Everything You Need to Know About Putting Your Videos Online
Ready to maximize the reach of your video content? Here are the ideal video lengths, specs, voice, and style for Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo.
As Facebook and Google slowly take over the world, those of us in the business of creating video content have no choice but to upload our work on the most popular platforms. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Google, YouTube and Facebook are the most successful for a reason — they provide the best service, support, and functionality out there. Vimeo joins the video ranks for the same reasons, but not quite at the same click.
Which is all to say, if you plan to share your personal or professional videos with audiences online, your best bet is through one (or all) of the following. Here are the ideal lengths, specs and voices for each of these top online platforms.
At the beginning of 2016, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed that Facebook users watched “100 million hours of video a day” and “500 million people watch Facebook videos every day.” While these claims are hard to substantiate, they aren’t unreasonable at all when you consider Facebook averages over one billion active users a day. So to reach the millions and billions of users with your content, here’s everything you need to know.
- Format: H.264 with ACC audio in MOV or MP4 format
- Aspect Ratio: No larger than 1280px wide and divisible by 16px
- Frame Rate: At or below 30fps
- Audio: 44,100hz
- Max Length: 120 minutes
- Max Size: 4 GB
Ideal Length: 30-60 Seconds
The good people at NewsWhip recently did an external audit on some of the most popular Facebook news channels (including BuzzFeed, NowThis, AJ+, BBC News, Daily Mail and The Guardian) on their average video lengths.
In general, the advice available online regarding video length on Facebook tends to be summed up by “the shorter the better.” There are plenty of anecdotes about poor view counts being remedied by cutting videos down to their absolute essentials and being displayed in more Facebook-friendly styles.
Voice and Style
In 2013, Facebook made the (arguably dubious) decision to have their videos auto-play when you scroll past them on your newsfeed. They were kind enough to grant users the favor of having their videos auto-mute as well. This courtesy has gone on to change the voice (or lacktherof) and style of Facebook videos for the next several years to the present.
Since they will always begin silent, Facebook videos make a heavier use of text than YouTube or Vimeo. They are also fighting against a scroll away, so they must grab interest in the first few seconds to earn a viewer’s attention. For these reasons, Facebook videos need to be click-baity and flashy at the get-go and establish their content’s catch very fast. They need to present information on screen through titles and text (not audio) and be clear early on to their viewer about what the video is and what they want to convey.
Examples of Facebook Videos
Google bought YouTube in 2006, a year after it was founded during a Silicon Valley dinner party. Its user numbers are on par with Facebook, with almost a third of all Internet users using YouTube. For content creators, it stands out for its ad revenue sharing model which allows users to monetize their content natively within the website. MDG, an advertising agency, did a study a few years ago that estimated that the top 1,000 channels earn an average of $23,000 a month.
Image via TubeFilter
The potential for monetization, combined with top brand authority, makes using YouTube for your content an absolute must. Here are their recommended specs for your videos.
- Format: H.264 with ACC-LC audio in MP4 format
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (non-16:9 will be processed and displayed with pillar boxes)
- Frame Rate: 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 60fps
- Audio: 96khz or 48khz
- Max Length: 15 mins (unverified), 11 hours (verified)
- Max Size: 128 GB
Ideal Length: Around 3 Minutes
According to a study done by ComScore, the average YouTube video length is 4.4 minutes long. This is consistent with an in-depth study done by Wistia (another video hosting site) that has more control on its numbers. The Wistia report goes on to detail the engagement percentages and its steady drop off as videos get longer and longer.
Both studies by Stark Insider TV and AdWeek came up with similar 3.5 and 3 minute numbers for their recommendations as well. Overall, YouTube has communities that can thrive at much longer lengths (especially compared to Facebook), but overall follow the same rules of engagement fall off and distraction-prone audiences that push the needle to keep videos as short as their content allows them to be.
Voice and Style
It’s difficult to sum up YouTube as having any uniform voice or style. That being said, YouTube is very much a community-based platform that offers many different communities and familiar styles within. YouTube videos are often clicked through on the side bar which auto-plays after completion of a video — hence a heavy emphasis on video names and cover images. Unlike Facebook (while similar to Vimeo), videos load with sound on, but often include short ads which either have to be watched through or waited on until a “skip” button is counted down.
Examples of YouTube Videos
Vimeo, while not totaling nearly one tenth of the audience as Facebook or YouTube, has still built a very strong and reputable audience that caters more directly to the indie film community and those looking for a higher quality brand in terms of content and style. Vimeo is often the preferred choice of video professionals looking to share their videos (publicly or privately) at the highest quality possible.
- Format: H.264
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9 most common, but accepts all ratios
- Frame Rate: 60fps and lower
- Audio: AAC-LC, 320 kbit/s, 48khz
- Max Length: No limit, data based
- Max Size: 500MB a week (non-Plus account), 5GB a week (Plus account)
Ideal Length: 3 to 5 Minutes+
Ideal Vimeo video length is a little tricker to quantify than YouTube or Facebook. In contrast to YouTube and Facebook, Vimeo doesn’t really operate in a click-baity way at all. It is fully community based where you can expect to watch videos from people you know, or to share professional reels or videos with specific audiences. Video lengths vary project to project and are usually viewed by parties with vested interests.
However, the common sense rules still apply. Videos that go 15 minutes or longer are not going to be watchable for many people on busy schedules. A quick look through the last few pages of Vimeo Staff Picks reveal that most of the videos sit between 3-5 minutes, with a few outliners being 10 or 15 minutes or longer.
Voice and Style
Vimeo’s voice is very much in line with that of its audience. The filmmakers on Vimeo tend to reward storytelling, cinematography, and creativity. Animation and motion design are also very highlighted with reels and narrative shorts. In contrast to YouTube and Facebook, Vimeo gives videos a chance to breath with simple layouts that focus on the video. They also don’t force you to watch advertisements.
Examples of Vimeo Videos
While there’s no reason to not utilize all the video platforms available online, it is helpful to understand each one to help you with your planning, exporting and marketing.
If you’d like to explore less-mainstream platforms, here a few to check out.
You can also read more about creating and uploading 360-videos on Facebook and Youtube on RocketStock.
What’s your online video platform of choice? Let us know in the comments.