The Best Length for Social Media Messages & Other Online Content

Can a Tweet be too long?

It seems like a dumb question, doesn’t it? After all, tweets are already limited to a minimum of 140 characters. Interestingly, Buffer Social’s informative article, The Ideal Length of Everything Online, Backed by Research shows that the perfect length of a Tweet is actually shorter than that. Check out what it says in Twitter’s Best Practices:

“Creativity loves constraints and simplicity is at our core.Tweets are limited to 140 characters so they can be consumed easily anywhere, even via mobile text messages. There’s no magical length for a Tweet, but a recent report by Buddy Media revealed that Tweets shorter than 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate.”

So, in terms of length, what’s the “engagement sweet spot“, for other social media messages?

For Facebook Posts, says Buffer Social, “40 is the magic number” according to research conducted by Jeff Bullas. By measuring engagement of posts (determined by “like” and comment rate), Bullas discovered that short “40-character posts received 86 percent higher engagement” than others, while posts with “80 characters or fewer received 66 percent higher engagement.”

“Many different studies over the years have confirmed that shorter posts are better on Facebook.”


Source: Buffer Social

For maximum readability and improved appearance of Google+ posts,  Buffer Social suggests that your text should be limited to one line, not to exeed 60 characters. If you find it impossible to keep your headline to one line, write an irresistable first sentence. Why?

“In the last update, Google changed the layout of posts so that you only see three lines of the original post before you see the “Read More” link. In other words, your first sentence has to be a gripping teaser to get people to click “Read More.”


Source: Buffer Social

Over all, post lengths on Google+ average 156 characters, according to Qunitly Research, with the largest spike in engagement resulting from posts of 5 characters in length and the 2nd highest spike coming from posts of 442 characters. So, as Buffer Social points out, “you can write a lot longer on Google+ and still find great results.”

For a quick reference on the ideal lengths for these and other forms of online content, check out Buffer Social’s helpful infographic:

Source: Buffer Social

(for a more updated, in depth—and just plain fun—infographic, click here)

When it comes down to it, says Buffer Social, “Every piece of content should be as long as it takes to convey the message, and no longer.”

If you find yourself frequently asking how long a Tweet should be, how many characters your title tag should have, or how many words make an ideal headline, use the information above to get your online content started off in the right direction in terms of length.

But remember, what works for others might not work for you and your target audience, so you should definitely do some testing and content revising to discover your optimum “engagement sweet spot”.



Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and two small business e-books. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime. A graduate of Brigham Young University, she worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current writing position at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with small business owners.

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