Bet you’re waiting for a number, aren’t you? But unfortunately, there is no figure or magic formula to indicate the maximum length that a video should be to make sure it’s watched in full and help it to go viral.
The right answer to the title of this post would be:
It depends on the type of content. For instance, a funny entertaining video is better in a short, easy-to-swallow format. On the other hand, a video with a documentary-type format can be longer.
It depends on the audience who it’s intended for. It’s obvious that a video that is meant for an involved audience highly interested in its content cannot be of the same length as a video intended for an audience with a low level of interest.
It also depends on the viewing circumstances. The length of the video will understandably depend on whether it has a captive audience or they have control over the Play button.
In any event, what is quite certain is that the duration matters.
It matters a lot.
This has a decisive influence on its effectiveness.
Video. The shorter, the better.
That is unquestionable. We live in times so overloaded with information that our attention capacity has dropped amazingly. As a result, today, our attention span stands at just 8.25 seconds. Lower than that of a fish! In other words, every 8.5 seconds we lose interest with what we were looking at or was attracting our attention.
Therefore, as senders of a message, we have to be interesting and have to be concise.
We have to reach a balance between the objective of conveying our message the fullest way possible and the need to be brief; especially when our audience has control over its viewing, because it can stop it when it wants and go on to some other content of greater interest.
You have 10 seconds to grab the spectator’s attention.
Wistia is a company for analysis and hosting of videos on Internet founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2006.
Consequently, they have a great deal of information from which they can draw relevant information on videos. In a 2016 study they analysed 564,710 videos and over 1300 million plays, so it is reasonable to think that the results are representative of the general trends for interaction with videos.
And these are the results of the study:
The announcer has the first 10 seconds of a video to grab the audience’s attention and keep it before it clicks off to go. After these 10 seconds, the engagement undergoes a considerable drop.
If it hasn’t caught their attention fully, after the first 30 seconds it is highly likely to lose 33% of its audience. And after 1 minute, 45 % of the spectators will have stopped watching the video.
After 2 minutes 60 % of the audience has gone.
This data quite naturally has to be taken very much into account when preparing a video.
The video has to have a forceful start (remember the rule of the first 10 seconds) like the one we made in this case.
And as we have already said, it has to be as short as possible. You have to be able to synthesise, which is one of the hardest jobs for a scriptwriter (and for an advertiser, when they see that they can’t tell the whole story).
And above all, it has to attempt to counteract the loss of the audience as the video goes on.
All of this can be ensured by using a very well-known technique, the oldest of them all: storytelling, quite simply telling things like stories.
Let’s tell stories.
Stories are the original form of entertainment.
People don’t think in terms of information. They think in terms of narrative. And while they focus on the story in its own right, the information gradually flows through and sinks in.
Narrations are in their own right more fascinating than facts. They have a start, a core and an end. If people are caught up in it at the beginning, they’ll stay until the end. When you hear someone tell a good story, you hang on their every word. You have started to walk along a path and you want to know where it goes. And until the story ends you don’t leave it. But the magic of stories is that they act like a vehicle helping to carry the information along that road. The information reaches your audience under the guise of something entertaining and interesting.
That’s why the narrative form of the story is the best one to increase the levels of engagement of a video and prevent your audience from giving up as the seconds go by.
So now you know: the next time you make a video, think of it in the form of a story (a short story, of course).
Oh, and if you liked this article, please don’t hesitate to pass it on!