How long should your video content really be

Article: How long should your video content really be

I want to preface this article by saying that if you’re considering making promotional video content for your products and services then you want to keep the short, succinct and to the point. Ultimately you want people to watch it, see value in what you’re selling and then contact you in some form. What I want to discuss here is how long your day to day video content should be, the kind of content you share online; on your website and across social media.

Over the last 6-9 months I’ve been paying close attention to my own video consumption and that of my wife and colleagues, and what I’ve found has proved particularly interesting.

If a video was somewhere around the 90 second to 3 minute mark then I would generally watch right then and there. If a video was really long, around the 45 minutes mark or more, then I would still watch it, but I would save it for later when I consume it whilst doing something else. Anything in-between these lengths felt awkward to watch and so I generally wouldn’t. I found this to be somewhat similar with my wife and many of my colleagues as well.

Now, I have a theory as to why this is.

When we publish a video of around 3 minutes in length, it’s short enough for us to consume whilst we’re waiting for something to happen: whilst we’re waiting in line, sitting on the loo, waiting for a friend to pick us up. Because of it’s shorter length our decision to watch it is not going to interrupt any other part of our life and so it almost takes away any decision making at all, to the point that if we want to watch it we will, and most likely right then and there.

And when we publish a really long video that’s over 45 minutes long, again because of it’s length, it makes it easy for us to decide to consume it. Now most of us don’t have time to watch a 45 minute video during the day, we’re busy, we’re at work, we’re looking after the kids, we’re seeing friends and family etc. We just can’t consume it all in one go. However if we’re really interested in the content of the video, but we know it’s too long to consume at the moment of discovery, we make a conscious effort to schedule it in to our day. Now, we might not consume it all at once, we might not even watch it, however we will listen to it. It’s the kind of video that we’ll dip in and out off whilst we do something else, maybe we’ll watch it whilst we’re cooking dinner, or perhaps we’ll listen to it whilst we’re in the car on our way to and from work. The point is that if we want to watch it, we will, and because of it’s length, we know how best to consume it based on our own daily schedule.

What’s interesting is that everything that falls in the middle of these two lengths is difficult for us to decide to consume. They’re either not quite short enough so we can’t watch it instantly when we first see it, and yet it’s not long enough for us to make a conscious decision on how best to consume it. So when it comes to deciding how long a video should be, we need to first answer the question: can we get everything across in 3 minutes, or is this a 1 hour epic? If it’s neither of these things, it then become another conversation altogether.

Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t post videos of other lengths: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, if that’s how long they are and you don’t think you can cut them down, then my attitude would be done is better than perfect. However from what I’ve observed if you can work to these two magic lengths than good things will happen.

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