How Long Should My Video Be?

Randall Gerber, CEO, The Gerber Group

The human animal’s attention span is shrinking shorter and shorter.  MTV and its music videos played a roll.  Today’s plethora of devices, children, home and work tasks continues driving the span down.

Most hospital videos NOT to be posted on the Internet should be limited to 5-7 minutes. 

Yes, a producer/director will have to deal with hospital leadership telling you that this doctor just HAS to be in it or you can NOT cut out the VP of Quality.  So, it end’s up running 9-10 minutes.  People watch it.  But they lose interest somewhere in the 5 minute range.


What about Healthcare Social Media Video?

I’m gonna start with the answer and work backwards from there.  The best length is 2-2.5 minutes. Why?

In today’s world, when people are multitasking, they likely are watching your social media video during a commercial break on their cable TV show?  That break?  About 2.5 minutes.  They can watch you video and never miss a beat in their program.

But wait there’s more.  In the good ol’ days of Rock and Roll radio, how long were most of the songs?  About 2.5 minutes.  (That’s because the DJ needed quite a few breaks between records to play commercials.)

How long does a news story usually last – about 2-2.5 minutes.  That way the news program can get in a variety of stories to touch a multitude of interests and geography…and have enough breaks to play their commercials.

So, as a society, we Americans have been programmed to absorb information in bites that are somewhere around 2 minutes long.

Sure, some stories are shorter.  A few longer. 

Ultimately, the answer to the question of  “How long should a social media be?” is “it should be long enough to tell the story.”  After all’ that’s what you are trying to accomplish.  Tell a story with a beginning, middle, end – captivating, possibly eye catching. 

I’m not a big fan of the minivideos on social media that are limited to 5-seconds or 15-seconds.  These may be good teasers or promotional videos to drive people to the longer video.  But unless it’s a kitty, squirrel or drunken college student – it probably won’t work in the short format.

So how do you tell those “complex” healthcare stories in 2-2.5 minutes?

Good directors/editors know what to put into a story.  The great editors know what to leave out to tell the story without boring the viewer.