If you’ve been a copywriter for any length of time, you know the ongoing debate of what the ideal length of a sales letter should be. As long-time A-list copywriter Mark Ford notes, everyone purports to despise long copy, yet it has always consistently out-pulled and outsold short copy.
But what about social media posts? Is shorter copy is the ticket to higher sales?
Some say that copywriting has evolved—and social media is to thank (or blame) for it. But saying it has evolved is too broad a brush to paint this picture.
It’s more accurate to say that copywriting has expanded. Different media platforms may take center stage now, yet the same principles upon which advertising and marketing were built in the mid-20th century still apply.
So, in today’s social media-dominated world, how much is too much? Is it possible to optimize the length of a post to engage and convert readers? What’s the ideal length of a post to drive viral engagement that reaches as many people as possible?
As always, it’s up to you to find out what your unique audience wants and cares about. To know their pains and concerns so you can offer the best solution, service, or product for them.
Generally speaking, though, it depends on your forum. But to know for sure, you’re going to have to test and find out what works for you. Neither guessing nor being creative for the sake of it is going to cut it.
Here’s a rough guideline to consider.
What’s the best way to optimize the advantage that marketing on Facebook provides?
According to research, asking questions, posting images, and uploading videos make Facebook posts more engaging. Posts with videos are more likely to be shared, and posts with short copy (fewer than 80 characters) have a 66% higher engagement rate.
But why? Here several reasons:
Along with content length, video length is also crucial. Videos between 30 and 60 seconds are found to have a higher view rate than those under 30 seconds or over 2 minutes.
When marketing your services, products, brand, or yourself on LinkedIn, there’s a general guideline to follow, per the platform’s own best practices guide.
Any updates you make are truncated at 140 characters with the dreaded “See more” ellipsis. Users generally scroll quickly through their feed, so users that have to click to see more of your update or ad will keep on scrolling. LinkedIn suggests staying in the 25-30 characters range for best engagement.
Engagement with articles, on the other hand, seems to follow the traditional copywriting trend that longer is better. Better engagement happens with longer articles—1900-2000 words. If you’ve got a compelling topic that’s well-written and delivers value, users are going to read it regardless of length. Title length is essential, too, as between 40 and 49 characters get the best click rate.
As for videos, despite a 10-minute maximum, 30 seconds or under has been found to get a 200% higher lift than longer videos.
In 2017, the platform doubled its character limit. Yet, research indicates that using all of it does not translate into higher engagement. In fact, as before the character limit increase, tweets with fewer than 100 characters still get higher engagement.
Here’s why: shorter tweets are easier to read and the content easier to remember. Furthermore, when users want to retweet, shorter copy will allow them to add their own reply (remember, everyone’s got an opinion and they want to share it, so give them the leeway to do so).
Research has found that the video search engine platform suggests, that generally speaking, video lengths under 3 minutes bring the most consistent success. It should also be accompanied by a title and description copy with relevant keywords.
The title should be no more than 70 characters, SEO-relevant, and compelling enough for clicks and views to make it go viral. Description length is important, too—157 characters or fewer are ideal in alerting search engines of the video content and encouraging the volume of clicks you want.
Although the platform is made for videos, images, and photos, copy is still vital to increasing engagement. For organic posts, the 138-150 character range is the sweet spot (though the maximum limit for captions tops out at 2200 characters) for delivering the right context, engaging personality, optimal branding, and mesmerizing CTAs. For sponsored posts, however, fewer characters are more successful—125 or fewer.
Finally, let’s touch on hashtags, as they are a mysterious entity that not everyone fully appreciates. Many social media copywriters and specialists, particularly on IG, want to use the entire limit of the allowable 30 hashtags per post, but this “hashtag stuffing” can come across as spam (or just plain annoying).
The dedicated website Hashtags.org suggests that hashtags are best composed of a single word and/or fewer than 6 characters. Furthermore, sticking to 5-9 of the most relevant is the best way to maximize the potential of them.
In the end, each audience is unique and yours may respond to different minimums and maximums, so always test to see how your audience is reacting, being converted, and even evolving its tastes, needs, and wants. Extensive A/B testing is better than simply using these numbers and other research and then guessing what your audience wants.