Online Content: Finding the Right Length

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Posted by Erin Schroeder, Copywriter & Online Specialist

As we write content to be published online, the question of “how much is too much?” comes up again and again.

There’s no right answer for any one channel, but thanks to some in-depth research and comparisons from BufferSocial, we have a better idea for what seems to work best.

Here are some of the findings for the ideal copy length by content type:

  • Tweets – 100 characters
  • Facebook posts – Less than 40 characters
  • Email subject lines – 28-39 characters
  • Blog posts – 1,600 words
  • Headlines – 6 words
  • Online seminar – 18 minutes

Do you see the trend here? For most types of content, it seems that shorter copy wins out.

Consider tweets. Each time we post something on Twitter, we’re limited to 140 total characters. It’s often hard enough to stay within that count and convey what we’re trying to say, so take away 40 of those characters, and it’s an even bigger challenge.

Or how about headlines? Suppose you write a very compelling article that covers a bunch of great information and you’re given the task of summarizing the piece in just six words. Not such an easy thing to do, is it?

But think of how people typically use the web today. They’re looking for information quickly … often scanning content on their handheld devices while on the go and skimming their news feeds for the topics they find most interesting or relevant.

Of course, as we write, not every piece is going to fit these guidelines, and some audiences may be less ‘sensitive’ to length than others.

Take this blog post as an example. In the end, it will come out to just over 300 words. We managed to get the headline down to the recommended six words or less, but didn’t feel that a 1,600-word post made much sense.

That’s the key … consider the suggestions for ideal length in your writing and then decide what is right for your readers.

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