Where that idea originated from, however, I have no idea. But it’s what many marketers agree on right now. Keep it short and sweet and let images do the talking, right?
Everybody is saying it. Here are a few:
- In “Optimizing Facebook Engagement” from Social Media Today, a line reads, “Get to the point with short, punchy statements. Try to stay below 100 characters.”
- This other article says something similar: “We can see that as posts get longer, the engagement rate decreases steadily and in step with the rising number of characters used.”
- Jeff Bullas, who has some awesome stuff, says in this blog post, “Retail brand Wall Posts less than 80 characters in length receive 66% higher engagement than longer Posts. Very concise Posts – those between one and 40 characters – generate highest engagement. Only 5% of all retail brand Wall Posts are less than 40 characters in length, even though these receive 86% higher fan engagement.”
So, the message is clear: short is better, right?
But wait. Just for the fun of it, about a week ago I made a bunch of long Facebook posts for a page I manage. And this is what happened:
Engagement was up 227%. Reach was up 226%. Both were records. You see that big hockey stick graph in the image above? It happened because of posts like this with 111 words:
And this with 200 words:
And this with 120 words with a cool picture:
And this with 100 words and no pictures:
So, what does this mean?
Does it mean you can just throw the “short posts are better” strategy completely out the window? Sort of.
I think it’s this: don’t ignore long posts. There are people looking for more than just one-off social posts. With all the other shallow, hollow, social content out there, it can be refreshing to have social content with some real value. And it’s possible to create bigger content that has social sharing potential.
“With all the other shallow, hollow, social content out there, it can be refreshing to have social content with some real value.”
The posts I tested were designed to inform and give helpful facts and information that was relevant to my audience. And that’s the real issue here, not whether it’s long or short, but whether it solves a problem or is relevant to the audience. Long or short, it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s good.
It’s not the length that determines the success of the post, it’s the content. Short posts that have no relevancy achieve the same mediocre results. If it’s good at 200 words, it’s better than something mediocre at 10 words.
It’s the same reason why I like to read the epic “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy but can’t stand the much shorter, and in my opinion, awful book, “Catcher in the Rye.” Lord of the Rings is big, and awesome. Catcher in the Rye is short and boring.
To recap, it comes down to this: if it’s an awesome post, don’t worry about length.
3 Ways to Write Effective, Long Facebook Posts
First of all, don’t just write a long post for the sake of making something long. And remember, long posts may not be right for your audience.
But here’s what you do:
1. Think of it as a super concentrated, short blog post that hits only the highlights.
2. Include data, bullet points, numbers, stats and other information.
3. Include a picture worthy of sharing all by itself. This will also catch the attention of the really ADD-audience that doesn’t have time to read. Those people will just ignore the text because the picture is worth looking at and sharing (although one of my examples above had no pictures whatsoever and still had a lot of comments and reach).
When Long Facebook Posts Don’t Work
Long Facebook posts don’t work for the same reasons short Facebook posts don’t work: They don’t grab attention and they aren’t relevant. However, I think longer Facebook posts have a greater potential to lose a viewer’s attention quickly — so be careful you don’t ramble on needlessly.
If you want to try longer posts, still cut down on words when you can. Keep it condensed.
Try out some long posts for a couple weeks straight and see if you see any difference. Sometimes it takes something big and better to be worthy of sharing.
Have you tried longer Facebook posts? Is my experience the exception to the rule?