What is the Ideal Length of a Social Post? What Makes It Work?

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By Hector Cisneros

Self-proclaimed expert bloggers and social media pundits all talk about the ideal length of a post. Whether it’s a blog or a tweet, on Facebook or another social net, every so-called expert has an opinion on what the ideal length of a social post should be. Well, I am here to tell you that most of these pundits are full of themselves. The reality is that the internet is an evolving medium. People’s tastes, tolerance, timing, and needs are evolving as the world itself evolves. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will explore the ideal ranges of social posts, including blogs, videos, podcasts and of course social media post. So, grab your pencil and get ready to take notes as I share the secret code of ideal social posts.

First, let’s define what a social post is. In its broadest sense, social media encompasses many of the aspects that the Internet offers us as users. In my opinion, it includes any mechanism that allows for social interaction. This includes content that provides for engagement via comments, sharing, reposting and or ratings (as with “Liking, Plusing, and Star Rating”). With this as my criteria, social posting includes blogging, video posting, podcasting, product/service ratings and of course social network posting. This is a big arena, and the importance to business is significant.

The Importance of Getting it Right

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Today social commenting, engagement and sharing have a tremendous influence on the value of a brand and its products or services. Positive comments raise your value and help make the sale while negative comments kill the chances of making a sale. This makes it imperative to produce positive comments, sharing, and ratings. So, the big question is how do we garner shared positive comments. The simple answer is; provide “Quality.” The complex answer is; provide “Quality.” Let me explain. A high-quality post is made up of many elements. In other articles, I have discussed the importance of a post being relevant, timely, useful, entertaining, etc. Well, these elements aren’t so easily defined. This is because one person's trash is another person's treasure. Also, audiences are segmented into many categories. This includes friends, industries, science, music, celebrities, sports, hobbies, political arenas and hundreds of other segments.

So, what works in all of these arenas? Well, that’s what the rest of the article will delve into. These are the secrets to the ideal form of a social post. Let’s start with the pre-requisites. No amount of trickery, compelling words, incredible offers, or other word magic will make up for untimely, poor quality, inaccurate, irrelevant, useless or boring prose. Your content has to make a compelling argument for the fish who are nibbling on your bait. The same is true for a video or podcast. No cool intro can make up for weak content or poor production value. It all starts with a juicy headline.

The Magic of The Headline.
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The headline is extremely important It has to grab attention without deceiving the reader. It has to draw the reader in without them realizing this is happening. It has to be interesting without giving away the whole story. It has to prod the reader into asking a question and then seek the answer by reading your post. A good headline will grab a reader’s attention; a great headline will compel them to dig further. Obviously, headlines will come in a wide variety of lengths, but generally, most are short. Between 60 and 100 characters, give or take a few (this is more of an art than a science). The notes page and our drop box will have lots of articles that talk about this element.
To Key Word or Not, that is the Question
If your writing content for a blog, it can be keyword rich. However, never sacrifice the quality of the prose by keyword stuffing your article. Concentrate on writing a great article and the let the headline do the work. It should contain the keyword or phrase that people are searching for when looking for your article. The ideal headline will be short, compelling, eye grabbing and keyword rich.
How Long is Too Long?
The reason for this, in my opinion, is simple. Too short and the reader doesn’t receive enough information, too long and the reader must work harder to decide if they want to proceed. The Goldilocks principle seems to be at work when it comes to headlines. But make no mistake, great headlines need powerful words, timely words, even compelling words, and this means different things to different people. This is where testing and measuring is important to making your words count.
The Wording Matters
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In my book, 60 Seconds to Success, I included a section in chapter 3 called the 12 most persuasive words in the English language. The internet is littered with articles that discuss words that are said to be compelling. The notes page and drop box will have many of these listed. The one I believe is a standout and should be read by anyone in marketing is by CopyBlogger called; “9 Proven Headline Formulas That Sell Like Crazy”. These nine formulas can help any would-be writer produce better headlines.
Now there are many types of social posts, and each platform has its own rules and criteria for post length. For instance, Twitter allows 140 characters, LinkedIn allows you to enter 689 characters, and Facebook allows 2000. There are literally hundreds of social networks, and each has its own posting criteria. The general rule from above still holds true if you believe the research that has been conducted by many of the biggest content marketing companies operating today. The reason I say “if you believe them” is, that I believe you need to do your own research and verify what you read. Because what is good for them is not always good for you.  
Things Have Changed
When I was learning to blog and write articles ten years ago, things were different. I was told that the ideal length of a blog post was 400 words. What my research has shown me today, is that the ideal length of a blog post is around 1600 words! Quite a big difference! Now, social posts and curated posts are very different things than blogs or article posts (unless you are curating a headline for an article or blog). Social media posts, in my opinion, should be relatively short, no more than 140 characters (the Twitter limit). This will allow you to use the same headline on multiple platforms. This is another thing that people have told me you can’t do. However, my research has shown that there is little difference in my results as I customize my post for each social platform. Like I said earlier, I try to keep the headline short (around 100 characters), but I will use as many characters as needed to make sure the headline is clear.
Based on My Research

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Based on my research, and the research of companies I trust, I believe that a blog /article post should be no shorter than 800 words and no longer than 2500 words. Anything longer than this should be listed as a white paper. What I have found is that longer blogs provide the space to include more useful, relevant, entertaining and timely content. It’s very hard to put a lot of useful information in 400 words (a mere three paragraphs). The reader wants the beef, not just the sauce. A juicy headline and some tasty scraps leave the reader hungry for more. They need their questions answered otherwise they will leave feeling unfulfilled.

Social media posts, on the other hand, are shorter because you are mainly writing headlines. Yes, you can write a 400-word post on Facebook and some other social sites, but why do that when your headline can send them to your blog, video or podcast? Your blog is a media rich platform that can easily fulfill the wants and needs of a content hungry audience.  Headlines and comments that are posted with videos, podcasts, and music are usually short as well. The post follows the same guidelines as the headline. If there is room for a description, keep the post to less than three sentences.  

Videos and Pod Cast are Different

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If you want people to view your videos, make sure they are relatively short (unless it is an educational or a music video). The rule we use at our office is two to three minutes max in length. If you plan on using them on Instagram for Facebook ads, they need to be 60 seconds or less for max results. Podcast, on the other hand, have a wider range because they are more diverse. If your podcast is a radio show, it will be the length of the show. Our show is normally 30 minutes long. When we create Interviews for videos they are short (90 seconds) but pod cast interviews are usually around 15 minutes long, and music is whatever the length of the music/song is. Educational videos and podcast can be longer because you have a more interested audience. However, this also means the production value needs to be fairly high if you want them to sit through a 30-minute program.

Website Copy is a Little Different

Copy on websites also follows these rules. Headlines need to be short and compelling, but also keyword rich. The content that follows also needs to include the keywords and the content needs to be focused around the keyword subject. Each page of your website needs to have a single, central theme. This enhances the chance that a reader will stay longer (reducing the bounce rate) and increase the chances for conversion as well. Focused web pages also rank much better than diverse web pages.

Sharing is More than Caring

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I believe that it is important to share your post with as many individuals as possible. It’s also important to ask them to share your post as well (the exception is Facebook, where they don’t like this). Cross-pollinate your posts as much as possible. Make sure all of your social sites are backlinked to each other. Make sure all your social sites have active links to share your posts. Blogger and a few other platforms make this easy, as it is built right into the system. We have a marketing system that allows us to share our client's post with our 100k followers.  This “Team Tech” sharing allows our clients to build a following faster and it also allows them to garner more likes and positive feedback than if they were trying to do this on their own.

What's the Best Time and Day?

How do you know what the best day of the week is for posting? What about the best time of day.? There are many studies that profess to show the best times and days to post. But how do you know who to believe? The reality is this. If you go to our notes page or drop box and read the multitude of articles listed there, you will get a general picture of the best times and days, but you will also notice that the research has mixed results. Again, this is not a hard science. Content quality, headline quality and audience metrics have a big influence on the end result. These are diverse elements that are not easily measured. To skew matters, even more, some of these platforms have a mix of pay per click running. This can drive traffic directly away or to you, which will also make it hard to know if it’s the content or the advertising that is working.

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In this article, I have mentioned the importance of testing and measuring your headlines, social posts, and blog posts. This is the only scientific way to evaluate and improve your results. How would you know if the techniques you are using are performing better than what you use to use before? How will you know if the time of day and the day of the week is best without testing and measuring the “same content at different days and times”?  How will you know if that great headline is really great if you’re not actively A/B testing, or at least looking at the analytics of your particular platform to see if your content is producing a higher spike than all your other posts? The answer is you won’t know! Implementing new techniques and posting without testing are just flying blind. It’s a great way to flush money down the drain.  I am willing to bet that 100% of the people reading this article don’t want to waste their hard-earned social media marketing money. The bottom line is this. The perfect headline for your post is what your testing shows it is! The ideal length of a post is what you're testing and measuring say it is. The ideal day and time are what your analytics say it is. All the pundits and all the king’s men can’t tell you how to put your post together again. There are general guidelines you can follow, but experimentation, testing and measuring your results will teach you this useful art. The art of creating your own ideal headline, blog or social post. It's time to start writing and use what the results teach you.

That’s my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

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This article delves into what makes an ideal social post, whether the post is meant for social media, a blog, video or a podcast. It covers the importance of a great headline, post length and posts scheduling, along with an explanation of what is and is not important to these posting elements. The article provides links to other resources, articles, and guides as well.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091 or fill out the form in the sidebar of this blog, we will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family, and co-workers. You can find other articles on our blog by typing in “marketing, advertising, branding or audience” in the search box at the top of this blog. Also, check out the “Blog Talk Radio, Internet, podcast, that goes with this article ” and the Show Note Page, it has, even more, links for you to check out.  If you have a useful comment or opinion related to this article, leave it in the comment section of this blog.  Also, don’t forget to plus us, on Google+.



Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”  

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