If you’re a content marketer, there’s a darn good chance you want more eyeballs on your content. Of course, length of your content is not the only factor that persuades a reader to click, rather there are certain other best practices need to be followed to get more engagement from the target audience.
The blog from Buffer app dug around to unravel the ideal lengths of content on various platforms including blogs, twitter, facebook, Google+, etc. Backed by research, following are the findings:
The ideal length of a tweet is 100 characters
The ideal length of a Facebook post is less than 40 characters
The ideal length of a Google+ headline is less than 60 characters
The ideal length of a blog post is 7 minutes, 1,600 words
We feel most of the readers almost 90% of them are ‘lurkers’ who do not publicly participate but only read and build their opinions based on social comments. We’ve curated these comments that not only add value but also provide insights to the community.
Matt Ragland says, “Love this research, very helpful Kevan! Here’s a sketch note infographic I put together after reading, thanks again!”
Tara Hunt reacts, “I really despise posts like these. Engagement has little to nothing to do with length. Jonah Berger proved that in his study in 2010 (where longer articles got more play on NYTimes, but it had little to do with the length, it was actually the content! I hear from brands who read these posts that we need to keep our wordiness down, yet some of the most popular bloggers, vloggers and tweeters ramble on forever. Hell, some of the most watched YouTubers have videos that go on forever and ever. It’s the content, not the word count. Not the length. Please focus on the right metrics.”
Amelia Anderson feels, “The best bloggers, speakers, writers, etc. have earned our trust — we’re willing to stick with them through longer content because we expect it’ll be worth it. If we take this article at its spirit, however, instead of so literally, I think it’s wise to advocate for brevity, to challenge communicators to critically view their work and remove what’s extraneous, and to consider the speed at which our audiences are reviewing content.”
JasonFalls states, “This is not research. This is statistics. They mean nothing. To prove my point, here is my ideal, optimized, 100-character tweet: “Purple dinosaurs eat green carrots off your face if you let them. Nancy Pelosi is 25 percent poodle.”
Without meaning or context the number of characters you use is 100% senseless. I would have hoped Buffer would have seen these types of crack science posts from a few years back and realized this does nothing but lead people down the wrong path for doing content well.”
Replying to JasonFalls, Courtney Seiter says, “Hi Jason, great to see you stopping by these parts! You’re right; what you tweet is always going to be more important than the number of characters you use to do it – and we try to write about quality content as much as possible, too. That said, the medium matters as well as the message. I think there’s value in knowing (whether through psychology, biology or other types of studies we mention here) what has been successful for others in terms of format. Marrying great content with these best practices is a win-win, no? I always appreciate your point of view; definitely would love to hear more of your thoughts on this!”
According to Ben @ AdviceMedia, “Many years ago, when I was editor of a magazine aimed at CxO level staff, we did some pretty comprehensive research into the ideal length of content ranging from news to features through to interviews and how to guides.
We found that if you failed to get the point across in under 3 minutes, your content would be put on to the “I’ll look at it later (read: never)” pile. The result was a focus on high-quality, highly-focused content. Very few features were above 600 words. Those that were longer were broken down into easily skimable and digestable bullet points.
Let’s get one thing straight. Length≠quality. Granted, different markets have different sweet spots. But if you’re running a business that markets to decision makers in other businesses, chances are you’ll have a lot less than 7 minutes to convince them. And as for consumers? Often, you have a damn sight less time than that. That’s based on over a decade of experience in writing for both markets both commercially and as a journalist.
By all means, produce long form content. Once someone is engaged, it makes perfect sense to produce content that answers their questions. However, blog posts are not necessarily the best content to convince and convert. In fact, personally, I’d argue they are the worst way to convince and convert. They should be your lead/prospect attraction and capture content.
At the end of the day, the ideal length is the absolute minimum it takes to get your point and value message across. Anything more is waffle. As French write Antoine de Saint-Exupery said: “Perfection is Achieved Not When There Is Nothing More to Add, But When There Is Nothing Left to Take Away“.
Eric N. points out,” The only thing I didn’t see mentioned, and this is a big one, is video length. I’m presuming 7 minutes is the ideal length of a video, but I’d love to see some research on this.”
Brett Janes finds, “This is interesting, but it could do with analysing what type of engagement the different lengths are getting. Facebook posts that short make me think of status updates such as ‘omg, so annoyed, grr.’ and all the responses are things like ‘u ok hun?’
I realise that looking at the type of responses would be a massive amount of work, but it would be good to know which are positive and/or useful within these stats.”
Gary S. Hart opinions, “We love you for compiling this research and your insights. You led us to question audience demographics such as, how does the same person respond as a consumer vs. executive? How does age or gender factor? What about time of day? For instance, do people respond better to longer or shorter lengths early in the day or later in the day? How does topic factor in, i.e., fashion vs. marketing automation? Another side to this is word selection.
We’re not asking you to do the work although we wouldn’t stop you <smile> and I am not diminishing your work, it would just be interesting to see those metrics.”
Philip DiPatrizio deciphers interestingly important point, “”Forty and 55 characters per line means about 8 to 11 words. If you’re viewing the Buffer blog in a desktop browser, you’re likely seeing up to 20 characters per line. Whoops!”
It should say “likely seeing up to 20 words per line.” :)”
Matt Jackson says, “Oh, how I love data and statistics. Clearly, the figures aren’t meant to be followed as set rules, but there’s still some good takeaways here – at the very least, it may encourage people to step away from their rigid 500 word post formats.
By the way, this post is closer to 2,600 words, rather than 1,600 words, surely.”
The subject matter, approach and tone make the length not as important as the expansion. What is under the hood with carefully selected links to expand on the subject and keep the rock skipping along the information highway surface. The images, video embeds all help round out the approach using other senses too. Not just the font type doing all the heavy lifting, the formatting helping the medicine go down smoothly, easily. Blog, blog post. Make it air and water, love and family a knee jerk reflex, second nature.
David Interesting stats. Just a couple of quick pointers:
The 7 minutes = 1,600 words is historical and based on printed material which shows that an adult reads at approx. 250+ wpm. Research into computer-based reading has shown that the read rate on a laptop screen placed 50cm away is 10%-30% slower. So, around 175 wpm. This makes the the ‘ideal’ 7-minute blog closer to 1,200 words.
There is also no mention here of the Flesch-Kincaid readability scale. It is clear that the choice of vocabulary and sentence structure is going to have an impact on the drop-off rate.
Pixelsnader adds,” When looking at such graphs, keep in mind to ask whether the data is actually useful. You mention this for the mail open/click rates but it applies to several other graphs.
The 7 minute per article graph shows a pretty clear trend with a peak, but the SerpIQ one doesn’t really have an upper limit to the amount of words as it’s mostly a triangular graph; what happens with 3000+ or 4000+ characters?
But the least useful is the one with 8 characters for a domain name. There’s a huge variance across the graph, and only a single average. It would have been much more useful to see the average length for the first 10, second 10, etc and see if there’s a correlation. Or inversely, check the average rank of >5, 5~10, 10~15 and 15~20 character domain names.
As some extra information; the general ideal line length of text on a screen is between 50 and 75 characters. However, going over that (to, say, 100 characters) will give slightly better reading speed at the cost of feeling less comfortable to readers, but making very short lines (25 characters) will hurt both legibility and comfort.