How Long Should Your Social Media Posts Be?
There's been a lot of research recently into the most effective number of words, paragraphs, and characters for your social media content marketing. The end goal, of course, is to increase engagement on your site. Many people only scan your articles and posts while they're on the run, so a good social media strategy is getting your point across quickly. The idea is to get the message to your visitor without being too long or too short.
The question is how do we know what the best size for our content marketing efforts? Fortunately, there's research on this point I'd like to share with you. The first is from BufferSocial and Kevan Lee. It's a very good summary of the optimum lengths for your social media content. I have always been told 110 characters is the sweet spot for tweets. This infographic says 71-100. I guess attention spans on Twitter are getting shorter too 😉
Fast Company republished a post by Buffer's Kevan Lee earlier this year called “The Proven Ideal Length Of Every Tweet, Facebook Post, And Headline Online“. This article goes deeper into the science of how much to write. Marketing, and especially social media marketing, relies on data to determine what works best. And now, with big data on our side, trial and error is minimized. We know what's working and we know it fast.
For example, let's look at TED Talks. During the early days of TED the time allowed for presentations varied a lot. Now TED Talks are limited to 18 minutes or less. Why? Here's one idea:
It [18 minutes] is the length of a coffee break. So, you watch a great talk, and forward the link to two or three people. It can go viral, very easily. The 18-minute length also works much like the way Twitter forces people to be disciplined in what they write. By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say. … It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline. – Chris Anderson | Curator of TED
This idea makes sense to me. I think it also helps the audience because attention spans have shortened in the last 10 – 20 years. For proof, you only have to look at all the couch surfers out there. It's a commercial… change the channel! And I've yet to see a twenty-something stick around for the ending of a song. I'm no better though. I almost always skip to the end of a book to see what happened.
All of this information is good as far as it goes. Look at it like a rule of thumb. While social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ and others need short, snappy updates, what really matters is what they link to and how your audience wants to receive information.
The thing is not how long or how short your post/article is. Some will be shorter and some need to be longer based on the topic and how deep into it you plan to write. Try to vary the length of your content. Track it to see what works best. Then adapt to the results. Your audience will thank you.
Resources for this article:
Infographic: The optimal length for social media updates and more by Kevan Lee
The Proven Ideal Length Of Every Tweet, Facebook Post, And Headline Online by Kevan Lee via Fast Company
Infographic courtesy http://blog.bufferapp.com