How to choose the right video length

  • January 23, 2018
  • News

As you may have already noticed, attention spans are getting shorter. Now, before you check your messages and forget to read the rest of this post, know this. When it comes to video marketing there are no hard and fast rules for every video, it’s about tailoring the length to suit the content. No-one will watch a five-minute tutorial on how to make toast, but they will watch a five-minute tutorial on a complex task.


With the video analytics heat maps and graphs that come with video hosting site Wistia, we have noticed a drop in viewer engagement that usually occurs at around the two minute mark in a standard interview video or corporate video.

Video Length vs. engagement

Unless you’re making a 30 second TV commercial, you will likely not know what length your video needs to be, after all there are no guidelines you have to follow when you host your videos online, it could be 10 seconds or 10 hours.

But because every video is a different length, what’s the most effective length for your idea? We have noticed a drop-off in viewership for corporate and online videos that exceed the 2-3 minute mark. After the three minute mark, viewers seem to drop off, no matter how amazing the video.

Facebook Video

Social media might be one of the main reasons that attention spans are shrinking. News feeds fly by and make everything old news fast. For Facebook, you will want to adhere to the sub 2 minute suggestion, as people will often look at the length of a video before determining whether it’s something they’re willing to devote their time to. When was the last time you watched a video on Facebook longer than 2 minutes? Not regularly I presume. So keep it concise, and only exceed two minutes for music videos or tutorials.

Instagram Video

With Instagram you have even less time to grab your viewer. Instagram is primarily visual, so use your maximum 60 seconds to its fullest. Use text, captions and edit to keep just the most important messages in the video. Use visually dominant techniques, like time-lapse, hyperlapse, rapid montages, anything to keep that viewer from Scrolling away. The ideal length for an Instagram video is under 30 seconds, only go for longer if you really have to.


Your goal with Instagram is to get people to watch til the end, if you can’t keep the viewer entertained for 15 seconds, you will need to re-jig your strategy.

Long-Form Videos


It may seem that if your video is longer nobody will watch it all the way through, but there are certain types of video that work well in longer form (over three minutes). Tutorials, in-depth product reviews and scripted videos can all exceed ten minutes in length and still find an audience. Tutorials are the perfect example of this. For example, you can’t teach a person all there is to know about Photoshop in two minutes. You can however do a series of five minute videos that look at different techniques and applications. One video for retouching, one for compositing and so on. These videos are effective because viewers can follow along and learn from you as you go. These are the videos that people will seek out when they are looking for answers, and they will be more open to watching for longer, as opposed to social media videos where you are asking the viewer for their time.


To conclude, short and sweet is a good rule of thumb for most videos online. Assume that your viewers don’t have a lot of time and just want to get the key message from your video. When creating in-depth tutorials, you can create longer, more detailed videos that people will seek out. If you are looking to create some short and sweet videos for online use, get in touch with Dream Engine. 





 Ryan Spanger


Ryan Spanger is one of Melbourne’s most respected and sought-after video production professionals. Ryan founded Dream Engine in 2001, and specializes in helping medium to large corporates, government departments, and the non-profit sector to connect with their audience by using video.

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