Trying to keep up with all of the different social media platforms is hard. Designing a content marketing strategy across all of them is even harder. Each platform has a different demographic, along with unique posting rules. Layered on top of that are constantly changing user preferences and new best practices desperately trying to keep up.
What has stayed constant for several years is that social videos get more engagement than static content. People don't often stop scrolling to read a block of text. They might spend a second or two on an image. But, a good social video can get someone to stick around long enough to convey a message.
The trick is to tailor your social videos to the platform's audience. Meanwhile, you also have to work within the constraints the platform imposes. So, how long should your videos be on each social media platform?
Here's a quick guide to the current best practices to get the most out of your social videos:
There's one rule on SnapChat — Be snappy. In general, a video post needs to stay under ten seconds. You are allowed to go much longer if you're paying for an advertisement. But, just because you can, doesn't mean you should. The App itself suggests that the best practice is a video of around three to five seconds.
The TikTok audience craves short, punchy content. Everything about TikTok is geared toward short social video content. Whether it's the hottest dance moves or the funniest mom prank, TikTokers are highly engaged with quality content.
If you want to break through the millions of posts, you are going to need something people will stop and watch for a few seconds. But, only a few seconds. Some of the most successful videos on TikTok are only seven seconds long. On this platform, you want to keep things in bite-sized pieces.
Consider the fact that Instagram is a purely visual platform. People don't go there to spend a lot of time reading posts. Instead, they rely on the old saying that a picture speaks a thousand words. And it does so in mere seconds.
The platform lends itself to a visual product demonstration. But, you only have the user's interest for about 15 seconds. One idea for a Pinterest video is to turn static images into short-form videos to showcase your product. The idea is to use a compilation of pictures from different angles. Just be sure to remove the background to get rid of distracting elements.
Instagram is another highly visual platform. With this in mind, it's easy to realize that the Instagram audience has a short attention span. To get the most out of this platform, you need to have a strong hook in the first three seconds. Then, you need to get to the point in a hurry. Otherwise, the audience resumes scrolling before you hit the tagline.
Knowing this, the company started out limiting videos to one minute. That limit has since been increased, but the audience hasn't changed. You need to keep social videos on Instagram to 30 seconds or less.
That's not too hard to accomplish. We've been watching 30-second TV spots for decades. Now we are seeing success with the same approach in new ways. For example, check out the Instagram strategy by ActiveCampign. They are using the platform to inform their audience about the key points of their services, such as marketing automation.
The stereotypical user of LinkedIn is there to share or consume business content. But, that doesn't mean videos that feel like boring meetings will perform well. The goal is still to keep it short. Target a length of under 30 seconds.
People will watch an informative video, but only if the topic interests them. You can even sneak some product placement into it without offense. For example, there's nothing wrong with a LinkedIn video that gives financial advice while also pitching a Revvi credit card. No matter what you're trying to achieve with your social video on LinkedIn, try to do it in under 30 seconds.
One of the original social media giants, Twitter is a place to share what's going on in real-time. It's designed to be a quick-hit posting site. That was the whole point of the 140-character limit. You need to get to the point in a hurry. Even with the recent increase to 280 characters, brevity is best.
The entire user experience on Twitter is built around speed. The ideal level of engagement is to get someone to hit the like and retweet buttons, then move on. It's often a bad sign when a tweet gets too many comments.
The same rules apply to social video posts. Your goal is to get noticed, followed, and retweeted. Therefore, you are looking for a video length of around 30 seconds here too. However, data suggests that Twitter users stay on videos a little longer than Insta. A video of 45 seconds will work just fine.
The original social media platform is still a giant in the industry. While it seemed to be a place to store family photos for a while, social videos are becoming a huge part of its appeal. To compete with other platforms, Facebook seems to give priority to content uploaded directly to its site, rather than sharing videos uploaded to YouTube or elsewhere.
According to Facebook's best practices page, you have two routes to go here. First, you can go short-form for quick-hit announcements, teasers, and advertisements. Facebook says to keep these under one minute. Second, if you're learning how to become an influencer, Facebook recommends a minimum of three minutes per video for your live streams, storylines, and shows. That is probably why a video of under three minutes doesn't qualify for mid-roll ads.
People go to Youtube specifically to watch videos. Often, they are visual learners that prefer watching how something works rather than reading about it. As such, this platform lends itself to longer, deeper content. For example, Tsplus uses YouTube to provide detailed video explanations of how its remote support software works.
YouTube is a great option for anyone looking for more time to describe why their product is better than the competition. It's even better for showing customers how to install, use, and troubleshoot it. But, YouTube is also a decent place for short-form content. There's nothing wrong with including your 30 to 60-second social videos in your library. Finally, you should know that if you're trying to monetize your video, it has to be at least 10 minutes long to qualify for ads.
So, YouTube video lengths depend on your goal. If you're looking to go viral, keep it short. The general rule is to stay under two minutes. If it's an explainer that people search for, you can go longer. But, still, try to get to the point. And, if you're an influencer trying to monetize, you have to go over 10 minutes per video.
Just to recap:
No matter which platform you use, keep in mind that people have short attention spans. If you're trying to attract engagement with your video, you have to get to the point fast. But, if people are seeking out your content, you can hold their attention far longer. Check out this graphic that plots user engagement against the length of a video:
Of course, every company has unique needs and circumstances. So, your social media content marketing strategy will also be unique. But, keep the above tips in mind as you formulate a plan. If you're on a budget, you might be tempted to use a single video across all platforms. That's a viable option, but you'll have to aim at the shortest target for that to work. That means sticking to 15 seconds. Or, perhaps that means going for 30-second spots and not bothering with Snapchat, TikTok, and Pinterest.
If you're going for long-form content, Facebook and Youtube are the only real options. You'll want to use short-form social videos on the other platforms to drive traffic to your monetized videos. And, of course, the rules are different if you're trying to be an influencer. The trick is to use a large volume of bite-sized content on the faster apps to build an audience.
While you're preparing all of these videos of varying lengths for each social media platform, don't forget that quality matters. With BIGVU, you can record, edit, and post your videos – all under one roof. From writing a script to adding captions to trimming your videos and tapping into gazillions of other features, we want our users to knock their video creation + marketing journey out of the park.
Excited to try BIGVU? Sign up for free here.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, content marketing, and SEO. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Content Solutions, a digital marketing agency. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.