Have you ever wanted to know the ideal length for a social media post or what to do if yours is too long or too short? Getting it right is especially important if your business relies on social media content getting out and being seen by your target audience.
Every major social media platform has different guidelines. Familiarity with the specifics of each is valuable knowledge for any social media user and content creators, in particular.
In order of user numbers, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok are the most popular profile-based social media platforms in the Western world right now. Statista found, as of October 2023:
- Facebook had approximately 3 billion users
- YouTube had 2.5 billion
- Instagram had 2 billion
- TikTok had 1.2 billion
Each time you post on any of these platforms, you are potentially reaching billions of social media users. These users will know when something feels different, so aligning with platform standards is important.
What To Consider When Choosing The Correct Length Of Your Social Media Posts
The two factors you’ll need to consider when determining the length of your social media posts are your audience’s attention span and the formatting parameters of each social media platform. Here are a couple things to keep in mind regarding those two factors:
- Attention span goes hand in hand with content volume. The amount of content aimed at a consumer limits how much they can absorb.
- Platform formatting is based on the design developed by the social media site over the course of many years. An example of this is seen in character limits for X, formerly known as Twitter.
What this means is that what works for one platform may not work for another. For instance, many advise writing up to the character limit where your text will be cut off by a continuation tab. This is also known as the point of truncation or shortening. Other platforms, like X, strictly limit the character count, which in X’s case is 280.
So why might you want to go beyond recommended character limits when writing social media posts? There are three primary reasons:
- It’s more about optimal ranges than optimal character numbers.
- The actual character limit never matches the optimal range.
- Engagement truly depends on the quality of your content.
If you choose to write more than the recommended amount, make sure that everything you write serves a purpose!
The Correct Length For A Social Media Post On Each Platform
Which social media platform you post on will determine the correct length for your marketing content.
Facebook is the most popular social media platform, hands down. It boasts a maximum character limit of 63,206 on posts, which allows users to post long-form content.
Among the top social platforms, Facebook demonstrates the largest disparity between the recommended character count for posts and its actual limit.
Most marketers agree that Facebook posts should be 40-80 characters.
How To Increase Or Shorten Facebook Posts
To lengthen a post:
- Add an image, link or video and comment on it in the caption.
- Add a factual or emotional detail.
To shorten a post:
- Edit out any oversharing.
- Ensure your first sentence is descriptive and has impact.
- Trim unnecessary filler words (e.g. “really,” “maybe,” “kind of,” etc.).
Instagram photo or video captions can be up to 2,200 characters long with a maximum of 30 hashtags. Truncation occurs at 125 characters, which is where the social platform sets its cutoff for ads and promotional entries. Instagram is unusual in that outside research recommends a longer post length than the platform. In fact, the ideal length is under 125 characters.
How To Increase Or Shorten Instagram Posts
To lengthen an Instagram post:
- Dig deeper into the content you’re sharing and give it context.
- Don’t rely on the picture or video to be worth a “thousand words.” Decode it for your audience.
- Be thorough with your description.
- Add the maximum number of hashtags – up to 30.
To shorten an Instagram post:
- Allow your 30 hashtags to speak for you.
- Cut long, complex words and use simple language instead.
X’s famous 140 character-long limit doubled in 2017, to the applause of many. The reason given for the increase to 280 characters was not clearly outlined by the social platform, although the original limit was modeled after the average character count of a text message.
How To Increase Or Shorten X Posts
To lengthen a post:
- Add hashtags – 3 to 4 are common on the X platform.
- Add a hyperlink that supports your content.
- Add details or adjectives that are compelling and drive an emotional response.
To shorten a post:
- Simplify your language by cutting filler words; however, be careful not to change the post’s meaning in the process.
- Use hashtags (2-3) in your text to signal important concepts.
- Post an image alongside your update to make your point in fewer words.
LinkedIn technically limits posts to 700 characters. However, like Facebook, it is truncated with a “See More” button at 140 characters. The social platform and outside researchers agree that 140 characters is the ideal upper limit for a LinkedIn post to ensure maximum visibility.
How To Increase Or Shorten LinkedIn Posts
To lengthen a post:
- People seeing your post may not be familiar with the content’s subject matter, so be descriptive.
- Expand your vocabulary. On LinkedIn, it’s perfectly acceptable to use industry jargon.
To shorten a post:
- Reduce filler words and cut out any language that isn’t professional or businesslike.
- Use hashtags sparingly (no more than 2-3) to clarify your subject matter while using vocabulary economically. If you place these at the end of your update, you’ll still get the value of the added visibility without them taking up valuable real estate in the update itself.
- Use a hyperlink that corroborates or expands upon your content.
6 Tips For Writing Short, Compelling Social Media Posts
In most social media environments, you have a matter of seconds to capture a user’s eye. It’s important your content is high-quality, free of errors and worthy of attention. Here is a condensed list of six best practices to ensure your content is ready for your audience:
- Check Spelling And Grammar. Proofreading is not a one-step process. Monitor your copy for errors while drafting. Taking a break and returning with fresh eyes can make a world of difference in terms of catching typos.
- Monitor Responses. Regularly check comments, messages and platform analytics to see what works and what doesn’t for your audience. If you put your followers first, you will see a positive response to your posts. Gauging responses is one way to prioritize the reader.
- Provide Value. Another way to get into an audience-first mindset is to think in terms of what value your content holds for your reader. Keeping your content relevant to your core audience is essential.
- Choose Links And Media Carefully. They are part of your social media update’s message. Additionally, they may receive more attention than your textual commentary. Videos and other media posts currently receive the most attention on social media. If you’ve caught someone’s attention with a post including a link, they may spend more time perusing the link’s content than yours. Make sure anything you share aligns with your brand and is something you are comfortable endorsing.
- Pay Attention To Advertising Specs. Single-image advertising specs for most social media platforms read like a list of best practices for creating an image-based post. Even if you aren’t paying for ads, you can learn a lot from the various platforms’ guidelines.
- Include A Call To Action. If you’ve done everything to ensure your social media post is compelling and cleanly executed, you will have your audience’s attention. Use it to inspire some kind of follow-up or action with your words. Be positive and provide motivation. This allows your audience to interact fully with your online output.
How To Ensure The Correct Social Media Post Length
Make sure all your social media posts are visible, easy to read and include some form of media or hyperlink. While shorter is generally better, the ideal ranges I listed above will provide helpful guidelines to follow. In the end, the quality of your social media post will determine whether people engage with it or not.
If you want custom, quality social media posts written for your business, do not hesitate to contact us at Three Girls Media. We also manage social media advertising campaigns specifically customized for your business and your audience.
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