Video marketing is going to be a big deal in 2019. Seriously.
Year after year, our attention spans get shorter and shorter. The fact that Vine (short-form video hosting app) (RIP) went mainstream should tell you that. So, thanks to our collective attention deficit, content creators have a limited window to engage viewers with video. Different platforms support various lengths of content, but regardless of where you’re sharing your video, the length of the content affects viewer engagement. We’re going to chat about optimal lengths for online video content and how to use that time in the most effective way for your market.
We as humans typically suck at paying attention – unless something really grabs us. When that happens, we stick around for the long haul and become fans, and then you have our attention for good (basically). We’re pretty easily manipulated. So how do you navigate that information as a marketer? Cater to our short attention spans by getting to the point fast. Then, if you have more to say, go on with it. Generally, long-form video content is accepted as long as you don’t waste people’s time. Tell the audience what to expect in the first several seconds of your video. They’ll appreciate your transparency, start to trust your brand, and be more likely to devote more of their time to your content.
Speaking of building trust, we’re gonna start practicing what we preach. From now on, blogs will have a “Bottom Line” section at the top (because why should you have to scroll to the bottom for the bottom line?) where you can get the main takeaways from the post and then decide if you want to move on with your life or get more of the story. It’s like an abstract before a long academic journal article – except this won’t be boring.
How long is the average attention span?
Research indicates the average adult attention span is about 8 seconds. Yeah, we’re almost as bad as goldfish. With an unlimited supply of video content out there, there’s always something else to watch. So you’ve got to win the hearts of your viewers and do it before they click off in search of the next 8 seconds of gratification.
According to AdAge, “if you have not fully engaged your audience after the first 30 seconds, you’ve likely lost 33% of your viewers, and after one minute, 45% of viewers have stopped watching.“ With the sheer information overload that exists on the internet today, people just don’t always have the time to devote to a longer video.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be putting out long-form video content. It just means you’ve got to do it right. People don’t have all the time in the world to devote to longer videos, but they will give their attention to the brands they love. Because there is just so much content available, audiences can be picky, so you need to identify who you’re targeting and make them love you.
What is the Best Length for Video?
It’s best not to bury the lede when it comes to video content. Get to the point and make it quick. Think about the point you’re making, cut out all the fancy stuff, and you’re probably left with a sentence or two – you can get that message across in less than 8 seconds, right? Even if they click off after a minute, they still will have absorbed the information you wanted them to.
If you’re doing a demonstration or another type of video that will take longer than the suggested limit for your platform, clearly tell viewers what they’re going to see as soon as possible. Set expectations. Try to avoid clickbait or false advertising. Use this technique to build credibility with your target demographic.
If the video is a tutorial for snaking a drain (you’re welcome for the visual), open the video with “I’m going to show you how to snake your nasty shower drain.” Show them a sample final product if you can. If you establish that you’re sharing quality information that your audience truly needs, they’re more likely to stick around for the longer video.
When to Go Long-Form
In the YouTube Advertisers kickass educational series, Unskippable Labs gives us some great insight into considering mental stimulation versus emotional connection when it comes to the length of time it takes to tell an engaging story. Though I mentioned our attention spans are shorter than ever, that doesn’t necessarily mean every piece of content has to cater to these conditions. Just because we can comprehend a concept in say, a second, doesn’t mean we won’t stick around for two minutes if we’re really feeling it.
So when do you rush through your story, and when is it okay to slow down and drive the message home?
While we do live in a fast-paced world, longer ads can build brand loyalty and return positive results. Longer-form video absolutely has its place in marketing. The more time we spend connecting with a brand, the more likely we are to trust that company.
The key determinate is the story. If you’re just using the video to promote a few new stats or components of a new product, then you might decide to go with the quick informative clip that tells the audience what they came to hear and that’s all. But if you have a story to tell, YouTube’s research says go for the longer video. Storytelling is as powerful as ever with more consumer awareness centered on brand ethics and the people behind the company. Consumers want to know who they’re buying from. They want to hear your grassroots story about how you started-from-the-bottom-now-you’re-here.
Video marketing is the place to let your target audience get to know you before you meet them.
Best Length for Video per Platform
Recommended Reading: 3 Reasons Why Someone Would Share Your Video Content
If you’re just considering the optimal length of time people will spend watching videos on a specific platform based on statistics alone, we’ve got the numbers for you. According to HubSpot, there are optimal video lengths for each platform. Here’s the breakdown for the best video length:
- Instagram: 30 seconds
- Twitter: 45 seconds
- Facebook: 1 minute
- YouTube: 2 minutes
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and relevancy.
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