Marketing in the digital age has become a battle over people’s attention. As we become more and more inundated with screens, social platforms and videos, attention spans continue to shrink. A marketer’s goal is to capture as much of someone’s time before they click, scroll or swipe away to the next thing. It’s no secret that video content is the best way to get someone’s attention. But how should a video be crafted to make the best impression on that viewer’s attention? The most important thing to look at here is the length.

Human attention spans are growing shorter and shorter, now falling behind even goldfish. It is obvious that content should not drag on. But when it comes to length, it’s not as easy as making your video “short.” Depending on factors such as platform and target audience, “short” can mean a number of things. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube all have different ideal lengths. These lengths are based on what users typically come to the platform hoping to watch.  Expectations of engagement time vary widely from YouTube to Twitter.

YouTube

The most robust home for video also carries the need for the longest content. Users log onto this leading  platform looking for in-depth content that will keep them occupied. The nature of subscribing to specific channels and creators means that people come in mostly knowing what they want to watch and how long they want to spend watching it.

In recent years, YouTube has shown a tendency to favor longer videos, around the 10 minute mark. Content creators have struggled getting their content in front of subscribers if they fall under this length. When thinking about it from a marketing standpoint, this length requirement doesn’t directly apply. But it does create a unique definition of “short” when creating commercial video for YouTube.

Users aren’t scrolling through a number of posts during a YouTube session. So if you want to make an impression, its best to stay around the two-minute mark. You can use this length to create a how-to tutorial or product demo. Ideally, it will be run as an advertisement in front of another channel’s video.

“For the majority of people, a 15 second ad is fine, 30 seconds is acceptable, and a minute is pushing it,” adds our in-house videographer Matt Crum. “Anything over that is really for your existing audience or someone who is already on the verge of becoming a client.”

The ad can either be a shortened version of the full two minute video, which would be posted on your channel, or it can be the full content with the option to skip after a few seconds. Both methods are equally effective, so long as the user has a way to click through to your channel.

Facebook

Choosing the right  length for Facebook is all about catering to sharing. If the audience for your content isn’t incredibly broad, that same 2-minute mark might work perfectly. But if you’re reaching a wide audience and your content is highly shareable, you’ll want to trim a minute off of that length. Similar to YouTube, longer videos are better suited for speaking directly to a targeted audience.

Social media platforms, especially Facebook, are often viewed on mute. This is important to consider when planning how much of a viewer’s time you are going to take up. Because the user needs to get the point without hearing anything, the video needs to be long enough to get the idea across. This is the reason why you want your video to last between 1 to 2 minutes. A 30-second video, while better suited for a user scrolling through their feed, is too short to effectively communicate a message without sound.

With this in mind, it’s important to be sure that your video remains visually interesting from start to finish. One minute doesn’t seem like a lengthy amount of time at all, but your video can’t just be footage of someone talking with subtitles for muted viewers. The visuals need to accurately represent the value of your product or service during the time you have. This means that multiple shots are needed. Or if your video is a product demo or tutorial, the subject of the video should be using or interacting with your product the entire time, rather than pausing to explain something.

Instagram

Instagram has a video limit of 60 seconds. The ideal length of a video on this platform is actually far less than 60 seconds anyway. According to HubSpot, 30 seconds is best, as videos that get the most comments typically average about 26 seconds in length.

Since this service only allows for short clips, flashy visuals are a requirement. You want the user to experience an incredibly brief, but compelling clip that encourages them to follow a link in your page’s bio. It is also important to remember that videos loop on Instagram and are played on mute as long as the device is set to silent mode.

Create your video with these things in mind. People often rewatch looping videos multiple times if they are brief enough. Quick, flashy cuts  will make viewers feel the need to watch it again to take it all in. Even though it is short, viewers will spend enough time with it that an impression will be made.

Get your video stream started

You will want multiple versions and cuts of your commercial video in order to integrate it well with each of these services. Your full video can be cut into its most visually interesting and flashy shots. The goal is to push the viewer to the full version, and eventually to your website or product page. There is still time left to enter our Bundle Up video giveaway contest. Your business has a chance to win a video package of varying lengths, each best for a different video platform.

Have questions? Meet the King & Columbus team at our monthly marketing meet up.