Imagine this: You want to turn the chicken breasts in your refrigerator into a quick dinner. You find a YouTube video with a promising recipe. The problem? It’s 42 minutes long, and you’re quickly going from hungry to hangry. So you skip that video and look for a shorter one.
This situation happens when video creators don’t keep their target audience and viewer intent in mind when creating videos. So how long should a YouTube video be? There isn’t a definitive answer to that question, but our guide will walk you through how to determine the optimal length for your videos.
What To Consider When Creating YouTube Videos
Let’s be real here: No one wants — or has the time — to listen to you talk about a topic for 60 minutes. So when it comes to YouTube video length, the shorter the better. Trust us when we say viewers don’t want to hear your life story; they just want the answer that your video is providing. Therefore, to create a killer YouTube video, you need to cut the fluff, get straight to the point and grab the viewer’s attention right from the get-go.
Ideally, a YouTube video should be between 6 and 8 minutes long. Most video marketers agree that you risk losing viewers once your video goes over 10 minutes. Vidyard reports that long video length deters 59.9% of people from watching. And according to YouTube statistics from FortuneLords, 20% of the people who start a video leave after the first 10 seconds. That means when it comes to creating video content, you need to make every second count.
Think about it this way: Imagine asking someone a specific question, but rather than providing a fast answer, they spend 13 minutes talking about things related to your question. Frustrating, isn’t it? Chances are, even if you eventually get an answer, you’re not going to ask them a question again in the future. The same can be said for YouTube videos: If creators don’t get straight to the point, they’re not going to grow their subscriber list.
Different Lengths for Different Types of Videos
Of course, the 6 to 8-minute idea is a rule of thumb that might not apply to every type of YouTube video. Determining the exact length of your YouTube video will depend on factors such as your:
- Topic or industry.
- Target audience age and geographic location.
- Video goals.While you might aim for your video to fall between 6 and 8 minutes in length, feel free to check out comparable videos. If it seems like similar videos tend to be 12 minutes long but still achieve a lot of engagement — such as likes, comments and shares — then you may want your video to match.Additionally, consider the type of YouTube video you’re creating to determine the optimal length:
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Commentary YouTube Videos
A commentary video is when someone with knowledge about a particular topic, trend or industry discusses it. The focus isn’t so much on the creator as it is on the subject matter at hand. Viewers are seeking to learn something specific, so these videos should include concise intros and outros. If the video is part of a series, you’ll want to feature a brief recap — no longer than 30 seconds — at the beginning.
For commentary YouTube videos, aim to get your point across in under 8 minutes. To achieve this, avoid talking about yourself or making your video longer for the sake of it. Instead, give a quick introduction to who you are, provide a recap if necessary and then jump into the meat and potatoes of your content.
YouTuber Jeremy Jahns does an excellent job creating commentary videos based on movies and television. Not only is his channel well-organized for his 1.82 million subscribers, but his commentaries are concise and engaging. Even with a 30-second ad in the beginning, Jeremy provides a powerful analysis on Spider-Man: No Way Home — a 2-hour and 28-minute film — in 8 minutes:
Tutorial YouTube Videos
Tutorial videos provide clear how-to instructions for a specific topic. According to TechSmith, instructional videos should be under 20 minutes in length. Additionally, TechSmith’s 2021 report on video statistics, habits and trends found that the majority of people prefer informational videos to be 3 to 4 minutes or 5 to 6 minutes in length, and fewer than 10% of viewers prefer instructional videos over 20 minutes.
Here’s an excellent example of a tutorial teaching viewers 25 different ways they can wear a scarf in under 5 minutes:
Product or Service Review YouTube Videos
When creating review YouTube videos, keep your content under 3 minutes. If you’re having trouble meeting your 3-minute target, rework what you’re covering and make the product or service the sole focus of the video. Too many review videos feature the creator chattering about themselves or why they decided to use the product or service. Your viewers don’t want these details — they want to know how the product or service works and if it’s worth buying.
Here’s a great example of a short but informative product review video:
Listicle YouTube Videos
The length for a listicle YouTube video will vary depending on how many points you’re covering. For these types of videos, engagement is critical. While you may have a number of points to talk through, you’ll be able to keep viewers watching if you provide content in a concise manner. Cut out extra fluff — like an unnecessarily long intro — and get straight to the list.
MsMojo does a great job of creating engaging YouTube listicle videos — and her 4 million subscribers would agree. While her videos vary in length, they provide content in a straightforward and well-formatted manner. Here’s a prime example:
Key Parts of a Successful YouTube Video — Regardless of Length
When it comes to optimizing your YouTube channel, there are a few best practices to keep in mind:
Use Descriptions to Provide More Detail
If you have a lot to cover in your video, consider writing an in-depth blog on the topic and provide a link to the blog in your YouTube description. If you want to give a more detailed narrative about your background and what makes you a subject matter expert on the video topic, include that in the YouTube description as well.
Create YouTube Playlists to Organize Video Content
What do you do when you have a complicated topic that involves a lengthy response? Try breaking up your video content into a series — known as creating a YouTube playlist. This video reviews how to make a playlist on YouTube and the various benefits that a playlist can provide your channel:
With playlists, you can produce a series of short videos relating to an umbrella topic. And by creating a series of short videos that cover a central topic, users will be more inclined to view multiple videos and subscribe to your channel.
Determine Optimal Video Length With YouTube Analytics
After distributing your videos, use YouTube Analytics to see specific data on how well the videos perform and experiment with different video lengths. For example, you could create 2-minute, 5-minute and 7-minute tutorial videos, then analyze their performance to see which length has the best engagement.
Use YouTube Studio
YouTube wants creators to make videos that immerse viewers, which is why they created YouTube Studio. With YouTube Studio, creators can edit or upload new video content, manage their channel, interact with their audience and grow their subscriber count.
YouTube Videos vs. Videos on Other Platforms
While YouTube is the supreme leader of video content — Hootsuite reports that 74% of U.S. adults use the platform — other social media channels also distribute video content. If you choose to create a Facebook, TikTok or Instagram video, you’ll want to make sure your video length matches what users on that platform want to see.
For example, this Facebook Video Study from Socialinsider found that the optimal length for a Facebook video is between 2 and 5 minutes. However, Influencer Marketing Hub reports that while TikTok creators can make videos up to 3 minutes long, the ideal length for a TikTok video ad is 9 to 15 seconds and the majority of viral TikTok videos do not exceed 60 seconds.
Your Recipe for YouTube Success
When creating the perfect YouTube video, keep these 3 tips in mind:
- Grab attention with a killer intro.
- Get to the meat and potatoes of your video quickly — no fluff needed.
- Create playlists to organize your videos for a better user experience.
When you keep your viewer intent at the forefront of your video content strategy, you’ll create YouTube videos that captivate your target audience, resulting in more views and subscribers.
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