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The Best Length for Everything on the Internet

You have all your social media accounts set up... now what? How do you know what — and how long — to write to make the best of your time and effort? Look no further: we have all the info you need right here.

Social media accounts

Twitter

Twitter is known for its brevity. You can’t write more than 140 characters — the length of an old-school text message. But is 140 characters the best amount?

Research shows that 100 characters or less is best, if you’re going to just tweet something without a link. If you add a link, try to keep it to 120–130 characters. And don’t forget to use a link shortener, like bit.ly, to save space!

In addition to these, remember that tweets with images get twice as much engagement as tweets without images. And since images don’t count for character length, there’s no reason to not add one!

Hashtags also increase tweet engagement by a factor of two. Remember to use only relevant hashtags, to only use up to six hashtags per tweet, and to introduce them naturally in your tweet if possible.

Facebook

Even though Facebook allows much longer updates than Twitter, Facebook engagement studies actually show that even shorter content (40 characters or so) is the best strategy.

If that’s not enough, keep it under 80 characters if at all possible; Facebook posts with 80 characters or less got 66% higher engagement rates than posts 81 characters and above.

Facebook engagement also increases if you provide a link, an image, a GIF or a video. Just let your content speak for itself, and say only a few words about it in the update itself.

Google+

Don’t underestimate the power of Google+. Even though it’s more of a niche social network, users show a high level of engagement. Google+ also plays an important role in your SEO ranking, which should come as no big surprise.

A Google+ headline should be 60 characters for the best engagement rates. Sixty characters is where the headline gets bumped to a second line; you want to keep it all in one line if at all possible. (Remember: the headline is the first line that appears in your update when you share a piece of content. You can modify it.)

But the headline isn’t everything: the first (and only) paragraph of content you should write on a Google+ update should be snappy, useful, and attractive. Engagement rates vary; you can write something short (4 characters) or long (440 characters), and people will probably read it anyway.

Google+ lets you use formatting options like bold, italics and bullets — use this to your advantage to highlight the best of your content.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has two options: updates, and articles. We’ll talk about updates first.

Keep your short LinkedIn updates at 25 words or so. 16–25 is best for B2B, and 21–25 is best for B2C. Same thing for sharing content you find elsewhere. This report has all the information you need about LinkedIn.

For long-form articles (get to know the platform if you haven’t already!), the longer the better. Ragan.com found out that posts over 3000 words have the best sharing numbers. Industry insights are more popular than company news.

Pinterest

If you are in the B2C industry, you absolutely cannot ignore Pinterest. Pinterest drives enormous amounts of traffic through beautiful images. But even B2B providers can benefit from Pinterest, especially in the form of tall infographics (taller image heights have higher repin rates).

When writing descriptions for your pins, keep it to between 100 and 200 characters. This Hubspot article also contains interesting information for the copy in your pin descriptions: create emotional attachment with words like “home”, “love”, and “idea”. If you want maximum repin action, try putting up some recipes or DIY information.

Instagram

Another B2C goldmine is Instagram. Post beautiful pictures of your business and your products, and see the number of fans grow — and visits to your website soar.

As with Pinterest, the best description length is between 100 and 200 characters (including hashtags in the case of Instagram).

Hashtags are the secret to doing well on Instagram. The number of likes sharply increases when you use them. The best hashtags to use include things like #sky, #followback, #instalike, and #summer.

YouTube

Are you making YouTube videos yet? Well, if not, you should get started. Videos have a really high level of engagement, especially with millennials. On average, they spend twice as much time looking at YouTube videos than they do watching television.

But remember: keep it short. The best length for a YouTube video is approximately 3 minutes. Attention spans are short, so make it snappy and memorable right away.

If you have more to say than you can fit in a 3-minute video, try cutting it down in smaller pieces.

TED Talk

You’ve been accepted or invited to give a TED Talk? Congratulations! Now, you know it has to be short — but how short?

Some TED Talks are 5 to 6 minutes, but the ideal TED Talk length is 18 minutes. Carmine Gallo explains why in a helpful LinkedIn post (hint, hint: get inspiration for your own LinkedIn long-form posts!).

Slideshare

If you’re in the B2B area, Slideshare is a must for your marketing efforts.

The information about Slideshare length is a bit all over the place, but an average slideshare is 14 slides long. However, you can go up to about 65 slides for a 6-minute presentation if the content is worth it.


Your website

Domain name

Your domain name should be easy to remember, easy to type, and not prone to spelling errors. Ideally, it should be eight characters in length, but these days it’s a little hard to manage.

According to this great Moz post, the eight features of a good domain name include:

  • Brandability

  • Pronounceability

  • Length (the shortest is not always the best)

  • .com bias

  • Potential trademark infringement

  • Intuitiveness

  • Keyword inclusion

  • Possible modifications

Covering all of these is a blog post of its own, so go check the post I linked above for more information on each of these.

Blog post headline

The first and last three blog post headline words are the most important. If you only use six words, you pretty much have the perfect title!

There’s also the character component: to fit in Google, you’ll need your character number to stop at 60 — ideally 55. But never more than 60, otherwise your title will have an ellipsis on search engines.

Blog post length

Remember the old rule that a blog post should be 500 words?

Yeah, not so much anymore.

These days, longer posts are what’s working with search engines and social media. But you should never force length when it isn’t required; the best blog post is just as long as it needs to be.

Joe Bunting makes an interesting point on The Write Practice about blog post length: it depends on what you want. Do you want to stimulate discussion and have lots of comments? Keep it short, about 275 words. Do you want it shared on social media? 600 to 1250 words is the sweet spot. Do you want to be listed on search engines? In-depth, 2500+ word blog posts will do that.

So, think about what you want from your blog post, and craft something that suits your goal.

Paragraph width

Yes, there’s a science to page width. That’s why most books are about the same size: they have the ideal width for reading comfort.

On the internet though, since you can modify your content space at will, how do you know how wide your paragraphs should be? You want to make it look easier to read (shorter width) but not so short that it seems truncated.

According to Social Triggers, a first paragraph attracts more readers if it has a 45–55 character width. The rest of the post can have longer lines, as you now have the reader hooked!

Email subject line

When it comes to email subject lines, the data is all over the place, and nobody seems to really agree on specific best practices.  However, you can make some educated decisions by referring to this handy chart of character-length cutoffs for popular email clients.

There also seems to be a sweet spot of around 65 characters for subject lines, so aim for that whenever possible. But when it comes to email subject lines, the copy is ultimately much more important than the length — and keeping track of past subject line results will help you determine what works best for your particular audience.

Podcasts

It’s what all the cool kids do these days: basically on-demand radio shows. People can listen to podcasts during their daily commute, while they work out, or as they do chores around the house. It’s a great way to access the part of your audience who aren’t big readers, but ready to listen to you talk for hours.

There are several studies on this, but they seem to agree at around 18 to 22 minutes. This is long enough to go in-depth about a topic or with an interviewee, but not long enough to lose your listener’s attention.

That’s all we can think of about the length of everything on the Internet. Did we miss anything?

If you have a question about the length of something you want to post on your website or social media account, let us know — maybe we’ll even write an in-depth post about it so everyone can benefit!

In the meantime, take the time to read up the sources for this post: there’s a lot of very helpful information on other best practices for every type of interaction on the web and social media.

Kelso Kennedy

Kelso Kennedy

CoFounder @RedStampAgency - Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the year. He likes Business, Technology, Hockey and Life.

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