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I have worked in the video industry for a while and one topic dominates most conversations no matter if you are creating a feature film or developing video content for your brand; Time.

Specifically, how long should the video or film be? For television executives, runtime (the overall length of a film or video) is important in buying time slots from television broadcasters like the CBC or NBC. The longer the time slot you need to buy, the more expensive. But for brands running video content online, it’s not the same. There is no time slots to buy, it’s a different landscape. So the question is “How long should my online video be?”

And the answer is….. it depends.

Bare with me. Runtime of your video will vary online depending on what your goal for it is. The first thing you need to decide on is the why. Why are you creating this video? Is it to create awareness/drive traffic for a product? Is it to recruit quality workers? Establishing that then determines part of what the length of your video should be. Next, figure out your where. Are you posting this video on your website only? Is it only being run as an ad on a social media platform like instagram? Depending on your why, the where is important in what format and time limit is favoured by the platform. For example, with present algorithms, Youtube favours long form content while platforms like Instagram favour short form.

Now that you know your why and where, here are a few general lengths for different type of content:
If your goal is to show your companies history and values on your website or Youtube – There really isn’t a time limit. As long as the video is entertaining and engaging, it can be as long as it takes to share your story. That being said, keeping this between 2 minutes and 5 minutes is ideal to keep engagement throughout.

Here’s an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ob2Tu3clV5M

If your goal is to drive sales or conversions through video ads on social media – You want to keep your video short and sweet. The average social media user will only spend 18 seconds watching ANY type of video on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Keep the video between 5-15 seconds with all the information they would need so you don’t lose them before the end. Just make sure you keep it engaging and not too overwhelming.

Here’s an example of an effective ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiKWSJ5_O1U

Ultimately, there really is no clear cut rule for how long a video should be, it all comes down to what you are using the video for and where you are posting it. But as long as your video is engaging, you’re on the right track.