The rise of video content on social media has been one of the fastest-growing marketing trends of the decade. And for good reason—72% of consumers prefer learning about a product or service through video content compared to static content, while video ads generate a 48% higher conversion rate than static ads on social media. With the increasing demand for content in motion, brands across industries are harnessing the power of video to capture and convert online consumers.
Technology has completely transformed consumer behavior. Internet users spend almost seven hours watching online videos every week and consumers under the age of 36 spend more time watching videos on social media than traditional mediums. Consumers depend on social media channels to discover new products and services, keep up with the latest trends, and inform purchase decisions more than ever. Video is undoubtedly the most effective medium for businesses to make an impact on today’s online consumer on their channel of choice.
This is a broad question with an even broader answer. And why is that? Because every social media platform is equipped with different video requirements and performance metrics. While a 30-second video may perform best for you on Instagram Reels or TikTok, users on YouTube may be looking for something a little longer like 2-5 minutes. Trial and error is your best friend when it comes to posting video content.
That being said, it appears that across the board, videos that are around the length of 15 seconds are considered optimal. This is because the video is long enough to provide context and detail about the product or situation, but also short enough that viewers don’t find themselves losing interest or spacing out in that short amount of time. A great rule of thumb is the shorter and more informative, the better.
While YouTube will always reign supreme, other digital channels are new to the scene. Platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest are prioritizing video features and functionality to empower brands to diversify their content strategies and find new ways to engage consumers. From Instagram Reels to Pinterest Video, video has become an essential content pillar to develop an impactful social media strategy—and has proven to be more effective at engaging and converting social media users than static content.
As consumers spend more time watching video content online, they have higher expectations for the content they interact with. Not to mention, there’s a plethora of brands vying for their attention with dynamic video content. Brands need to have a pulse on their unique audience’s tastes and stay in tune with best practices to create video content that stands out in the crowded digital space, especially when it comes to optimal video length.
Instagram is committed to equipping brands with the tools and features they need to integrate video into every aspect of their content strategy. From Instagram Stories and in-feed video to newer features like Reels, and Instagram Live, the opportunities for brands to engage target audiences with content in motion are endless.
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TikTok has exploded in popularity in the last few years with the rise of social entertainment and short-form video. The app makes it easy for both creators and those who are new to social media to create funny, engaging videos for their TikTok marketing strategy and that have a possibility to go viral. TikTok has pre-set timings of 15 seconds, 1 minute and 3 minutes, but now even allows some creators to create videos up to 10 minutes long. Short-form content still prevails on the app, however––Dash Hudson research revealed that over half of TikToks are between 6 and 20 seconds in length, and as retention rate has a steep decline after the first 5 seconds, TikToks should be as short as it takes to convey your idea.
Maximum video length: 10 minutes
Optimal video length: 20 seconds or under
YouTube is unique from many other social media platforms in that it is built for both short, and long-form content. This environment has allowed for creators to dabble in both shorter content like YouTube Shorts, and longer form content that can be as long as an hour. Because of this adaptability, YouTube will always remain one of the top-performing video-first platforms for users looking to be entertained.
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When you think of Twitter, video is almost never going to be your first thought. But now, the social media platform is overrun with video, typically re-purposed from other channels like Instagram or TikTok. In fact, Twitter saw such an influx of video in recent years, that it has given users to the option to turn off automatic playback, now that videos appear on almost every post of your feed.
Maximum video length: 2 minutes 20 seconds
Optimal video length: 15 seconds or less
Facebook remains a top channel for almost every brand. More than any other channel, Facebook spans generations and is key to any digital advertising campaign. Facebook users are keen to share video content with their networks, giving brands the opportunity to make a lasting impression and tap into the power of referral.
Maximum video length: 240 minutes
Pinterest’s enhanced video features are paying off for marketers. Users are already in a purchase mindset when they head to Pinterest, so it comes as no surprise that Pinners are 2.6x more likely to make a purchase after viewing a video. Knowing how to post videos on Pinterest helps Pinners see products in action and takes them a step further down the sales funnel.
Maximum video length: 15 seconds
Optimal video length: 4 seconds - 15 minutes
Other things marketers need to keep in mind are usability on different devices (smartphones are now the primary device used to consume video), speed, and specs. The video content is only one piece of the puzzle; ensuring your target audience has a frictionless experience viewing your video is critical to making an impact.
Digging into data to understand what types of video content engage your target audience should be a top priority for marketers. Data-driven insights combined with channel-specific best practices will optimize your video performance.
Different video styles work for different brands. Fashion brands like Urban Outfitters, lululemon, and Levi’s rely on community-sourced lo-fi content to tap into a target audience that values authenticity and relatability. Food brands like Chipotle and Wendy’s are producing short but witty social-first videos to differentiate from the competitive restaurant space. CPG brands Heinz Ketchup and Heineken have mastered the art of repurposing traditional campaign content for social media to amplify their messaging.
Once you nail down the style of video that speaks to your target audience and strengthens your brand narrative, focus on the video best practices for each social channel. Video length can make or break engagement for an organic video or conversions for a video ad.
Yes. But one thing to keep in mind while building your cross-channel marketing strategy if you want to re-use the same videos is aspect ratio and length. Most channels have varying ratios and length requirements, so be sure to have multiple versions of your video available to post.
Instagram’s algorithm notably deprioritizes videos that have a TikTok watermark, so it’s a best practice for cross-channel promotion to upload native video footage.
Consumers spend 88% more time exploring online channels that have video content. High-performing video content holds the potential to not only boost your social performance but also add value to your native e-commerce channels.
While you may be tempted to include as much information as you can in an advertisement since you’re paying for it, this actually isn’t a great idea. The best practice when it comes to video advertisements is to keep them short and sweet. Anywhere around 15 seconds or less will do a suitable job of keeping viewers engaged.