What Is the Best Length For A Video for Each Social Media Platform
The best length for a video is two minutes or less and this advice comes with conditions. Different platforms, messages and audiences require different video lengths. The trends toward micro-content means viewers expect videos to be shorter on platforms that allow long-form videos.
You will see the best results when you make targeted videos that are only as long as they need to be instead of sticking to rigid guidelines. This means you deliver one message in an entertaining way without tangents or fluff.
Keep reading on for a more in-depth dive into your ideal video lengths for various social media platforms and hosting situations. We have organised the most important points into a handy way that explores the best length for a video – be it for business or entertainment.
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Where did the two-minute rule originate from?
Back in 2016, a study by Wistia found that audience engagement drops off considerably after about 2 minutes which is about 5% points from minute 2 to minute 3. After this, engagement continues to drop at a similar rate until you hit the 6 ½ minute mark.
This is when it levels off just above 50%. Video engagement stays at this level until about the 13-minute mark when engagement begins to drop again.
There are a couple of important points to note here. First – any video length up to two minutes maintains the same level of engagement. Whether your video is 15 seconds long or 110 – you will see the same level of engagement.
Second – people do not automatically walk away at the two-minute mark. Some people will start to leave at this point but you still have the bulk of your audience.
If your video really needs to be at least six minutes then audiences who have stuck with you this long will likely hang on a little longer so do not cut your content short for fear of losing them. If you are offering something useful or entertaining then they will probably stay with you for another few minutes.
However there are a few limitations to Wistia’s data that we should point out. Wistia is a video software and hosting company that works mostly with businesses that apply to self-hosted videos but may not be as relevant to social media platforms.
Their data also includes about 560,000 videos that have not been segmented based on audience, goals or industry which means that we are dealing with averages here. In short – your results may vary.
How to Choose the Best Length for a Business Video
If two minutes is just a broad guideline – how do you decide how long your video should be?
The answer is simple – your video should be exactly as long as it needs to be and no longer which means that you are not aiming for a specific number of minutes or seconds. You should focus on your message and how to make it clear, concise and engaging.
These best practices will help get you started and they are all equally important.
1. Start with a single - focused message
If you try to convey too many messages viewers are unlikely to hear any of them. Multiple messages require longer and more complex videos. The attention of your viewers may wander.
If your topic is complex then drill down to a single question and just answer that. If necessary – you can create a series of videos to cover other related questions.
The key takeaway is: stay focused. Videos that take too long to get to the point lose viewer interest.
2. Where does your video fits in the marketing funnel
If someone has never heard of your business or product – they do not know what to expect and it might be too much to ask them to commit to a long video. On the other hand, videos for your established audiences can be much longer.
For example – a video tutorial on how to use your product might need to be less than a minute long if it is going to be shared on social media. The video that will be emailed to customers after they have purchased a product can be a little longer.
In the first case – your goal is to help new customers decide whether your product is easy to use. In the second case – you go into more detail because users are relying on you to help them understand what they have purchased.
3. Plan your video length based on your platform
From social media to self-hosting, the platform will determine how long your video can and should be. Do not just create a video and blast it out on every channel.
Make sure to learn and be aware from the start where you intend to share your video. We examine ideal video lengths for each platform in detail below.
Best Length for a Video By Platform
Every platform has its own length guidelines based on what the platform is capable of hosting and what it thinks its audience wants to see. When selecting an ideal video length, always keep your intended distribution channel in mind.
Here are some of the more common platforms and guidelines for each.
Length: 15 seconds
For Facebook feed video ads, you can share ads as long as 241 minutes. Yes – that is minutes and not seconds so in theory – you could have a Facebook ad that runs for 4 hours. We do not recommend doing so and neither does the platform. Facebook says that more people will watch to the end of video ads that are 15 seconds or less.
In-stream video ads – this are ads played while someone is watching another video can be no more than 120 seconds and should be much shorter to avoid annoying your audience.
Remember – you are serving this ad to someone who is actively watching something else therefore minimising the disruption is a smart strategy. For videos shared on your Facebook page ensure to keep the two-minute rule in mind.
Video ads on Instagram can be no longer than 60 seconds. Facebook – which owns Instagram loves to stress that videos from Facebook can easily be repurposed as Instagram ads but this only works if your Facebook ads are short.
This is one reason why it is a good idea to apply Facebook’s 15-second guideline on Instagram too. Videos in an Instagram feed loop continuously so take that into account when planning your video.
The rebranding of IGTV as Instagram TV means that organic videos on Instagram can now be up to 60 minutes long. Instagram Reels also updated their video length limits and you can now share videos up to 60 seconds long.
Length: 16 seconds
Tik Tok lets you create videos up to 60 seconds long however the best average length was about 16 seconds according to one marketer who examined Tik Tok’s best 100 videos in 2019.
The exception might be if you are making a News Feed App Series Video Ad. In this case, you might want to aim for closer to 60 seconds.
Length: 6 - 15 seconds
Videos on Twitter can be up to 140 seconds long. For ads, Twitter recommends videos that run between 6 to 15 seconds. Keep in mind that Twitter is all about quick content consumption so shorter is almost certainly better whether sharing to followers or serving an ad.
Live videos are the exception to the shorter-is-better rule. With live videos, your goal is not to deliver a quick, focused message but you want to engage your audience in a more personal way.
Longer videos give more opportunity for your followers to see that you are live, join the stream and maybe even interact with you directly.
When the live is over – you might take 20 to 60 seconds of it and repurpose that into a video for wider sharing and only do this if you have a section of the video that includes a clear, concise message.
Slicing out any random section of your live will not achieve much. You are much better off shooting a scripted video that gets your message across for those who were unable to join the live.
The average YouTube user can upload videos that are up to 15 minutes long. Verified accounts can go much longer. The platform hosts such a wide range of videos that it is not simple to make a unilateral statement about video length.
Many of the top most viewed videos of all time are music videos featuring celebrities. The rest are videos aimed at children.
It would be a mistake to assume that what works for them will work for you. Many YouTubers recommend making your video between 10 and 15 minutes.
But these are professional YouTubers who want to make money from sponsorships and ad revenue. If your goal is to promote your business then choose your length based on where your viewer is in the funnel.
Length: 2 to 15 minutes
The 2 minute rule also applies to self-hosted videos. If you are embedding a video on your website or directing them to your Wistia, Vimeo or another hosting page then assume that most of the audience will stick around for 2 minutes and about 50 percent will be gone by the time you get to 7 minutes.
Video Length by Location in Marketing Funnel
As we mentioned above – viewers who already know and trust you are more likely to watch longer videos.
Top of Funnel: Awareness
As short as possible - 30 sec or less
Top of funnel audiences have never heard of you or do not really know what you do. These audiences are least likely to invest time into watching your message.
Keep your videos aimed at them as short as possible. Ruthlessly remove anything that is not absolutely essential to your message.
At this stage, the video should outline a problem and how you solve it and all essential info packed into a 30-second video so people who have never heard of them will be aware of your services.
Mid Funnel: Interest and Desire
Up to 2 minutes
Audiences who already know you exist are more likely to watch your videos for a longer period. People like the familiar and this gives you a few more seconds of their attention.
At this stage, your video needs to focus on a compelling case that shows why someone might want to purchase your product/services or join your organisation and be up to 2 minutes long.
Bottom of Funnel: Action
As long as it needs to be
At the bottom of the funnel – viewers are almost ready to act. They are willing to invest more time to make sure they are making the right decision.
Webinars, tutorials and other long-form content can perform well if they are aimed at customers who are almost ready or ready to act.
Attention Spans: How Short Do You Think?
If all of these different guidelines have left your head spinning – do not worry. We can simplify this even further.
You may have seen the oft-repeated statistic that the modern human’s attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish. That might convince you that the best length for a video is always as short as possible – this is not true.
If it were, we would never finish a video project. Do you have any idea how long it takes to animate even 15 seconds of quality video?
The truth is that the average person will not spend more than eight seconds watching something that does not capture their interest. Your goal is not to condense your message into eight seconds or less but give your audiences a reason to keep watching.
There are tonnes of content out there. Your audience must immediately know what your video is about and must quickly understand why it matters.
Video is useless – if audiences cannot tell what it is about, do not know why it matters and are not informed or entertained. Instead of focusing on length -focus on quality.
Concise, engaging and focused videos always outperform the competition every time.
The Secret to Optimal Video Length: Test and see
The secret of finding the perfect video length is that there is no perfect length that applies to all industries and all situations. You set your video up for success when you test several different video lengths and track your results.
You can streamline this process by partnering with a video creation company with experience in your industry. They will know what works and what does not.
Remember that video views are not the best indicator of success – unless your goal is awareness. Choose a video metric that directly correlates to your goal for the video:
- Did the person click the link at the end? This shows engagement.
- Did they actually purchase something or at least sign up for a consultation call? If so, this video is effective no matter what the length is.
The best length for a video is not a hard and fast rule – it is a starting point. Your video can be longer than the ideal as long as it is that length for a reason.
If you have padded it out with extra information or gone off on tangents then cut it down.
The best video length for a video - meets your goals
Remember these guidelines for video length are just that – guidelines. Different audiences, industries and goals demand different video lengths.
For the simple reason – our video creation experts at Best-Digital Marketing Services have helped businesses in all kinds of industries to create the ideal video for their audience and goals.
Contact us today to start creating videos that are exactly as long as they need to be.
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