I think every writer at one time or another has thought about how long is too long for a post, tweet or headline.
As I typed my headline into WordPress, it was kind enough to tell me that my headline is 59 of 65 characters. I never understood if WordPress thought 65 was the max or the ideal size for my headline.
Reading through Zite (soon to be Flipboard) today, I came across this article by Kevan Lee at Fast Company: The Proven Ideal Length of Every Tweet, Facebook Post, and Headline Online. Mr. Lee did the research to find out best practices and here is what he came up with.
100 Characters. This is according to Twitter’s best practices. Twitter found that there was spike in retweets for tweets between 71 and 100 characters. So if you want your tweets sent around by others, don’t take up all 140 available characters and don’t send short tweets.
Remember seeing a Facebook post that takes up the entire screen? Unlike Twitter, the ideal Facebook post size is only 40 characters! What? You have so much more room to type in Facebook.
Jeff Bullas found that posts of 40 characters received 86% higher engagement. Since Bullas’ sample of Facebook posts of 40 characters was a small sample, Facebook suggests 80 characters or less is good too. At 80 characters, Bullas found those posts has 66% higher engagement.
On Google, you have a headline and the body of your message. If people only look at headlines, how long should they be? How about 60 characters or less! So maybe WordPress’ suggestion of 65 or less is not so bad. Why 60 for Google? Demian Farnworth found that more than 60 characters will likely split your headline into two lines in Google+. Mr. Farnworth says that if you can’t get your headline under 60 characters, then make sure your first sentence draws the reader in quickly.
So what about headlines in general. This blog post has a headline that WordPress suggested I limit to 65 characters or less. According to Mr. Lee, 6 words is the ideal length. Rats – his headline and my copy of it are both more than 6 words. This number comes from research done by KISSMetrics.
What about Blog Post Length?
According to WordPress my post is 367 words long right now. Mr. Lee says that my post is too short! The ideal post length – according to Medium – is 7 minutes. That is, people pay attention for about 7 minutes. Anything longer and they stop reading. It turns out that 7 minutes is about 1,600 words long, or about 4 times the size of this blog post.
I hope you enjoyed reading this since I kept it under 7 minutes. Have a look at all the links I included because they all have additional information that you may find interesting. If you made it this far into my post, tweet a link, post a message on Facebook or leave a comment to let me know what you think about ideal tweet, post and headline size.