How Long Should A YouTube Video Be?

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Humans have short attention spans. And thanks to the great distraction known as the Internet, it’s getting harder than ever to focus on one thing at a time.

Short Human Attention Spans

Attention span has a pretty direct impact on content and video marketing. SumoMe looked at 650,000 sessions and found that only 20% of people actually read articles start to finish. We assumed there’s a similar drop-off in video engagement, so you should know when you should go long, and if there are any situations where seconds matter.

We confirmed our theory that humans have really short attention spans, but we found some other useful takeaways too.

The Ideal Video Length

How do you determine the ideal length for your videos to keep viewers engaged?A bit of research on the topic pulls up answers stating that the perfect video length is everything from two to five minutes to 10 to 12 minutes to a strict “no more than two minutes.”

Engagement is steady up to 2 minutes, meaning that a 90-second video will hold a viewer’s attention as much as a 30-second video. This is surprising and actionable information for video marketers. If you’re making short videos, you don’t need to stress about the difference of a few seconds. Just keep it under 2 minutes.

To some extent, the length of your videos should depend on what kind of videos you’re producing.Are you looking to put together an “about” video, testimonial videos or product videos? Or are you interested in creating a weekly feature, like an industry update video?

While weekly features can be longer, most business-heavy videos should be under two minutes if you want to hold the viewer’s attention for the duration of the content. Evidence suggests there is significant drop-off in viewership if it’s any longer.

Some viewers will stay longer, but if that’s the direction you choose, you’ll need to front-load your videos with the most important content. If the most critical points are at the middle or at the end of the video, most of the people watching your video will have missed those key points.

The engagement decay really starts to level off after the 6-minute mark. Every second counts between 2 minutes and 6 minutes, but there’s hardly any drop-off between 6 minutes and 12 minutes. If your video ends up being 8 minutes instead of 7 minutes, it shouldn’t have a significant effect on engagement.

Just like writing, a video needs to be as long as it needs to be. Videos beyond 12 minutes are likely either narrative-driven stories or intense tutorials. In both cases, the viewers expect the video to be longer.

Still, every minute beyond 12 means you are losing people. And while the drop-off from 12 minutes to twenty minutes is less steep than the drop-off from 2 minutes to 6 minutes, it’s important because longer videos are often more expensive and time-consuming to make.It’s safe to assume that your viewers have short attention spans and plenty of distractions. The ideal length depends on the content, the context, and the viewer. So study your engagement graphs and keep it interesting!

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