We look at the average length of the most shared Facebook posts from five leading Facebook pages, and find that shorter is better.
How long are the most shared Facebook posts?
When we say Facebook post, we’re talking about the bit of accompanying text that social media managers write to describe a link on their page.
You have about 400 characters to use up before your post is truncated, but more and more pages are completely minimising the length of their posts.
Using NewsWhip Analytics, we looked at the average word count of the most engaged Facebook posts from the official pages of the five biggest Facebook publisher in our June 2016 ranking.
A few caveats: these numbers didn’t include emojis. Hashtags were counted as one word. For this analysis, we were only looking at posts with links back to the page’s website, rather than all posts including images and native and live videos.
Here were the average word counts of the top 100 most shared Facebook posts of the following Facebook pages in June:
Three of the surveyed pages – BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post and BBC News – have very short captions. Of the 500 posts we reviewed, 168 (33%) were ten words or less. 17 consisted of just one word.
The wordiest post that we found was from Fox News, at 57 words.
BuzzFeed had the shortest posts, at an average of just 11 words. Some of their posts used more emojis than words, and others were variations on traditional
Meanwhile, Fox News had the longest average posts of the five, at 24 words.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/FoxNews/posts/10154387325996336″ bottom=”30″]
Considerations when writing your Facebook posts
So, what can we learn from the numbers?
The main takeaway is this: when writing on Facebook, it’s important to be succinct.
The key consideration for the five publishers we reviewed was to make sure that the post text can be seen by the reader before being shortened with a ‘Read More’ message. You have around 400 characters before that happens, but getting to the point as quickly as you can is usually a good idea.
One popular tactic that we saw again and again in these rankings was to use a key quote from the story to make a point about the substance of the story.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/bbcnews/posts/10153709843317217″ bottom=”30″]
Of course, the text that you use in the headline of the post can be adapted so that’s it’s different to the original headline on your site.
Experiment with different posting formats to see what resonates with your audience. Are they looking for more information, humour, a memorable quote or something else? As ever, reviewing the data is key.
Want to learn more about crafting that perfect post? Read more in our 2018 guide to content creation.