Social media landscape
September 15, 2015 - 6 minutes read
Size matters, when it comes to Facebook posts
Finding the sweet spot for the length and focus of your posts can be a challenge. Here’s how to get the most engagement out of your Facebook content with the minimum amount of words per minute.
With the growth of social media advertising options aimed at traffic generation, a lot of focus is placed on the number of clicks we get for a post. While those numbers might be useful for boosting up the social media monitoring stats, what can more clicks actually bring to your post if your readers are not bothered to read it? Here are the cold facts: even if we might think that our post are brilliant, users keep scrolling to the next one.
Keep it short
So how can a brand go about getting Facebook users to actually stop and read their posts? Recent statistics from the social-media-cosm have a solution for you: keep it short. In the content strategy world, the general rule of thumb is that each post or piece of content should be as long as it takes to convey the message. And when it comes to Facebook, shorter seems to be better.
Source: Buffer & SumAll
But how short is “short”, in fact? According to Buffer and SumAll, the sweet spot of a post’s length falls at 40 characters, that is when the engagement is the highest, rising up to 86 percent. Wordier Facebook posts behave poorly compared to shorter ones, receiving a lower like rate, comment rate and combined like-comment rate. All in all, it seems simple: the more descriptive your post is, the less inclined are users to read it, hence the less engagement and overall performance there is.
The triangle method works
With so little character space to navigate around, capturing your Facebook readers’ attention from the start becomes crucial. Here’s where the inverted pyramid method borrowed from journalism comes in handy. Try to imagine the structure of your post as an inverted triangle divided in three sections (see graphic).
The main section is the top wider part – this is where your post begins and where your focus point is. With the abundance of online content these days, there’s no time for beating around the bush. If there’s something relevant to share, then it should by all means come first: this the ‘what’ factor communicated by your post. Depending on the aim of your Facebook update, it could be also be a call-to-action or a pay-off. Then, the “when” and “how”s of your post come in, namely the second and third sections of the triangle. While the additional information might prove useful, in social media life, a post can happily exist and drive engagement without the third section. By comparing the skeleton of your post to an inverted triangle, what you are actually doing is starting off with presenting your audience the conclusion. The focus is therefore on what the reader can take out of everything, also known as the ‘what’s in it for me’ factor.
When in doubt, back it up with pixels
It’s true, the 40 character length can seem restrictive in many social media scenarios, making it almost impossible to include all the relevant information in a bite-size post. What’s the point of a higher engagement rate if you cannot capture the whole meaning of your message in a post? Touché. Luckily, this is when graphics step in. Facebook makes it possible to publish content through more than just one medium. A thought-through picture that follows your overall brand image, complements your text, and ultimately improves the overall performance of your post. Although recent statistics have put the role of Facebook photos as generators of high user engagement up for debate, there is no doubt that imagery that is both relevant to your content and brand can actually improve the quality of your message. And make readers stop at your posts when scrolling through their newsfeed. An image that is:
– relevant in terms of visual content
– consistent with your brand image and content marketing strategy
can turn the short textual length to your advantage.
All in all, the constant ball game between content length and user engagement has made it clear that Facebook is not making life easier for us content creators. Luckily, there are ways of getting around it. With content that is both strategic and specifically tailored to your platform, the ball is always in your court. It’s time to play.