The increasing usage of more than one social media platform, the convergence of social, mobile and local channels results in an always-on mentality and thus created a big issue for brands: the decrease of the attention span. In this noisy space, it isn’t easy to get your brand message to the right point.
The question arises which social media post length gets the best attention and creates the most interactions? Is there a notable correlation between the post length and their related interactions? What is the most used posting length? And how does this differ on Facebook, Twitter and Google+? We took a deep look at our database at quintly to answer those questions in detail.
The Research Setup
In order to get a meaningful statistical significance, we analyzed Facebook pages with more than 1,000 Fans, Google+ pages with more than 100 Circle followers and Twitter profiles with more than 1,000 Followers. We chose the time period from the 1st of August until the 30th of November 2013 for this analysis. Here are the facts about the data this analysis is based on:
- ~ 60,000 Facebook pages with more than 1,000 Fans each
- 13,519,651 analyzed posts on Facebook
- 10,771,881,378 related likes
- 711,366,272 related comments
- 1,453,585,488 related shares
- Only posts with a length of 1 to 997 chars were taken into account
- ~ 1,000 Google+ pages with more than 100 Circle Followers each
- 143,887 analyzed Google+ posts
- 10,716,837 related +1’s
- 1,155,024 related comments
- 1,155,104 related shares
- Only posts with a length of 1 to 980 chars have been considered
- ~ 6,000 Twitter profiles with more than 1,000 Followers each
- 7,714,610 analyzed tweets
- 489,460,111 related retweets
- 214,646,169 related favorites
- Only tweets with a length of 1 to 140 chars have been considered
The Most Used Social Media Post Length
Instead of Twitter’s 140 character limit you are still able to create posts on Facebook with slightly more than 60k characters. On Google+ there is officially no character limit, but several tests show that the limit is at around 100k characters. But without any research we all know that nearly nobody would like to read posts with more than 1k characters. For a first overview and to get an insight into what is the most used posting length we explored the length distribution for each of the data sets.
Facebook Post Distribution By Length
The highest peak is at a length of 2 characters. Typical posts with just 2 characters include smiley posts like ‘:)’. It is very likely that most of these posts were used in combination with a picture or video attachment. Around 83k posts respectively 0.61% of 13.5 million analyzed posts on Facebook have had this length.
After this exceptional peak at the beginning there is a kind of bell, which then tends to zero. The highest point of the bell is at 103 characters. More than 78k posts have had this length. E.g. this could be two short sentences. A second notable peak can be seen at 29 characters, based on around 68k posts on Facebook. This string length often refers to four or five words.
Google+ Post Distribution By Length
For Google+ the post distribution by character length is somehow different. The number of Google+ posts has its peak at 156 characters and then goes slightly downward, finally tending to zero.A length of 156 characters are usually two or three sentences.
The chart also shows a second peak at 91 characters. For this point a statistical outlier could be the reason.
Twitter Tweet Distribution By Length
With the predetermined limit of 140 characters in mind, for Twitter you can clearly see that most of the posts had exactly 140 characters. In our analysis around 565k tweets have had this specific length. Of course, you may have expected that Twitter users try to exhaust every single character.
But it should be noted, that Twitters inbuilt link shortener plays an important role here. Every link posted on Twitter will be altered to 22 characters automatically. Even if your link is less then 22 chars long it will be counted as 22 characters.
Normalized Social Media Post Distribution By Length
Finally we have put the posting length distribution of all networks into one chart. Please note that we have normalized this on a scale from 0 to 1 in order to make the numbers visually comparable. As we can see the most used social media post length slightly differs by network. For Facebook there are two notable peaks at a length of 2 and 103 characters. On Google+ most of the people have used a length of 156 characters. Nearly all Tweets actually tend to reach the character limit of 140.
The Correlation Between Social Media Post Length And The Resulting Interactions
Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Is there a correlation between the post length and their interactions? How does this look like for every single network?
Posts On Facebook: Length And The Average Interactions Per Post
Posts on Facebook with a length of 16 characters got the most interactions per post (only looking at post lengths with the number of posts over a certain threshold), where the number of interactions is defined as the sum of likes, comments and shares. Posts with this length are mostly 2 or 3 words, maybe a very short sentence like ‘I love you, too.’ (Test it here).
A second notable peak can be seen at 51 characters with 1792 interactions per post. There are also some peaks for posts with a higher number of characters. Please note that for these the number of posts with the given character length is really small, thus individual posts with high engagement can lead to those peaks and should be interpreted carefully. E.g. the peak at 850 characters is only based on 356 different posts. The aforementioned peak at 16 chars is based on about 45k posts.
Google+ Post Length And The Average Interaction Level
The combination of the line charts for the Google+ post distribution and the average total interactions per post looks quite different than on Facebook. The highest peak can be seen at 5 characters with 1056 interactions per posts. A second remarkable peak can be spotted at a post length of 442 characters. However, it can be stated that there is not a real peak for Google+ with a meaningful statistical significance. The interaction behavior is consistently very low.
Tweet Length And The Average Interaction Level
In oder to to show a meaningful chart we decided to start with a post length of 20 characters in the case of Twitter. There were peaks at a length of 1 to 3 chars, but this was based on such a low number of tweets, that we decided to leave those out in order to show only numbers with statistical significance. At a length of 22 chars the average interactions per post, where the number of interactions is defined by the sum of retweets and favorites, marks the highest peak. 22 chars can be a short sentence, but without a link. But this length can also be just a link without any written word as we know that Twitter’s inbuilt link shortener always counts links as 22 chars.
At a tweet length of 140 chars an uprise of the average interactions per post can be seen. As this number is based on more than half a million tweets, compared to only a few thousands for the peaks before, one could argue that this is the optimal posting length in order to get the most engagement.
Social Media Post Length And The Average Interaction Level
Last but not least, we have put together the average interactions per post numbers for Facebook, Google+ and Twitter into one single view. For Facebook one could say that shorter posts get more engagement. Based on the numbers, it can’t be easily determined which post length may be the best in case of interactions. Like mentioned above, for Google+ there is not special peak, while for Twitter a notable peak in case of interactions can be noted at 22 characters. In fact, one thing becomes evident, Facebook posts currently creating the highest interaction level.
It is important to note that this research, although based on a massive amount of posts, should be interpreted carefully by looking at the given number of posts every chart is based on. If you like, you can download the raw data for every given chart.Photo Credit: s0crates82 via Compfight cc