ADVICE: What’s the ideal length for a social media post?

Social media has become an important part of most campaigns – from Facebook and sharing videos, to Twitter.

While social media would not be the only part of a campaign, it is becoming increasingly important to have a presence on social media for campaigning purposes.

This article looks into Facebook and Twitter, and the ideal post lengths for getting the most engagement and reach.

Facebook

Facebook is a huge online resource that offers a great opportunity to connect with a wide number of people, many of whom are not contactable using traditional media. There are 30 million Facebook users in the UK, half of whom use it every day. Think of it as your chance to take out free advertising space in a newspaper with 15 million daily readers!

The key to effectively using Facebook to campaign is to build a ‘page’ for your local politics so that you keep it separate from your ordinary profile (where your friends, family, and life-beyond-politics go).

Shorter posts usually receive more likes, comments and shares. People like it when a message makes its point quickly and concisely. It’s satisfying.

Organic posts

In 2016, BuzzSumo analyzed more than 800 million Facebook posts. Based on their findings, posts with less than 50 characters “were more engaging than long posts.”

According to a study by Jeff Bullas, posts with 80 characters or less receive 66% higher engagement:

ideal social media post length

There are a couple reasons for this:

  • Barrier to entry: Facebook cuts off longer posts, forcing users to click “see more” to expand the text and read the entire message. This extra step doesn’t seem like much, but it will drive down engagement. Every time you ask the audience to take action, a percentage of people will lose interest.
  • Barrier to comprehension: the longer a person reads, the harder local residents’ brains must work to process information. At its most basic, content that demands less work to understand will enjoy higher engagement rates.

Paid posts: five to 18 words

Every Facebook ad needs three types of content: a headline, main text, and a description.

After analyzing 37,259 Facebook ads, AdEspresso found that ads did best when the copy in each element was clear and concise. According to the data, the ideal length for a:

  • Headline, the first text people read, is five words.
  • Main text, the snippet above your image or video, is 14 words.
  • Description, the text that lives directly below your headline, is 18 words.

The Ideal Social Media Post Length

The Ideal Social Media Post Length

Whether the post is organic or paid, brevity seems to drive engagement.

Capitalise on this by keeping your ad copy concise: don’t use two words when one will do. And keep it clear: omit adverbs, jargon, and the passive voice from your copy.

Campaign videos on Facebook

Like the rest of e-campaigning, using videos is an add-on. It also needs some thought if you’re going to make good use out of it. It will take time and effort and, if you aren’t careful, it can be wasted time.

For more information on how to make your video, please take a look at this article from Cllr John Potter.

Videos: 30 to 60 seconds

With video, one of the primary measures of success is how long people watch, also known as your video retention rate.

In 2016, Kinetic Social tracked two billion social ad impressions and found that 44% of 30- to 60-second videos on Facebook were viewed to completion. Meanwhile, videos that ran under 30 seconds or over two minutes saw completion rates of 26% and 31%, respectively. A more recent poll, from 2018, showed that 33% of Facebook users preferred to watch shorter videos, from 30 to 50 seconds long.

Whenever possible, keep your videos tight.

Twitter

Twitter is a site that allows you to share short messages or pictures with other users instantly.

The site has obvious benefits for ALDC members as a tool to communicate with other Liberal Democrats, journalists, local community groups and constituents. If you are active on Twitter you may quite well find journalists now use it as a means to get hold of you rather than pick up the phone. You can also use it to follow the latest news from @ALDC.

In 2017, Twitter doubled its character limit to help make writing on the platform easier.

Organic  tweets: 71 – 100 characters

Whether you’re running an ad or not, data from Buddy Media shows that tweets containing less than 100 characters receive, on average, 17% higher engagement than longer tweets.

This is, in part, because shorter tweets are easier to read and comprehend. Short tweets also give retweeters enough room to add their own message.

Research by Track Social corroborates these findings:

The Ideal Social Media Post Length

Twitter hashtags: six characters

The best hashtags are those composed of a single word or a few letters according to Hashtags.org. Twitter experts recommend keeping the keyword under 6 characters. Again, this length is about readability, especially since hashtags don’t support spaces.

Final thoughts

Regardless of what platform you use, no one is suggesting that social media should be the only part of your campaign. We must continue to deliver traditional forms of literature, direct mail and knock on doors. This still has the greatest impact on any campaign, but social media can now add for little extra cost.

For more on social media, please take a look at our Advice FAQ Articles.

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