April 24, 2014

How Long Should My Online Content Be?

Over the past half-decade the Internet has all but converted the average person into an amateur writer.  Whereas prior to the popular adoption of such Internet based activities as blogging and tweeting, the average person probably did most of his or her online communication in the form of writing emails, now Internet based communication is rivaling all other communication forms in terms of scope and importance.  This crossover has given the performance marketer unparalleled opportunities as it relates to reaching and communicating with potential clients. But, recent research indicates that consumers of online content like to have their Tweets, headlines, and blogs served to them in very specific portions.

Longer Blogs are Better

When it comes to blog posting several studies have indicated that longer blog posts are actually preferred to shorter blog posts. In particular, readers tend to prefer blog posts which are in the range of 1600 words for blogs which do not feature many graphics, and 1000 words for blogs which are image laden.  The key, according to researchers, isn’t so much the number of words as it is the number of minutes the average reader takes to reach a blog post.  It turns out that 7 minutes reading time is the sweet spot for blogs.  So while many performance marketers make their bread and butter off shorter blog posts, it is worth investigating how longer blog posts may affect the end result.

Ideal Length of a Tweet – Under 100 Characters

One of the most important things to remember for those looking to market products and services over the Internet is that people generally do not like to read long blocks of information.  This may be one of the reasons that Tweets which are shorter than 100 characters get 17% more engagement than longer Tweets.  This is telling, considering the maximum character count on Twitter is 140.  The takeaway is that if you want people to care about what you’re saying and respond to or share your messages, keep it short and sweet.

Facebook Posts Should be Short

Similar to Tweets, Facebook posts should also be relatively brief.  In fact, if you would like to achieve 86% higher engagement, limit your Facebook posts to 40 characters or less.  Not only will this increase your engagement, if you’re not already following the practice, but you will also have less competition as only 5% of Facebook posts are currently under the 40 character mark.

Write Brief Headlines

What about the all-important headlines?  Researchers have found that the ideal length of a headline is just six words.  This conclusion was reached in part by research which indicated that people generally scan headlines and only pay attention to the first and last three words of a headline.

Be Open to Experimenting

Much of performance marketing comes down to testing and using the results of such tests to inform future marketing efforts.  But often times it is just as important to learn from the tests of others as it is to conduct your own.  So while you probably have a preferred way of producing Tweets, writing blogs, and making headlines, it may be worthwhile to try some of these suggestions and see if the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns is incrementally increased as a result.