Does video length actually matter? We’ve all grappled with this question at some point. The short answer is, yes, yes it does. As you post videos, it’s important to keep in mind that people will only watch them for a certain amount of time. Ask yourself, “what message am I trying to get across?” because that will also play a key part.

On Average

The average social media user spends on average 2 1/2 hours across various platforms a day. This time isn’t necessarily spent all in one sitting- most users are visiting these platforms multiple times a day. With that, if users are spending this much time browsing and engaging with content, then it’s likely that they won’t spend as much time watching your video if it is longer than 15 minutes.

This is because there isn’t as much commitment required to watch short videos on platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram; however, long-form video can be tedious for consumers when used incorrectly.  It’s best to keep in mind what you want viewers to do at each stage or message within your video.  Are you trying to teach, entertain, or sell?

Attention Spans (Or Lack Thereof)

On average, users will only spend 15-20 seconds on an online article before they decide to read more or move on. The same applies to videos: the most important information should be presented within the first few seconds of your video (if at all). After this period of time has elapsed, it’s likely that the viewer won’t even finish watching the video.

This is because their attention span is so limited when reading articles online.  To keep viewers engaged in your videos, keep your content concise and don’t continue talking about a topic after you’ve made your point(s).

So What’s The Magic Number?

So how long should your videos be? It depends on the type of video you’re making and who your target audience is. For a typical YouTube video, try to keep it between two and four minutes long.  If it’s a tutorial or how-to video, keeping the length closer to two minutes will be more effective since viewers won’t have as much patience for something that isn’t directly applicable to them.  On the other hand, if the information in your video is complicated or requires greater attention from viewers, then four minutes might be more suitable.

As with most types of content, consistency is key.  Just remember – there’s no magic number for making effective videos. How long they should be depends on who you’re talking to and why you’re creating them in the first place!