Size Matters!

A guide to finding the perfect length for your content

You’re fully cognizant of the distinction between a tweet and a status update. You blog religiously. You grasp the finer points of using LinkedIn for professional networking. But do you know exactly how long each of your social media contributions should be? AHA! I knew there was something left. The social media data-crunching gnomes that live deep within the internet’s tubes have finally released these precious numbers, allowing all who devote a portion of their business day to social media to optimize their content, length-wise. “At last!” you gasp, overcome with joy.

The information comes to us through an adorable infographic from SumAll and Buffer, who clearly have an in with the gnomes. It’s chock full of definitive answers to the great questions that keep you up at night, e.g. “How long should my blog be to keep readers on the edge of their seats?” and “Is a longer, more complex Facebook post more effective than a brief one?”

All joking aside, these questions do matter. Content creators work hard to put together interesting, useful bits of information to share with their audiences. As one myself, I’ve often wondered if I had included enough or too much detail for a particular piece. You want to give enough specifics to make a valuable contribution without losing the interest of the delightful people kind enough to actually read, view or listen to what you have to offer. From the infographic:

Show Some Character

  • By keeping your tweets below 100 characters you’ll earn more engagement.
  • On Facebook, making posts of 40 characters gets you more engagement than going longer – 86% more!
  • For email subject lines, you want to hit that sweet spot between 28-39 characters.
  • Hashtags are perfect at 6 characters with no spaces or special characters. Also, don’t use just numbers and if your hashtag includes them, don’t begin it with a number.
  • Titles of anything you’re posting online need to stay below 60 characters to avoid being clipped in internet searches.

Measure Your Words

  • LinkedIn posts have different ideal lengths based on whether you’re addressing individual consumers or businesses. To connect with businesses, shoot for 16-25 words.
  • If it takes longer than 6 minutes to read a blog post, it’s too long. Limit yourself to fewer than 1600 words. (In most cases, a blog post will get maximum attention if it’s less than half that length.)
  • For the title of that blog post, you’ll definitely want to keep it to 6 words or fewer. The gnomes claim that only the first 3 and last 3 words are read, so if you choose a longer title, think strategically about what goes where.

Contain Yourself

  • Presentations using slides are best kept to 6 minutes and roughly 61 slides. That lets you cover your topic with depth and thoroughness while finishing up before people doze off.
  • Attention spans are limited to 18 minutes, in general. That means your speech, no matter how eagerly anticipated, should remain within the 18-minute limit imposed on TED Talk presenters.
  • Podcast listeners may remain connected for an average of 22 minutes but their minds wander after only 15 or 20 minutes. Keep it shorter to increase attention, retention and willingness to come back for more.
  • Videos are popular, fun and great for SEO. They’re also best when they’re short – around 3 minutes is ideal. Average length of the top 50 videos on YouTube is 2:54.

And now we know. The numbers are in, so now we can all set about delivering meaningful content without exceeding the limits of attention for any particular item. Get crafting and report back, please. Do you accept these figures or have another view? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Follow Sarah:
Sarah Warlick is responsible for making us and all of our clients sound professional and eloquent as the content director at bbr marketing. In this role, Sarah is in charge of ensuring that all copy is well-written, accurate and free of pesky typos before it heads out the door. Additionally, she is a prolific writer and a frequent contributor to bbr marketing’s blog sites. She spends a good deal of time writing copy for our clients and has a unique way of crawling into our clients’ heads to create ghostwritten copy that sounds as if it came directly from their pen.
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  1. Maxine
    | Reply

    Absolutely Brilliant – Social Media (committed the RIGHT way!) is so very important in the realms of business these days. 100% agree. Thanks Sarah!

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