A Guide to Best Practices for Social Media Post Length

Posted by Doug Wilber on July 10, 2018

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Just because you’ve got the space doesn’t mean you should use it. Our guide breaks down how to optimize post lengths for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and maximize engagement and ROI.

Study after study has found a pronounced correlation between the length of social media posts and user engagement. The number of characters in your tweet impacts whether or not someone will read it, like it, or retweet it. And the length of your facebook video influences whether or not someone will watch it all the way through.

Putting this knowledge into practice is crucial if marketers in the financial industry are to squeeze as much value as they can from their social media marketing programs.

Ideal Social Media Post Length

No two social media platforms are the same. Their capabilities, user demographics, and cultural vernaculars vary from one to the next. And so there’s no one “right” length for social media in general — but when we look at the data from platform to platform, we find that there are indeed “right” or “optimal” character counts and video lengths associated with each platform.

Character Limits on Facebook

Social media feeds are increasingly crowded these days, and users’ attention spans are only so long. Their natural response to “feed fatigue” is to shy away from longer, more cognitively exhausting content, and rededicate their brainpower to a greater number of shorter posts.

By way of proof, a 2017 BuzzSumo study found that posts under 50 characters saw significantly higher levels of user engagement. You want your content to be one of those shorter posts with which they choose to engage.

So, keep posts below 80 characters, and try for 50. The optimal character count for Facebook posts aligns directly with Facebook’s automatic insertion of a “read more” link for posts longer than 80 characters. Clicking to expand a status update adds friction to the user experience that’s likely to inhibit engagement with your content. One way around this is to do short status updates and drop more info or links in the comments.

Facebook Post Video Length

Facebook’s video time limit is a massive 120 minutes (or 4 gigabytes) — don’t be tempted to use it. When it comes to video content on Facebook, the goldilocks length is between 30 and 50 seconds. This study found respondents were most likely to watch videos that fell within this range. Any longer than a minute, and studies show that video retention rates drop precipitously.

Character Limits on Twitter

Just because Twitter doubled the character limit of posts from 140 to 280 doesn’t mean you need the extra space. 71 – 100 characters is the ideal length (according to a Track Social study).

Do use hashtags: Tweets with hashtags are more likely to be retweeted than tweets with none. But make sure your hashtags are relevant to your message. Just because something seems like a good keyword or phrase doesn’t mean people are searching for it, or that there’s an active hashtag conversation going on around it. Inappropriately hashtagged words can look foolish and give audiences the impression that you’re just out to spam Twitterland.

Twitter Post Video Length

Twitter videos must be shorter than 2 minutes and 20 seconds. Keep in mind that videos do not affect the character limit. Videos shorter than 6.5 seconds will be automatically set to “loop” meaning that they’ll effectively become a GIF. If the GIF format isn’t something that suits your brand, don’t post videos shorter than 6.5 seconds.

Character Limits on LinkedIn

Like Facebook, LinkedIn posts are cut short with a “See More” button, only LinkedIn gives you a few extra characters: 140 to be exact. So keep LinkedIn posts below 140 characters whenever possible to avoid turning cognitively-strapped users away from your post altogether.

LinkedIn is an excellent platform for long-form content. Paul Shapiro has some interesting research on user engagement against title and article length. He suggests that making titles between 40 and 49 characters long, and articles between 1,900 to 2,000 words produces the best results.

LinkedIn Post Video Length

LinkedIn allows video posts of up to ten minutes, but their best practices guide suggests keeping them under 30 seconds.

Implementing Best Practices While Optimizing for Social Media Post Length

In addition to the length of their posts, social media marketers in the financial industry have compliance to consider when they’re sending out a tweet or uploading a LinkedIn post. Financial organizations face a considerable number of marketing and communication restrictions from regulatory agencies like the Fed, FINRA, and the SEC. And just a few instances of non-compliance can eradicate the wealth of brand equity that social media marketing programs can build.

And it’s not as simple as following a shortlist of rules. That’s why banks and financial firms use tools like Gremlin Social’s ABA-approved, social media marketing management platform which is designed just for the financial industry, with compliance at its core.

With tools like post archiving, keyword filtration, and monitoring, Gremlin Social empowers financial marketers to ensure their own compliance with minimal time and effort. And the message form in Gremlin Social’s turnkey dashboard serves integrated character counters for all posts across Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, so financial marketers can make sure they’re following social media best practices when it comes to post length.

With Gremlin Social’s social media compliance software for banks, financial marketers can focus their efforts on actual marketing; implementing best practices like character count-optimized social media posts designed for maximum ROI.

Topics: marketing best practices

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