Jell-O on the Wall: Social Media Perfection is Fleeting
Is social media perfection out there?
Every few months or so, a new study comes out which provides what are purportedly the perfect times to post on various platforms.
Or it might outline the perfect number of words or characters or images. All of this relentless pursuit of social media perfection is, of course, is for the Holy Grail of social media, the conversion.
I don’t argue with the idea. Certainly everyone wants to minimize time spent and maximize conversions which, presumably, lead to profit or fame or some other personal or corporate milestone or achievement.
What amuses me, though, is that sometimes the advice is a bit conflicting.
Social Media Today posts a lot of articles like this, and here’s an example.
So back in May of 2014, four great and interesting (certainly helpful) articles appeared on that site. Let’s look at how they stack up.
The Ideal Length of Everything Online, Backed by Research – this rather helpful article indicated, for example, that the ideal blog post is 1,600 words long. This figure puts it into more or less direct opposition to Yoast’s Social Media Plugin for WordPress, which, if all other conditions are ideal, starts to mark blog posts are having good SEO at 300 or more words in length. Now, the Social Media Today article is more about engagement, so I understand that this isn’t exactly apples to apples. But regardless of how ‘ideal’ in length a post is, it’s still got to be found. Fortunately, these aren’t mutually exclusive conditions.
In addition, that article lists perfect tweet length as 71 – 100 characters.
The Perfect Tweet – speaking of perfect tweets, this article, posted four days after the first one listed above. And it spelled out that tweets with images are ideal. Again, it’s not a true contradiction, but it is a bit of an inconsistency, particularly as this article didn’t talk about tweet length at all.
Yet isn’t ideal length a part of tweeterrific perfection? It seems like it should be.
How to Manager Your Social Media in 34 Minutes (or Less) a Day – this article did a good job in outlining the basics. And it added a bit of a reminder to try to engage the audience, provide good content, etc.
However, they didn’t include time blogging. And perhaps they shouldn’t have. Because if you prepare a 1,600-word blog post (or even a Yoast-approved 300 word wonder), you won’t write it in less than 34 minutes. At least, you won’t be doing so if you want to (a) include images, tags, and other extras and formatting touches and (b) credit your sources properly. Furthermore, you don’t want to even inadvertently commit plagiarism.
The idea of using HootSuite, Buffer, and/or Facebook’s own post scheduler is, of course, a smart one.
9 Fresh and Effective Ideas for Your Social Media and Content Marketing Campaigns – this article provided some quick tips on how to change things up. And this included an idea about engaging in a debate with competitors, and another about collaborating on content with customers.
I wish I knew how to do that in 34 minutes or less.
Let’s Update That Research
Ideal post lengths change.
According to a 2020 article from Sprout Social, the ideal length for a Facebook post is 40-80 characters. And the ideal length of a Facebook ad headline is 5 words.
Hmm, maybe I should change the titles of some of these blog posts?
For Twitter (per the same article), the ideal length is 71-100 characters. This makes sense as it adds space to comment when replying. But make no mistake about it – having to go under 100 characters forces you to be concise.
Caption length should be 138-150 characters. Not as concise as Twitter, but you’re still not writing a Russian novel.
Interestingly enough, the article also says that the number of hashtags can be 5-10. There’s nothing on Facebook or Twitter hashtags, but usually in those instances, less is more.
The ideal number of characters in a LinkedIn status update is 50-100. So in this case, Twitter comes off as looking more like The Lord of the Rings or any other long novels you may prefer.
However, the reason for this is that usually a LinkedIn update is a caption/status and then a link. And… that’s it.
Per the article, there doesn’t seem to be a bit of social media perfection when it comes to the length of YouTube titles or the like. Instead, these things are evidently defined by the software itself. If the limit on video titles is 70 characters, then your ideal YouTube video title is going to be 70 characters or fewer.
Social Media Perfection: Takeaways
Be that as it may, we are all pressed for time these days, and it’s only going to get worse. Undoubtedly, a new study will come out soon enough with new standards and ideals and concepts that are touted as social media perfection. Will they be? Maybe, but probably not forever.
In the meantime, don’t beat yourself up if your stuff is imperfect. Hey, it happens. And you may find that your character lengths are on the bleeding edge of the next ideas of social media perfection.