Size Matters in Social Media: A Breakdown of Optimal Length

20-social-media-iconsHave you ever wondered what the optimal length of your various social media platform posts and headlines should be? Social media has been around for a long time now. As with anything that has some history, you can find data! Here’s a rundown of the suggested optimal content and headline lengths for the most popular sites.

Facebook – Blitzmetrics looked at 120 billion impressions and analyzed the impact of posts on Facebook. Here’s what they found: the shorter the better. In fact, keeping posts close to 40 characters provided the highest comment rate, like rate, and total engagement. If you’re a real data hound, you can find their VERY comprehensive study here.

Of course, it’s tough to whittle everything down to 40 characters. There’s an inverse relationship with the number of characters and engagement — the more characters, the less engagement. It’s always a good idea to share a link or picture when posting. This is probably the greatest factor that keeps engagement up with such few characters.

Twitter – Research shows that 70 to 100 characters is optimal for Tweets. If your tweets get too long, you don’t leave room for others to add their take in your tweets when retweeting. This data came from Track Social after they studied 100 major brands. If you’re a real social media junkie, you can always analyze this for your own tweets. I wouldn’t suggest doing that though, it can get a little involved. Just take the researchers’ word that 70-100 characters will result in more retweets and replies, which leads to more engagement.

Hashtags (#) – What? There’s an optimal length of a hashtag? According to Hashtag.org (it really exists), a six character hashtag will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Buzzoid – Want to get a kickstart on your social media profile? Consider Buzzoid’s Instagram growth services to gain thousands of followers overnight.

Blog Headlines – I struggle with this one all the time. According to the experts, readers will scan the first three and last three words of a headline. Another study showed that only the first 11 characters of your headline are processed. There is some interesting information included in the Nielsen Norman Group study that discusses the optimal headline but also dives into how readers read and process characters on the written page. Keeping it simple, they suggest a six word headline, tops!

YouTube – No surprise here; I think most of us are familiar with the optimal length of a YouTube video. Research backs up the three-minute clip as optimal. Reelso.com analyzed the top videos on YouTube and found the average length to be two minutes and fifty-four seconds. Google has come out to verify that their own researchers have backed the data.

LinkedIn – Many times we forget about LinkedIn in the social media spectrum. While it’s a great B2B platform, it can help us get our message out to consumers as well. According to a Compendium study, the optimal LinkedIn post is in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 words. With LI, typically you’re looking for click-throughs to your blog post or other platform. So once again, less is more when posting content.

Email – Whether you’re sending out your latest newsletter or contacting an individual, email has a lot of competition. How often do you scan your email subject lines, determining within seconds whether you’re going to click on it or not? After studying 1.2 billion emails, Mailer Mailer determined the optimal length for your subject line is 28 to 39 characters. In their Email Marketing Metrics Report, they eluded to the fact that you’ll get higher clicks within the optimal character length.

Google+ – We can’t forget G+, yeah, it’s still there. There hasn’t been any specific research on headlines for Google+ posts. The general thought is to keep your headline at 60 characters or less so that the headline remains on one line. After 60, it’s bumped to a two-line headline and doesn’t get as much attention or it could lose some of the headline depending on how you share the link.

This post focuses exclusively on optimal length. By no means should you consider this as the most important aspect of your social media considerations. However, it will help you get more engagement, clicks, likes, views and all the other things were looking for when sharing our content.

Author: Jim Devitt

Jim Devitt’s debut YA novel, The Card, hit #1 in three separate categories on the Kindle Bestseller list in early January and was a finalist in the Guys Can Read Indie Author Contest this past summer. Devitt currently lives in Miami, FL with his wife Melissa and their children. Learn more about Jim at his blog and his Amazon author page.

5 thoughts on “Size Matters in Social Media: A Breakdown of Optimal Length”

  1. Thank you Jiim – we all use social media but don’t often talk about how to be effective. Sometimes it’s the details that count. You gave us lots of good info to use. Sounds like less can be better – like with flash fiction 😀 which isn’t easy to do. You just made my life easier, at least now there’s a target.

  2. Good stuff to know. Though with the new RT format on Twitter, you can leave a 140-character comment on any RT, so that’s not as much of a problem as it used to be.

    Another note: I’ve noticed lots of people leaving longer posts on Facebook with NO PARAGRAPHS. I might read a longer post if it interests me AND has paragraphs; I definitely won’t if it’s long with none.

    Thanks for the tips!

  3. Shorter blog posts also tend to work better than the ones where you have to scroll down for miles. I guess all of this is part of our shortening attention span.

  4. That’s really useful, Jim. Thanks for the info. Don’t know that I’ll be able to hit these targets every time, but at least I know what the targets are now.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: