Long-form content best for social sharing

February 25, 2019 by Aimee0

Long-form editorial content generates more shares on social media platforms compared to shorter posts, as do headlines with more words and characters.

Those are two of the major takeaways from a new, comprehensive content-marketing study released by BuzzSumo and Backlinko last week. The two companies analysed more than 900 million blog posts published on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites during a 12-month period from October 2017, making it one of the largest ever to date.

There has been an emerging trend of snippets and bite-sized content in recent months, but brands that focus solely on short-form creative content may be missing out if they don’t supplement it with blogs and articles that are extensive, relevant and insightful. The study found the ideal content length is between 1,000 and 2,000 words.

The ideal length is based purely on social shares, so brands should ideally mix up their content lengths to align with their own targets and objectives. However, long-form is king for social media, as articles with 2,000 to 3,000 words and 3,000 to 10,000 words still generated more social shares than those under 1,000 words.

However, anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 words appears to be the sweet spot, as these articles see an average of 56.1% more shares on social media compared to shorter articles with less than 1,000 words. Also, longer headlines are better for sharing, which is perhaps a surprise considering shorter, snappier titles are easier to digest.

The study found that headlines with 14 to 17 words are the best overall, and these are defined as “very long.” Short headlines with one to five words performed the worst, as they are unlikely to be relevant or eye-catching. The same pattern is also true for characters, with “more” being the ideal. Headlines with 80 to 100 characters get the most social shares.

While long content is king for sharing, there is not one specific day of the week where articles or blogs can benefit from higher levels of engagement. The study found there was a just 1.45% difference in the number of social shares on each of the seven days, although Sunday did come out on top.

The most shareable types of content on social media are those made up of lists or those leading with a “why” question as a headline. Meanwhile, infographics are incredibly useful for brands attempting to build backlinks, as they remain a highly citable resource for long after their publication date. They are also easy to embed within the body of a blog or article.

Finally, BuzzSumo found that B2C content is much more shareable than B2B content, although the study noted that B2C output often covers more appealing topics, such as health and fitness, which are more likely to resonate with a general audience on social media. In contrast, B2B materials are more esoteric and are less likely to be shared.


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