I think it was Marlon Brando who said, “never confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent”, which might not have been intended as encouragement but as disparagement, but I just love transforming in “never confuse the length of your blog post with the effectiveness of your marketing”. I know, it doesn’t sound as cool, and if you have a better version of it, do leave it down below, in the comments, BUT I think it’s something online marketers should remember when they sit down to write another article.
Some startups offering online marketing tool started circulating all sorts of numbers for the ideal length of a blog post and things got a bit out of hand.
At one point they started writing about the ‘5,000-word blog post’ as a pillar of a company’s content marketing strategy. Now, I’m not saying there aren’t 5,000-word articles out there ranking #1 on search engine result pages. I would be amazed if they weren’t given how ‘the skyscraper technique’ became so popular in the past years. BUT your products and services aren’t bought by the bots crawling your website. They’re bought by real people and real people don’t necessarily have the time or the wish to read 5,000-word articles.
That’s why I want to share with your what I think are the ideal lengths for the writing you’re using in your online marketing. We’ll go through both text and video content, but don’t worry, it will only cost you a few minutes of your time.
Q1: How long should my blog posts be?
A: It depends, but 1,200 words is a safe bet.
First, let’s start with a Skyscraper Technique 101, maybe you’re not familiar with what it is. Brian Dean, which we can simply call one of the most influential SEO gurus out there, used this name to describe a simple link building technique. So, how does it work? You simply search for the keyword you want to rank for, and you take a look at the first result. What you want to do next is to create an article that is better (which usually means longer) that that article. If the article you find is ’10 Tasks to Delegate to a Virtual Assistant’, you write one called ’15 Tasks to Delegate to a VA’. You build on top of that initial article, so yours is better. Then you try to get the people linking to the first one to link to yours, since yours is better, more complete, better written, etc. That is the Skyscraper Technique.
Content marketers started to use it, things snowballed, and now we have articles like ‘171 Marketing Ideas for Small Business’. 171?! Of course those articles are going to be ridiculously long, but that doesn’t mean people will actually read them.
2018 will bring many changes to content marketing. Why? Google is switching to mobile-first ranking. Who on Earth is going to want to read 5,000 words on their mobile screen? Or the 2,000-word articles that were so often praised as having the ‘perfect’ length for SEO in the past years?
So, what’s the correct answer? I’d say 1,200 words because it’s almost half-way through the distance between 500 words (the almost standard length for an SEO blog post for years on end) and 2,000 words (the more recent standard length for SEO blog posts).
On the other hand, when it comes to the ideal length of a blog post title or that of the meta description, there isn’t as much controversy. The ideal title of articles should be 6 words longs. And the ideal length of your article’s meta description is 160 characters.
Q2: How long should a tweet be?
A: 80-100 characters.
A SumAll study found that tweets under 100 characters have better engagement rates than longer tweets. So always bet on witty answers and creative copy. Just because now Twitter allows you to use 240 characters, it doesn’t mean you have to use them all.
Also, don’t shy away from using videos into your tweets. The maximum length of a video integrated into a tweet is of 140 seconds.
Q3: How long should an Instagram post be?
A: 150 characters. Or a lot more.
People analysing the best length for an Instagram post usually look at the performance of posts published by global brands and in that case, the ideal length is 150 characters, hashtags included. But that might not be ideal for you too because you don’t invest millions of dollars in ads for TV, outdoor, etc. so you do need to say a little more about your products than Coca Cola or BMW. The good news is that many people who use long posts (because they share stories) saw good results too, even though they weren’t included in any study.
Depending on your niche, you can test things out. You can use a short 150-character post and then a long (up to 2,200 characters long) one. See what works best for you.
Another thing I think it’s super important is to use videos on Instagram. On this channel, videos can be 1-minute long.
Q4: How long should a Facebook post be?
A: 40 characters.
Research shows that short posts (40 characters short) have better engagement rates than longer ones, so don’t write posts that people might see too long to read or understand. Instead, rely on videos for telling complex stories.
And since I’ve mentioned video, Facebook’s newest darling, remember that:
- videos that are 15 seconds or less are being watched in-full more often than longer ones;
- a short video will play in a loop for 90 seconds;
- but videos over 30 seconds long won’t loop;
- a live video can be 4 hours max.
Q5: How long should a LinkedIn update be?
A: 16-25 words.
Another thing the SumAll team found out was that on LinkedIn, brands selling their products and services to other companies saw best results with 16-25 words long posts, while those selling to consumers got best results with posts containing 21 to 25 words.
If you plan on writing articles on LinkedIn, know that the best titles are 40 and 50 characters long, while the body or the article should be 1,900 – 2,000 words long. Paul Shapiro investigated what differentiated best performing articles and those are the conclusions he drew.
Q6: How long should a YouTube video be?
A: 3 minutes.
The most popular YouTube videos are pretty short – up to 3 minutes. If you want to make sure people will actually watch the entire video you created, this is the safest bet you can make. After you grow your audience and you have many subscribers, you can start extending the length of your videos and see if they stick around to see them in-full.
Q7: How long should a podcast episode be?
A: 20 minutes.
Why? It’s quite simple. Researchers found out that 20 minutes is the maximum time people can pay attention without zoning out or getting distracted. The Daily has episodes that are 20-25 minutes long. Planet Money? The same.
Thank you for reading the article.
Maybe this length was the most appropriate for what I had in mind. Haha.
And since you’ve reached the end of it, why not stick around for another 30 seconds to let me know in a comment what is the one length you always go for when writing your social media posts?
What’s working for you? Please let me know down below.