Iliyana's Blog

Storytelling Content: The Perfect Length of Everything

[fa icon="calendar"] 07-May-2014 11:14:00 / by Iliyana Stareva

I think this is becoming writing online contentlike some sort of series - two weeks ago I talked about the power of storytelling and how brands can to harness it; a week after that I shared a piece focusing more on the art of storytelling, i.e. creating content and what the perfect social posts look like. Today we are going to tackle another important content creation element that you are required to consider too - length.

Great storytelling is not just about picking the right words, it's also about making the right choice regarding the number of words you use. When writing, be it for personal or professional reasons, there are people who tend to get carried away (I myself do so sometimes). Being able to send a message in a short, quick and up-to-the-point way is an art that can be learned by practice and with the help of some scientifically backed-up data such as this from Kevan Lee at Buffer.

Lee has gathered some serious research findings and developed a guide to the perfect length of every online content. Of course, that's not a one-size-fits-all solution, but those are some great points to consider whenever you're writing your next tweet, email, post or headline.

You can head over and read Kevan's extensive article, it's a great piece. I've gathered for you here the most important facts and what you need to know to create highly optimised content that allows your storytelling to stand out.

Before I move on to the figures, I just want to point out another important matter that concerns your writing, namely SEO (for the web and mobile too). You need to make clever use of keywords - you can't just stack your content with such, use them succinctly as front-line ingredient of your writing. Taking the ideal length of different content pieces into consideration should help you ensure that you don't get carried away with keywords.

The perfect length of everything:

  • 100 characters is the engagement sweet spot for a tweet, driving most retweets.
  • 40 characters is the magic number for Facebook posts - those receive 86% more engagement than other posts.
  • Google+ headlines should be less than 60 characters; however Google+ posts average 156 characters, meaning that you can write a lot more text on Google+ and still get great results.
  • The ideal length of a story headline is 6 words - we not only scan the body of an article, but headlines too as we tend to absorb only the first three words and the last three words of a headline.
  • To sustain your readers' attention, your next blog post should be 7 minutes or 1,600 words long.
  • Because content width can give the appearance of simplicity or complexity and is key to maximising reader comprehension, keep your paragraph's width up to 40-55 characters, i.e. 8 to 11 words per line, to make them easier to focus on.
  • To ensure the highest click-through rate, an email subject line should be 28-39 characters long.
  • Scientists have found that people can pay attention to something within a range of 10 to 18 minutes before they check out, which is why your next presentation should ideally be 18 minutes long.
  • Title tags - the bits of text that define your site on a search results page - perform best with a length of 55 characters.
  • Good domain names should not only be easy to remember and spell, but they should be kept up to 8 characters long.

(Click on the infographic for a larger view)

The ideal length of any online content infographic

Infographic by Kevan Lee

Topics: Social Media, Storytelling

Iliyana Stareva

Written by Iliyana Stareva

Iliyana Stareva is the author of Inbound PR - the book that is transforming the PR industry. She's also a keynote speaker and a consultant in inbound and digital for fast-growing companies and agencies. Currently, Iliyana is Program Manager in the Chief of Staff office for CX EMEAR at Cisco where she is the operational leader for all things Customer Success. In her previous roles at HubSpot, she led major cross-functional change for the global Partner Program with her detail-oriented approach to project management and advised hundreds of agencies on how to transform their businesses with inbound and digital. During that time, she earned the globally recognised Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification by the PMI. In her free time, you can find Iliyana writing for her blog, dancing salsa or travelling the world.

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