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20/03/2019

How long should your content be for effective marketing?

So, you know what topic you want to write about and you know the style in which you’ll write it – now you need to decide how long you want your piece to be. Do you go for a bite-sized, less than 1,000 words post, or do you go more in-depth and produce a piece upwards of 1,500 or even 2,000 words? If you want to produce optimal results, then the answer really depends on what field you operate in.

 

In recent years, there seems to be an unspoken agreement that humans have goldfish attention spans, spending very little time bothering to read content, simply scrolling through heaps of information without really taking anything in; as a result, many articles and blogs are written to be shorter than 1,000 or so words. This thought process possibly comes from the way we use our phones and tablets to scroll through copious amounts of information on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, with little to no effort. However, recent research by LinkedIn, suggests this perceived wisdom may not hold true, or at least may not be true for all sectors and audiences.

The study by LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s study reviewed data from the 400,000 most-shared posts of the last 12 months on all major social networks. They explored points such as factors that make a successful headline, where to find hot topics and what the optimum length for content is. The results offer rare quantitative insights into how to create successful content.

The yardsticks

The LinkedIn report compares content from the technology sector with content from the marketing sector, measuring the number of shares and the number of backlinks each post earnt:

  • Average number of shares is used as a metric because, although it isn’t a direct indication of core business interactions, it’s a good signal of the engagement a post receives. More shares mean more people are likely to interact with your post, and the more people that interact with your content, the more awareness of your brand spreads.
  • Backlinks are the holy grail of search-engine optimization (ranking high on search-engines); producing lots of high-quality backlinks is a sure-fire way to boost your ranking for organic searches, so increasing your brand awareness. Getting high-quality backlinks can be a difficult task because most sites will only link to you if you can demonstrate that you’re a reputable source and show expertise in the subject your content covers.

The results

 

Technology posts

Marketing posts

Post Length

Average shares

Average backlinks

Average shares

Average backlinks

Less than 1,000 words

348

10

234

5

From 1,000 to 2,000 words

485

13

850

20

More than 2,000 words

485

26

1519

37

Technology-related content did benefit from more lengthy posts, but only slightly. As far as bang for your buck goes, it’s difficult to say if it’s worth the investment of time spent writing more words because of the imprecision of the measurement – a category as broad as 1,000 to 2,000 words doesn’t give us a huge amount to go on. When it comes to writing technology-related content, just over 1,000 words seems like a sensible, efficient length to settle on to get the greatest number of shares for the time you spend writing your content.  

At the other end of the spectrum is marketing-related content, which hugely benefitted from more lengthy posts. Approximately doubling the amount of words from less than 1,000 to between 1,000 and 2,000 has the potential to garner you well over triple the number of shares and four times as many backlinks. The data fully supports that it’s well worth the investment in writing more words for marketing-related content to more efficiently grow your brand awareness.

The conclusions for your marketing strategy

So, what does this mean for your business?  Firstly, it depends upon what sector you are in as to how long your content should be; for technology and marketing, the LinkedIn findings give some clear indications as to potential returns from time invested in creating expert content.  For marketing, the LinkedIn research suggests that the key is to produce deeper, more definitive content that explores more details and more of the nooks and crannies of your topic. If people are going to invest their time into reading a blog or article, it appears that they would rather receive deeper insights than something that just scratches the surface.

Unfortunately, LinkedIn have so far only published their findings on content length in relation to technology and marketing (they are planning on publishing further insights, so you may find more relevant results for your sector in the future).  But in the meantime, what if you’re in pharmaceuticals, logistics or wellbeing?  The answer is that this study provides no more insights, so we would suggest two potential strategies:

  • Carry out your own research: Review some online articles to see which are getting the most shares (you will find it hard to uncover all the relevant backlinks without the right software).
  • Trial and error: Try publishing both shorter and longer content on a range of topics and see which gets most traction.

Unfortunately, there is no prescriptive answer as to how long your content should ideally be to engage your target audience and boost your brand awareness.  However, using informed research such as that produced by LinkedIn recently will give you insights as to what policy you should potentially be adopting, depending upon your sector and target market.  Supplementing that with your own analysis – of your competitors and your own analytics – will help you shape content that delivers on your business objectives.

To find out more about how Sharp Minds Communications can help with your marketing, email communications@sharpminds.agency 

 Based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, Sharp Minds offers brand development, digital marketing, offline marketing and public relations to businesses across Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Greater London. You can see what our customers say about us here.

 

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