it – just make sure that every one of those minutes you publish is going to keep your viewers hooked. The moment time starts being wasted your audience will drop off.
How can you prevent audience drop-off?
You need to define the purpose of your video and work backwards. If you’re trying to sell more of your product, tell people about your product. If you’re trying to inform people about your company, tell them about your company. If you’re trying to inform people about a topic or cause, inform them of the topic or cause. Don’t start mixing messages. It’s the easiest way to make people switch off.
Secondly, know your audience. If you’re trying to bring in potential customers, keep your videos simple enough for a complete outsider to understand. If you’re trying to inform your industry peers, by all means fill your video with acronyms and insider terms. Just don’t get your audiences mixed up. Don’t talk to your industry peers like outsiders and don’t talk to outsiders like industry peers.
Third. Tell a story. Your video needs a good beginning, a middle and an end. Just like writing a book. There’s a reason why people sit through three hour films – they all tell a good story. If your video isn’t going anywhere people will switch off. So make sure you plan your story well.
Finally, what are you hoping to achieve with your video? Like the purpose, you need to know what your video is trying to achieve. If you want to generate sales perhaps keep the video shorter so your potential customers are left wanting to find out more. If you want people to learn something from watching the video then make sure you give yourself enough time to adequately explain all of the topics you want to cover.
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. We’ve worked on 3 minute promo videos, 5 minute promos, 15 minute product reviews and hour long conference talks. We’ve even worked on 15 second Instagram videos. Each one of them had a reason for being that long, so as long as your video has a reason for it, just do it. Don’t worry about how long your video is or isn’t.