Thursday, July 9, 2015

What is the Ideal Length for a YouTube Video?

People ask me this all the time: what is the ideal video length? You hear (silly) statements such as, “We are in the YouTube era, nobody watches video more than three minutes.” People make these  blanket statements ofabsolute nonsense, so let’s take the time to walk through these myths.
Fact: the concept that people only watch short videos online is simply false.
If you think about it logically, YouTube has spent millions ofdollars putting up full-length concerts, all-day festivals and other all-day events; simply because people do consume long-form content.

They also put up a lot ofpolitical events, speeches and debates that are all consumed in great quantities. YouTube would not spend millions putting up long-form content ifpeople didn’t watch it.
The reason why most videos are only three minutes in length is because most people only have three minutes of content to say. Or, they are building videos for an audience with three-minute attention spans. Ifyou only have three minutes ofcontent to say, and you have an audience with a three-minute attention span, obviously deal with that audience; but the idea that only short videos are consumed is absolutely ridiculous.
If you want to leave the world of YouTube, consider Hulu, which has hour-long television shows, or Netflix, with feature length films. People are willing (and happy) to consume full-length content online ifit is good. Do you think HBO would have launched their stand alone Internet service this
year iflong form content wasn’t something people are looking for? Truth be told, my most profitable video to date is over an hour and twenty minutes in length and has been viewed more than 50, 100 times. YouTube Analytics tells me my audience retention is better than average for most ofthe video and I hope to do more like that one in the future.

So what is the ideal video length? How long should you make your video?

The answer is actually quite simple: make your video as long as it needs to be and not one minute longer. The fact ofthe matter is, you have to know your audience to make that decision. You have to know what it is they are looking for and you have to deliver the right content for them. Understand that they can click out – they can go anywhere they want – and that there are a myriad of competitors for the very piece ofinformation you are trying to stream on YouTube. For that reason, the video needs to be as long as it needs to be; and not one minute – actually, not one second – longer.

So what are the action items? What can you do?

It’s an interesting era that we are in – with massive hard drives, unlimited upload space, and the ability to send hours ofvideo to YouTube – and we do often tend to go longer than we need to. Your action item is easy: don’t. When producing your video, figure out exactly what you have to say; and more importantly, figure out exactly what you don’t need to say. Then, say only what it is that you need to say, and say it very quickly. Also, what happens after a video is consumed? Make that part ofthe content; but again, do that quickly. Another tip for you is to tell your viewer how long your video is up front; it helps tremendously. What would you rather watch, a video called “Social Media Marketing” or a video called “Social Media Marketing Explained in 3 Minutes and 7 Seconds?” Think about it; I’ve got three minutes so I’ll give that a go. So it can be a strategic implementation, but don’t worry about going longer ifyou need to.
Serve your audience; don’t worry about a magic number

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