Does Length of Online Content Matter?

By Stevie Sleeter, Content & Social Media Manager

Published: May 22, 2014

On average, you have…

– 100 characters on Twitter
– 80 characters in your Facebook post
– 6 words for your headline
– 7 minutes and 1,600 characters for a blog post

…to effectively get your brand message across and engage people online.


In our fast-paced world, we seemingly gravitate towards bite-sized content, ‘snacking’ on information we can consume quickly between meetings, emails and coffee breaks. But, on the other hand, we have tech giants like Google and LinkedIn introducing platforms like Google In-Depth articles and LinkedIn publisher and encouraging a resurrection of a long form written word.

So, the question arises: Does length of online content really matter? The answer: yes.

Know Who You’re Talking To

When searching the web for a quick answer, a silly anecdote, or a check-up from your network, short and easy to digest pieces of information are ideal. There is, however, a time and place for long content versus quick, easy to digest social content. Consider anytime you are doing research – looking for more information on the state of your industry, digging into new concepts, or championing a new approach – all requires time, energy and some pretty extensive searching online.

As a brand trying to get your message or story out there in front of people, the key is in knowing who you are talking to and what’s appropriate on which channel. Twitter is a constant barrage of one-liners, while Branch (recently acquired by Facebook) is a social network that is hinged on lengthy and ongoing conversations. If you know who you are trying to reach and where they are active, you’ll get a good indication of how to approach content creation.

Google In-Depth articles, for example, is new type of listing added after Google discovered that roughly 10% of users needed to look up information on a broad topic every day. As the name implies, the in-depth articles search-results box consists of posts that provide exhaustive information on a subject, likely sparing one the need to look for additional material.

Ideal Length of Content By Channel

According to Fast Company, “solid research exists to show the value of writing, tweeting, and posting at certain lengths.”

Twitter: “Twitter’s best practices reference research by Buddy Media about tweet length: 100 characters is the engagement sweet spot for a tweet. Their analysis saw a spike in retweets among those in the 71-100 character range–so-called “medium” length tweets.”

Facebook: 40 is the magic number that Jeff Bullas found was most effective in his study of retail brands on Facebook. He measured engagement of posts, defined by “like” rate and comment rate, and the ultra-short 40-character posts received 86% higher engagement than others.”

Headlines: “We tend to absorb only the first three words and the last three words of a headline. If you want to maximize the chance that your entire headline gets read, keep your headline to six words.”

Blog Posts: “When measuring the content that performs best on their site, Medium focuses not on clicks but on attention. How long do readers stick with an article? In this sense, an ideal blog post would be one that people read. And Medium’s research on this front says that the ideal blog post is seven minutes long.”

Email Subject: “In September 2012, MailChimp published the following headline on its blog: Subject Line Length Means Absolutely Nothing. Their research found no significant advantage to short or long subject lines in emails. Clicks and opens were largely the same”.

Why do all of these numbers matter? Because people are becoming better searchers.”Based on data released by Hitwise, you are starting to use longer search queries when you search. 8-word search queries are up 34,000%. The general trend is that the percentage of people who are searching for 2 or 3-word phrases is decreasing and the percentage of people who are searching for 4, 5 or even 8-word phrases is increasing.”

If you people to find you online, think carefully about how short or long you make your content – whether it’s copy, video, images – and consider how people today behave when searching, what information they are looking for, what context they are in (what they are doing), and what information will provide most value to them.