How Long Should Social Media Videos Be for Influencers? (TikTok & Instagram Reels)

There is an ideal social media video length for influencers? We dig into recent data to determine how long your creators' TikToks and IG Reels should be.

social media video length cover photo

Is there actually an optimal length for influencer videos on TikTok and Instagram?

This is something we’ve been getting asked a lot lately.

And we’d like to offer brands a more concrete answer than “It depends!”

The problem? While there’s plenty of advice floating around, there’s little definitive data. 

Not to mention most advice on social media video length is anecdotal! What’s “optimal” for a massive beauty creator on TikTok won’t be the same for a parenting micro-influencer on IG.

Still, we wanted an objective answer to “How long should a social media video be?”  

That’s why we wrote this post to offer recommendations for brands based on:

  • Recent third-party research and industry data 
  • Best practices from TikTok and Instagram themselves
  • Our firsthand observations based on powering thousands of influencer collabs

Let’s dive in!

TLDR? Summary and Recommendations 👩‍🏫

  • TikTok videos featuring influencers are ideally >15 seconds if you plan to run them as ads. However, based on recent data, there’s a correlation between long-form videos (50-60+ seconds) and account growth.
  • Instagram (and Meta) recommend >15-second videos for branded content and ads on Reels. Given that videos via Instagram Reels and Stories have tighter limits than TikTok by default, all signs point to short-form videos being optimal for reach and engagement.
  • Brands should put one-size-fits-all advice on social media video length into context before including recommendations in an influencer brief.
  • Factors such as your target audience, industry and type of influencer content will ultimately determine the best video length for your creators. Some audiences prefer in-depth tutorials to exclusively short-form videos.
  • Don’t box influencers in with restrictive directions that limit their creativity. Experimenting with a high volume of influencers and various content formats is the fastest way to learn what’s optimal for your brand.

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Short-Form vs. Long-Form Videos: What's Best for Influencers?

How Long Should TikTok Videos Be for Influencers?

How Long Should Instagram Reels Be for Influencers?

Short-Form vs. Long-Form: What is the Best Video Length for Social Media Influencers?

Both TikToks and Reels lend themselves to bite-sized videos, right?

Not necessarily! 

These formats aren’t exclusively short-form anymore. In fact, as of April 2024:

  • TikToks can be up to 10 minutes long. There is a 3-minute length limit on videos filmed within the app while native uploads can take up the full 10 minutes.
  • Instagram Reels can be up to 90 seconds long (per Reel). However, any video uploaded to Instagram shorter than 15 minutes is classified as a Reel.

The blanket advice that 7 to 15 seconds is the “best” video length should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s a safe recommendation but not based on hard data.

Heck, just scroll through any creators’ feeds for a few seconds. Chances are you’ll see a variety of video lengths earning varying levels of engagement and reach. If you talk to five creators, you’ll get five different answers as to what’s “best.”

For example, there’s been fierce debate among creators recently on the performance of long-form content versus short-form videos on TikTok. 

short-form vs. long-form content debate on tiktok


Here’s the truth, though: video length isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair for influencers. 

That’s why brands and creators should experiment with different social media video lengths and formats instead of assuming or second-guessing. Your social analytics can likewise clue you in on answers to find the best video length for your brand.

Now, let’s dig deeper into our breakdown of optimal TikTok and Instagram Reels lengths!

How Long Should TikTok Videos Be for Influencers?

Finding a correlation between TikTok length and engagement is tricky.

Especially since we’ve seen plenty of examples of TikTok influencers with varying video lengths that are successful. This video run as a Spark Ad by Nuuly earned millions of views and strong organic engagement despite being only six seconds long.

short-form tiktok example


Then again, there are storytime-style videos and long-form reviews that go viral all the time. For reference, this organic video promoting Saltair earned over 6.4 million views despite being nearly three minutes long. That’s the power of user-generated content!

As highlighted in our breakdown of TikTok Spark Ad examples, “less is more” is a good mantra to stick to for the sake of holding viewers’ attention. However, longer influencer videos mean more opportunities to make an impression on viewers. Longer videos likewise result in higher watch times which the TikTok algorithm sees as a positive signal for engagement.

Instagram Influencer Campaign Manager Spreadsheet

Is There a Best TikTok Video Length? What the Data Says

  • This 2023 analysis by SocialInsider cites a decrease in TikTok video engagement after 15 seconds (see the chart below).

  • Another 2023 study conducted by Metricool (and published by Statista) found a correlation between higher TikTok views and longer video lengths. Videos with 25,000+ views were ~50 seconds on average compared to videos with only
    500 views or less were ~34 seconds long on average.

  • An independent 2024 analysis of 2.83 million videos cites an optimal video length between 18 and 31 seconds for “entertaining” TikTok videos and a length between 42 and 54 seconds for “educational” content. However, there’s no confirmed methodology for the study or findings beyond this post

optimal tiktok video length data


What is the Ideal TikTok Length According to the App?

TikTok goes back and forth in its video length recommendations between ads and organic content. Let’s look at what we know and apply it to influencer videos:

  • In their recommendations for creating TikTok ads, the app says directly to  use short-form content: We suggest short videos of 9-15s.”

  • In 2022, WIRED claims that TikTok shared internal platform data with creators citing a recommended video length between 21 and 34 seconds. The app elaborated that 1-in-4 of TikTok’s top-performing videos fell within that range. It’s important to note that this length was double the platform’s short-form video length recommendations from a year prior.

  • The same WIRED report notes that 50% of TikTok users find 1+ minute videos “stressful” while one-third of users watch content at double speed. However, note that this report is based on data from 2021. We imagine that users are more comfortable with long-form content given how often 1+ minute videos go viral.

  • In late 2023, some creators began seeing this prompt from TikTok recommending 1+ minute-long videos (see below). TikTok coupled this with a statement that creators who post 1+ minute videos grow their accounts five times faster than creators who only post short videos.”

tiktok prompt for longer videos

Considerations and Takeaways for TikTok Video Length

TikTok has sent mostly mixed signals in terms of ideal video length. However, we can read between the lines of these recommendations and research to offer some actionable takeaways for brands and how long their influencers’ videos should be:

  • Creative hooks matter more than video length. Whether your TikTok is five seconds or five minutes, your first few frames are make-or-break. TikTok claims that the first two seconds of a video ad determine its business impact. This aligns with the fact that the TikTok algorithm takes factors such as watch time into account when serving videos.

  • Influencer videos promoted as TikTok Spark Ads should be on the shorter side (less than 15 seconds, ideally less than 10 seconds). Piggybacking on the point above, you’ll see a stark drop-off in viewer count each second an ad continues. Many Spark Ads are likewise > 15 seconds long (see the graph below).

  • Format and audience are key factors for determining your TikTok video length. Again, there are opportunities to promote products on TikTok with formats ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes long. All of which have the potential to earn strong engagement and reach.

tiktok video length engagement drop-off


How Long Should Instagram Reels Be for Influencers?

While Reels started as a competitor to TikTok’s short-form format, all Instagram videos (including in-feed posts) that are >15 minutes fall under the Reels umbrella. 

And this really muddies the waters of how long Reels should be.

Like TikTok, influencer videos on Reels are all over the place length-wise in terms of engagement and view count. So, what should brands recommend to influencers?

Is There a Best Instagram Reels Length? What the Data Says

There’s limited third-party data and research on what’s considered the best length for organic videos on Instagram.

We do know how important engagement is for Reels and the general Instagram algorithm.

The quicker a viewer gets through a video, the faster (and more likely they are) to drop a comment. By default, short-form content will typically yield better completion rates and higher engagement rates as a result.

That’s why the oft-cited advice that “Reels should be 7 to 15 seconds long” is safe. 

However, it’s unclear whether this recommended length is actually “optimal.”

What is the Ideal Instagram Reels Length According to Meta?

While third-party research on the topic of video length is limited, we do have some clues based on “official” recommendations and statements:

meta intagram reels video length recommendation


Considerations and Takeaways for Instagram Reels Length

Instagram’s advice for brands is a simple but straightforward starting point for video length. Again, we have to read between the lines of what’s recommended and what actually sees a strong engagement rate. 

  • Since the time limit for Reels is considerably lower than TikTok, conventional wisdom says that shorter, bite-sized content is safer for Reels versus long-form videos.
  • Also, note that the length limit for Instagram Stories is only 60 seconds. Given that Stories is arguably the platform’s most popular and engaging feature, Reels should be kept to less than under a minute for maximum sharability.
  • When in doubt, all-purpose, promotional videos focusing on products can be >15 seconds.

How to Determine Your Influencers’ Social Media Video Length with Confidence

If you’re searching for the ideal video length for your influencers’s videos, your head is in the right place. Maximizing the reach of your influencer marketing is the goal, right?

Hopefully, our breakdown of the best social video lengths sheds some light on the issue!

That said, keep these points in mind before making recommendations to creators:

  • Different content formats demand different durations. If you’re launching a new product, you may need longer how-to videos to educate audiences versus snappy short-form videos.

  • Influencers typically know best when it comes to social video lengths. After all, they’re on the front lines of the latest trends and formats that earn engagement. Creators are incentivized to create content in a way that earns maximum reach by default. This is especially true for growing micro-influencers.

This speaks to the value of running a high volume of influencer collabs with a variety of content. 100s of creators provide plenty of opportunities to experiment and likewise, offer a meaningful sample size to figure out the best video length for your brand.

And if you’re looking to run collabs like this at scale, Statusphere’s software can help.

Our micro-influencer platform matches brands with vetted influencers based on 250+ first-party data points. We help brands run always-on influencer marketing campaigns at scale through automated fulfillment, product seeding and creator management.

Statusphere Platform Dashboard

We’ve already generated 75,000+ pieces of UGC on behalf of 400+ CPG brands.

Want to learn more about how our platform works? Get in touch with one of our experts to see how we can scale your influencer video strategy in a fraction of the time.

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