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Duration depends on your goals.

Are you getting a bit confused with the guidelines for videos on all the different social media platforms? Some allow a minute, others 2 hours, 30 seconds for another one. It starts to wreak havoc on your production plan if you need to say something important and the allowable time isn’t enough. Welcome to the second biggest question I get from businesses wanting to produce videos.

How long should my videos be?

What seems to be the underlying fear here is that people will click away from your video before they’ve watched all of it, or at least until you’ve really warmed to your subject and delivered your nuggets of great content. Fear not! There is a strategy to help you.

  1. Identify the platform you want to post on. If you’re using Instagram or Snapchat you have to keep it under a minute. Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and your own website have fewer restrictions but most folks can say what they need to in under 20 minutes.
  2. What is it you want to share? Can you distill your message down to meet the limits of the platform? Automakers can tell a great story to sell a car in under 30s. In fact the 30s commercial is an art form in itself. If you need more time, target the platforms that offer more latitude. If you can keep it brief, you can post it on all the platforms you use so viewers can see it.
  3. Viewer habits on social platforms vary. Users have different tolerances depending on what they’re looking at as well. YouTube and Vimeo are ‘sit back’ experiences where the viewer intends to commit more time to watching (with the audio turned on) than they will on Instagram or Facebook. So if you need to share something vital like how to repair Grandma’s precious Cézanne, you’ll need more time. The upside is the person seeking tips on repairing multi-million dollar oil paintings probably has more than a minute or two to watch it.
  4. Promotion, publicity or inspirational content works best under 60s duration because it’s the sort of subject matter viewers are accustomed to seeing as ‘advertising’ and their patience is limited.
  5. When motion picture was invented, it was followed very quickly by editing. You’ve probably seen promos on TV for an upcoming show. If your content is long but you want to promote it, make a 30-60s clip with some highlight scenes or shots and direct your viewer to the platform where the longer duration content resides. This also helps to drive new subscribers to your other platforms.

In an upcoming blog post, I’ll discuss the ways to be successful with shaping your content so it keeps those eyeballs and users don’t click away too early.

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