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How to find your perfect video length

The thing you’ve probably heard most when it comes to video length is that people have shorter and shorter attention spans, so get your message across as quickly and efficiently as you can. While it is true that shorter videos tend to perform better, it’s not always the case. Like most things in life, there’s no black and white answer, and it depends on a number of variables.

1. Where is the video being viewed?

Platforms like Youtube and Vimeo are the perfect place to get a little creative and tell a longer and more complex story, because watching a video is purely what the consumer is there for.

Nike and Adidas are well known for their long, drawn-out Youtube ads. And it works because it’s another form of video entertainment, which is exactly what a YouTube user is looking for.

On your own website you can be a little greedier with time as well, as the consumer has sought you out and is looking for more information. That said, broad picture ideas and introductions are what you’d be aiming for, with longer, smaller details left to the webpages themselves. Whether you’re the ad before the video they actually clicked on, or you’re lucky enough to be the content they searched for, as long as it’s entertaining or interesting its possible to hold their attention for minutes or more. For social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, shorter is usually better. Autoplay features help with capturing viewers attention, but don’t bet on that to keep them captivated for long before they keep scrolling.

2. Who is your target audience?

Someone who needs short sharp bits of critical information? Is it for those who have no idea who you are, and is designed to be the hook to get them interested?  Short is your best bet.

Someone who has heaps of time to kill? Is this video catered to people who want to find out more information on your product, who want the video to go in considerable depth?  Not hard to make the connection that these videos should be longer.
Research how your audience thinks, acts and feels, keeping in mind existing customers are more likely to watch longer and more in depth content, and new ones just want to know who you are and what you do.

An ad for people who don’t know the brand? Simply get the name and what you can do across. Short & sharp.

3. What is the aim of your video?

This can dictate so much of the content, as well as the length. The three main a goals a video can have are to
– entertain.
– educate.
– get the watcher to take action (buy a product, sign up for a newsletter, etc).

Whilst the ultimate end result will always be to get them to buy your product, many videos don’t offer a specific call to action, and some are a mix of all of them.
Those that push action are better left shorter. “Buy this product!”, “Sign up for this!”, “Come talk to this consultant!” really can’t last very long without being boring or repetitive. Think infomercials, right?  If the video is mostly informative, offering detailed information or instructions, taking the time to get everything you want to get across is crucial. Entertainment is the fuzziest section in terms of length, in that people can be just as easily entertained by a long interesting or humorous video as a short one. Tell your story as efficiently and effectively as you can, and go from there.

After all this, analyse how your videos are being received once you’ve posted them. Find out where people are losing interest, what length receives the most positive feedback, and so on. Every video that misses the mark is a step in the right direction!

Do you think “the shorter the better” is always true, or do you prefer longer videos?

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