The Ideal Length for Blog Posts, Podcasts and Social Updates

When I teach blogging workshops, someone in the audience always asks, “How long should my blog post be?”

My response:

“As long as it needs to be to get your message across.”

For Seth Godin, that’s usually 100-250 words. Seth’s blog posts redefine the term, “write tight.” He has created his own publishing empire because of his ability to convey meaningful messages in few words.

In this era of tweet-sized attention spans, the KISS principle (Keep It Short and Simple) applies to blog posts, podcasts, videos, TED Talks, and Slideshare presentations.

A fantastic infographic (scroll down to view) created by Buffer and SumAll overviews ideal word counts and character counts for online media.

Blog Post Headlines

6 words. People read the first three words and last three words of a headline. Make every word count.

Blog Posts

1,600 words. That’s longer than I expected. A rule of thumb: It should take less than 3 minutes to read your blog post.

Opening Paragraphs

40-55 characters. Not words, but characters. For comparison purposes, the opening paragraph of this blog post is 88 characters.

Podcasts

22 minutes. After that, attention and retention rates crash.

Click this image to download your free checklist that includes EVERYTHING you need to do prior to publishing a blog post! Or simply text PREPUB to 44222!

Click this image to download your free checklist that includes EVERYTHING you need to do prior to publishing a blog post! Or simply text PREPUB to 44222!

YouTube Videos

2 minutes, 54 seconds. That’s the average length of the top 50 YouTube videos.

Slideshare

61 slides. Remember that presentations are “glance media.” Viewers must be able to process your message within three seconds.

PowerPoint Presentations

slide:ologyFollow the 10/20/30 rule: Each presentation should have 10 slides, last no more than 20 minutes, and contain no font smaller than 30 points. (This info isn’t on the infographic; I found it in slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations, by Nancy Duarte)

Facebook Updates

40 characters. They get 86% more engagement than posts with a higher character count.

Tweets

70-100 characters. Interesting that tweets, which have long been considered the industry standard for short-form publishing, have an ideal length that’s almost twice as long as Facebook updates. What does that say about the Facebook audience?

Google+

60 characters. The nice thing about Google+ is that you can create a separate headline or teaser for each post and put it in boldface. Check out Blogging Bistro’s Google+ page for ideas on how to do this.

Infographic

Here is the full infographic:

Click to download a free PDF of this infographic.

Let’s Chat

Which of these statistics surprised you? Does this info nudge you to change any of your social media habits?

  • Kathi Woodall

    I must have a short attention span! I noticed I start to lose interest on blog articles when they are too long. I started checking at what point I started to lose interest – it was consistently at about 600 words. I’ve tried to keep my articles in the 500-800 range for that reason.

  • Kathi Woodall

    I must have a short attention span! I noticed I start to lose interest on blog articles when they are too long. I started checking at what point I started to lose interest – it was consistently at about 600 words. I’ve tried to keep my articles in the 500-800 range for that reason.

  • Kathi,

    This post is 432 words. I assume you didn’t fall asleep since you took the time to comment! (Appreciate that, by the way).

    You bring up a point bloggers should consider. When you think about the ideal target reader of your blog, YOU more than likely fit the profile of your ideal target reader. So, if you lose interest after 600 words, chances are, your ideal reader will do the same. Keeping your articles in the 500-800-word range sounds like a great idea — for you and for your readers.

  • Kathi,

    This post is 432 words. I assume you didn’t fall asleep since you took the time to comment! (Appreciate that, by the way).

    You bring up a point bloggers should consider. When you think about the ideal target reader of your blog, YOU more than likely fit the profile of your ideal target reader. So, if you lose interest after 600 words, chances are, your ideal reader will do the same. Keeping your articles in the 500-800-word range sounds like a great idea — for you and for your readers.

  • Johnnie Alexander

    I’m breaking the no hyphen rule in my domain name. It’s also long. But what do you do when you have a long name AND some mystery person is sitting on “name.com” without the hyphen? Last night I bought the domain name johnnie.ink. What do you think of an author going in that type of direction? Thanks for the interesting infographic, Laura.

  • Johnnie Alexander

    I’m breaking the no hyphen rule in my domain name. It’s also long. But what do you do when you have a long name AND some mystery person is sitting on “name.com” without the hyphen? Last night I bought the domain name johnnie.ink. What do you think of an author going in that type of direction? Thanks for the interesting infographic, Laura.

  • Johnnie – It is troublesome when someone snaps up “your” domain name and they don’t do anything with it except try to sell it for a zillion dollars. I didn’t know about the .ink extension, but that is kind of fun and memorable for an author. Let me know how it works for you.

  • Johnnie – It is troublesome when someone snaps up “your” domain name and they don’t do anything with it except try to sell it for a zillion dollars. I didn’t know about the .ink extension, but that is kind of fun and memorable for an author. Let me know how it works for you.

  • Johnnie Alexander

    I haven’t done anything with it yet but plan to point it to my website along with my other hyphenated url. I also plan to use it for an email address. Just have to figure out how–still techie-behind-the-times LOL

  • Johnnie Alexander

    I haven’t done anything with it yet but plan to point it to my website along with my other hyphenated url. I also plan to use it for an email address. Just have to figure out how–still techie-behind-the-times LOL

  • Love the info, Laura. I almost didn’t read my email of this message, since the title was ten words long. Ha! JK- I appreciated learning some new facts. Surprising that Facebook readers appreciate even less words than Twitter!

  • Love the info, Laura. I almost didn’t read my email of this message, since the title was ten words long. Ha! JK- I appreciated learning some new facts. Surprising that Facebook readers appreciate even less words than Twitter!

  • Jennifer,

    I break the title length “rule” all the time! Thought about shortening it, but opted for packing it with key words.

  • Jennifer,

    I break the title length “rule” all the time! Thought about shortening it, but opted for packing it with key words.

  • Yeah, I break the rule too… It’s nice to give people a good clue to what the article’s about!

  • Yeah, I break the rule too… It’s nice to give people a good clue to what the article’s about!