How long should your videos be?

Clients will often ask me how long their videos should be, as if there’s this one perfect video length out there that will help their videos reach a wider audience. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common myths in content creation. The truth is, there is no optimal video length.

Hitting some arbitrary length doesn’t intrinsically increase performance. From the algorithm perspective, there’s no such thing as a video that’s “too long” or “too short”. Rather than the video’s length, what the algorithm cares about is viewer retention. On social media, there are videos that have engagement and videos that don’t. And videos with engagement get pushed out to the masses, regardless of length.

Let’s look at the following two videos from the same creator to see this in practice:

They have similar lengths, but the first video has a 7-second increase in retention compared to the first — 28 seconds as opposed to 21. That 7 second increase may not seem like a lot, but let’s look at the total number of views. The second video has 6 million views. The first has 90 million.

That’s an 84 million view difference from a 7-second increase in retention!

What can we learn from this? The question you need to be asking isn’t “how long should my videos be?” but rather “are my videos grabbing and holding the audience’s attention?” So for organic content, your videos should only be as long as they can retain viewers (for paid media, the algorithm favors at least a 6-second retention rate). This shift in focus will help your videos perform better.

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