What is the best length for an online video?

I'm often asked by clients what is the best length for online videos. My answer is always the same. When it comes to deciding the length of videos for marketing campaigns, the first and most important rule is always: Keep it short!

The majority of videos published as part of an online marketing campaign tend to be less than 2 minutes long. There are different ideal video lengths for different social platforms. So it’s important to distinguish the differences between these video lengths when planning your video marketing strategy.

Four Types of Video Length

  • Micro-content (up to 15 seconds): Used as short, informative teasers, previews, in social media like Facebook or Instagram.
  • Social-Media content (up to 90 seconds): Used as entertaining or informative videos in all social media platforms. To be on the safe side, I would recommend producing videos not longer than 60 seconds. The reason for this is that Instagram has a video limit of 60 seconds, so you don’t have to re-edit your clips again if you want to post that video across different social media platforms.
  • Full-length videos (up to 2.5 minutes): Used on a website. With this type of video you can expect to have an interest in your topic/product because your visitor is actively looking for information.
  • Longer than 2.5 minutes: For content of proven interest, like mini-documentaries, interviews, presentations for a targeted or established audience.

When I begin working on a project, one of the first questions I ask the client is, what is the purpose of the video? A fifteen second teaser on social media performs a very different task to a two minute topic or product video on a website. It's important to know what you are aiming for right from the start.

The fifteen second micro-content teaser is a great way of growing an audience for your business. It's short and sweet, and leaves the viewer wanting more. It solves a specific problem or answers a question for your target audience in a very short amount of time. Micro-content is a great way to lead your audience deeper into the funnel, with the short-term goal of helping them learn about your products/services and the long-term goal of closing deals. I'll be going into the ins and outs of micro-content videos in more detail in another article.

Just as micro-content plays an important role in your content marketing strategy, so too does the full-length video (up to 2.5 minutes). However, where the micro-content video helps in the crucial steps of forging a relationship with your target audience, the standalone, full-length video takes your target audience on a different journey. They are actively looking for information on a topic or product with which they already have a minimal interest. It's a great way of providing them with more information about your business or service.

Videos longer than 2.5 minutes are more suited to content of proven interest. It's a great way of distilling a worthy topic into short-form content for an established audience. Mini-documentaries of three, four or five minutes are a great way of telling your brand story. Also known as 'native video', this type of video content offers a great way of seeing the human face of a story, of really digging into the emotions in a way that you couldn't do with text. Unlike traditional ads you skip or zone out during, native video is the story. It's created to delight and entertain. When done right, you can't ignore these films.

So, how long should your video be? ...15 seconds, 90 seconds, 2 minutes, or longer?

It all depends on what you want your content marketing strategy to achieve.