Size Matters: The Ideal Length of Tweets, Facebook Posts and Google+ Headlines

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Whether you’re speaking, writing or tweeting, size does matter. Small and medium businesses, SMBs, often facilitate several social media pages. This can be a great way to stay at the forefront of peoples’ minds, and have people learn about the company. The downside, however, is that it’s easy to be ignored in all the clutter.  Here are some guidelines for brands posting on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Twitter Talk

While 140 characters already feels limiting to the verbose logophiles among us, experts are telling us even that is too long for maximum engagement.

For tweets containing links, we can turn to some research by Dan Zarrella (because he’s won awards, written books, yada yada). After analyzing over 200,000 tweets containing links, Zarrella concludes that the click through rate, CTR, is highest among tweets of 120 – 130 characters. He also found that placing links about 25% of the way through the tweet was the prime location for a better CTR.

For the highest likelihood of a retweet, you need to drop nearly 30% of the Twitter character allotment. Zarrella’s findings say that tweets between 100 and 115 characters are 34% more likely to be retweeted. Once tweets hit 120 characters, the retweet probability goes down faster than Justin Bieber’s reputation.

Facebook Fodder

When Twitter first launched, people questioned how anything of substance could be contained in 140 characters and attacked millenials for having short attention spans. Naysayers didn’t recognize the way Twitter would change the way we absorb media, but what about Facebook? It’s been around longer than Twitter and has the potential to post much longer statuses, but should you?

Absolutely not. The longest status update you can put on Facebook is 63,206 characters. Seems like a random number? Bob Baldwin, an engineer at Facebook, told ZDnet:

“I set the exact limit to something nerdy. Facebook … Face Boo K … hex(FACE) – K … 64206 – 1000 = 63206.” In other words, Baldwin calculated the number using the hexadecimal numeral system: The hexadecimal value of “FACE” is 64,206. Then, Baldwin subtracted “K,” or “kilo-” (the prefix for 1,000), to arrive at 63,206.

I guess that is kind of nerdy. Anyway, though you can fit 451.5 full tweets in a post, you surely should not. Jeff Bullas reports that brand wall posts less than 80 characters receive 66% higher engagement than longer posts. Posts of 40 characters or under are even better, receiving 86% higher fan engagement. Not a lot of people have caught on apparently — only 5% of all retail brand wall posts are under 40 characters.

FB long posts

Grasping Google+

Demian Farnworth reported that the ideal length for a Google+ headline is under 60 characters so that it fits on one line. Also, you now only see three lines of text before Google suppresses the content to a “read more” call to action, so it is imperative your first sentence is intriguing.

Whether you’re posting content for your business or on behalf of your SMB clients, the moral of the story — keep it short.


Nykea Marie Behiel

Nykea is the Director of Content at Vendasta, where she heads up our content marketing team and inbound marketing initiatives.